Wednesday, August 23, 2017

You read queries all day, right?

You spend all day reading queries, right?



No, not really.
Most days, I start with coffee and the New York Times crossword puzzle.
I feel smart as hell on Monday.
By Friday, I'm hiding behind the plant, weeping.




And I spend time reading reviews of client's upcoming books.
And then sending them out to bookstores or to bloggers who write about mysteries.





And sometimes I get very nice notes from people.
This one is from Kari Dell. Notice that lovely bookmark! I know you want one.
You can get your mitts on one at the Buns and Roses Tea for Literacy if you sit at Kari Dell's table.  Details here.



And sometimes I get nice notes from clients who are travelling.
I'm here, auditing their royalty statements of course.



And I read a lot of lit mags and journals, hunting up interesting new writers, and scoping out places for my clients short stories. 





And we all read Vanity Fair cause we need to keep up on the Zeitgeist.

And this doesn't count publishers' catalogs** which I look at almost every day, Publishers Marketplace, Publishers Weekly, my incoming email, or the comments on this blog.

No, I don't spend all day reading queries, but I do spend a big chunk of it READING!




**latest find in catalog that utterly charmed me: Snappsy The Alligator.




89 comments:

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

I love a good heist story!
FIL also does the NYTimes crossword every morning until Thursday or Friday.

Kitty said...

scoping out places for my clients short stories

And those markets are...?

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

OT, of wait is there a topic?

Janet, all these years I’ve been coming here, almost every morning, I don’t remember anyone mentioning the profundity of your last name in reference to what you do. Of course we call ourselves ‘Reiders” but your last name related to today’s post – so damn interesting.
Like Dr. Docktor, singer Synger and Professor Teacher, amazing.
Locally we have a Urologist named Dr. Herter. Anymore out there?
Just had to ask.

Julie Falatko said...

Well GOSH this is a lovely surprise! Thank you!

Colin Smith said...

The idea that all agents do is read queries is, if you think about it, silly. Imagine, if you will, you are one of Janet's clients...

YOU: Hey, Janet! Did you read my latest revisions?
JR: Uhh... sort of. I'm sure they're fine.
YOU: What have you been doing?
JR: My job--reading queries!
YOU: So is my manuscript going on submission?
JR: Yes... maybe... if I have time.
YOU: Time?
JR: Do you know how many queries I get every day? Do you?? HA! This one called me "Snookums." It's that danged Smith again. Form rejection or Carkoon? Form rejection. I'll save Carkoon for the whiney email asking why I rejected him AGAIN. *evil laugh*
YOU: Janet? How about my royalty statement?
JR: What? WHAT? Royalty what? Oh, that thing. I'll get to it eventually...
YOU: So... that 15% you claim off my work...?
JR: How else can I afford the time to read queries? Now leave me alone. Ten more just came in...

:)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

So much reading. So little time. I feel so slow when I see how much the shark gets done everyday.

Colin Smith said...

Hi, Julie! Wow... another published author who reads the blog!! We're honored. :D And that snippet from your PB looks fun!! Thanks for unlurking. It's always neat to see who reads this blog.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donnaeve said...

Funny - that alligator (except for the tie) looks a lot like one I used to draw a long time ago. Snappsy has some snappy come backs!

I spend too much time reading stuff I shouldn't be during any given day. Facebook. Twitter. Random internet searches (which were actually searches related to true, needed research, but somehow I end up in some spot which has nothing to do with...my research.)

I've been giving myself a talking to lately about that.

Theresa said...

What an informative, well illustrated day-in-the-life story. Thanks, Janet!

Amy Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colin Smith said...

Janet: I was just checking out Julie's website. The cover to SNAPPSY THE ALLIGATOR DID NOT ASK TO BE IN THIS BOOK! looks familiar. Did I see it there at the Reef when I visited in Jan? I'm sure I've seen it before. I could quite understand Snappsy being a favorite over there. :)

Julie Falatko said...

Hi Colin!
Doesn't...EVERYONE read this blog? They should!

Sherry Howard said...

Hi, Julie, from another picture book writer. Snappsy is a favorite!

And, fun to hear about a day in the life! Some days I couldn't tell you what I do!

Unknown said...

In addition to insightful writerly advice from Ms. QS, we get plugs about her clients. Wahoo! I see a couple of authors just right for my readership. :-)

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Snappsy...! I just learned about him the other day. What fun. Hi Julie! *waves

Julie Falatko said...

Hi Melanie!

Colin Smith said...

I hate to hijack the blog (chorus: no you don't!), but if Julie is willing, we could do a mini-Q&A on PBs... anyone have any qs about PBs, writing, querying, etc? Might be useful since Janet doesn't rep PBs and would probably defer qs on PBs to experts... like Julie! :)

Julie Falatko said...

Hey, I'd be happy to, Colin! Ask me anything!

nightsmusic said...

I only subscribe to the NYT puzzles section for the crossword. Not the paper. It keeps my mind sharp and the older we get... ;)

Snappsy! I think I need to read this book :)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Colin This is why we love you here at the Reef. You risk exile in Carkoon for the greater good of the Reef.

Hi, Julie

Julie Falatko said...

nightsmusic! You totally need to read Snappsy. You should listen to me, because I'm super objective about it.

Hi E.M.!!

Colin Smith said...

Thanks, Julie! OK, I'll get the ball rolling. Did you choose your illustrator, or were you paired up by the publisher? How does that work?

Elise: You're welcome. I'll send you some kale sandwiches! ;)

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Ooooh, Colin, You're brilliant!

Julie, I recently read that PBs featuring anthropomorphic animals are becoming a hard sell. The trend is moving toward realistic animal stories/animals behaving naturally. Snappsy might disagree with this trend, but as you're immersed in the PB industry, would love your thoughts.

Julie Falatko said...

Hi Colin! That's a great question, and a common misconception. The author almost never has any say in the illustrator. The publisher often asks for suggestions, but I'm not sure how often the illustrator the author suggests is the one who gets picked. The reason for this is that the art director at a publisher knows way more than any author about what illustrations will work best with the book, and also knows about up-and-coming illustrators who the author has never heard of (which is what happened with me -- it was Tim and my first book).

Often, the author and illustrator are not even allowed to communicate, lest an overly bossy author try to dictate the illustrations. I was lucky in that Viking let me and Tim talk (and now we're pals).

Karen McCoy said...

I second the idea of a Q&A with Julie! I completely heart Snappsy. Thank you for writing him!

Karen McCoy said...

My question for Julie: What, in your opinion, is the most challenging aspect of writing a PB?

Julie Falatko said...

Hmmm, Melanie, I haven't heard that at all! ALL of my books feature anthropomorphic animals. I've never had anyone come back and say, "You know, if only this were the real story of a badger" or "can you make this elephant a girl?"

As always, if it's well written, and the main characters are exactly who they should be for the book, it shouldn't make any difference.

RosannaM said...

Hi, new Julie! Your book looks delightful.

Julie Falatko said...

Thank you, Karen!

The most challenging aspect of writing a picture book, for me, is distilling an idea down to its essence without bonking the essence over people's heads. I might have a fun-sounding idea (say, "a squirrel who owns a shoe shop"), but then I have to ask myself "why" and "who cares" until I figure out what the heart of the story is. And then I have to write it doesn't seem like a message book, just like a fun story.

Usually I write the whole thing first, revise it a few times, and then ask "who cares?"

Julie Falatko said...

Also p.s. I have to take my dog to the vet, but keep asking, and I'll answer when I get back! This is fun!

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Julie, Trying to find the source where I read about talking animals taking a downturn - glad to hear you feel it's bunk. I wrote a PB story about a lonely horse whose only friends are a sweet and kind dandelion and a crabby fence post; that article was so discouraging I never queried it.

Love the "about" page on your website. And hope all is well with your pup. I'm off to write a query letter for Sugar and The Dandelion.

BJ Muntain said...

And I'm sure that's not all the reading you do! In fact, I'd guess much of your reading is of clients' manuscripts, contracts, and frantic e-mails. :)

For those who didn't catch the reference here in the comments, 'PB' means 'Picture Book'.

Hi Julie F! Welcome to the Reef. I hope the vet visit is routine and not worrisome.

Julie Falatko said...

The vet visit was totally routine! Just a check-up. And more opportunities for belly rubs for my dogs. She's always angling for belly rubs from new humans.

Melanie, the more I think about it, it almost seems talking animals are taking an upswing, not a downturn. But really my advice is always to write your story, the story in your heart, and don't worry about what is trending or potentially not selling. Publishers, in my experience, are looking for authenticity and voice. If you write the story in your heart, you're most of the way there.

Joseph Snoe said...


Mike Cooper’s book looks interesting.

Julie Falatko’s book looks funny.

Janet Reid life looks efficient and productive.

Meanwhile, I waste most days berating myself for wasting time.

Amy Johnson said...

Melanie: I had read something similar about talking animals. I'm glad Snappsy says otherwise. Hope all goes well with Sugar and the Dandelion. How wonderful that you in particular have written a PB about a horse! I wanna read it.

Sherry Howard said...

Just chiming in on the anthropomorphic question. The two picture books I have coming soon are about a bear who talks and plays the drums in a rock and roll band. Small, but traditional, publisher.

Claire Bobrow said...

I do the NYT Mini Crossword at night. Maybe that's lame, but the long version would take me all day and I would never, ever end up with a picture book shelved near one by...

Julie Falatko?!?!

Yay! So happy to see you here, Julie. Love Snappsy, and I can't wait to get my hot little mitts on his latest adventure.

Susan said...

This whole post and thread is amazing. I love this community so much.

Hi, Julie! Welcome and congrats!

Melanie: QUERY THAT BOOK!
Oh, sorry. Was I shouting? Being too demanding? Here, let me try again:

QUERY THE HELL OUT OF THAT BOOK!

;) <3

Julie Falatko said...

Snappsy totally says otherwise. Snappsy (and Julie!) say please keep writing talking animal books.

I mean: do you like to read talking animal books? Then you should also write them!

Sherry: I am ALL ABOUT a rock and roll bear. That sounds great!

And I'm with Susan: query your book, Melanie! I was sold at "crabby fence post."

Thank you, Claire! I'm super excited about the next Snappsy book, I have to say.

Joseph Snoe said...

How come Mike Cooper is not on the "Writers Brave Enough to have a Shark for an Agent" list?

Gypmar said...

I have two questions I would love to hear from Julie Falatko and Sherry Howard on.

1. Did you find an agent by querying picture books specifically? Did you send more than one in a single query?


2. Do you write and submit your stories in the standard 24 pages of text? Do you write the story and worry about breaking it down later, or do you take the division of the pages into account as you write it, or do you ignore the 32 pages with 24 of them being text guideline altogether? It's hard to tell from the outside how important that "rule" is, and how to handle it when submitting.

Jennie H said...

Hi! Just caught up on the thread. (perfect midday escape from tasks) I saw your comment re: author doesn't pick illustrator and I heard an accompanying "sad trombone." I did it backwards. Wrote it (complete with anthropomorphic animals) and it's been illustrated. I'm terrified to pitch, now.

Don't know where to start; don't want to waste the illustrator or agent's time.

Help!

Sarah Floyd said...

Hi Julie! YES, doesn't everyone read this blog? : )

I love Snappsy!! When I go to the bookstore I always make sure he's facing out, ready to leap into customers' hands.

I appreciate your thoughts about "Why?" and "Who Cares?" I'll use those ideas to evaluate my next PB idea.

Best wishes with Snappsy #2!

Julie Falatko said...

Hi Gypmar!
I did find an agent by querying picture books specifically. I do write longer books, but knew when I was querying that I was going to mostly focus on picture books, so it was important to me to find an agent who knew a lot about picture books and the picture book industry. For the most part, I only sent one book, because that's what is usually requested in the query guidelines. There was one agent I queried who said "send us up to three picture books" and so, in that case, I did.

Which brings me to my next point: while you should generally only query one picture book, you should have at least two more completed, submittable picture book manuscripts ready and waiting. Send your best, or the one that matches the agent's taste most closely, but most agents will, if they respond positively, say, "Do you have any more manuscripts?" They want to see that you are looking at making picture books for the long haul, and that you have more than one idea, and that your small lineup of manuscripts are not just rehashing the same story.

I send in my stories formatted into paragraphs. So a 32-page manuscript will end up being about 4-5 pages of text. You can certainly break it into pages for yourself, or even make yourself a dummy to see how those page turns work, but submit it as straight text.

I have seen some sources say that you should break those paragraphs into pages, like this:

(page 7) (because often the first page is 7, or sometimes 5 if the copyright and such is at the end of the book)
Mister Yogurtface was not looking forward to the day.

(pages 8-9)
He was supposed to have breakfast with Old Lady Crumpet, and he knew it was going to be an unmitigated disaster.

But I've never submitted anything like that. I HAVE gotten manuscripts back from editors like that, as the editor starts to think about layout, but no one has ever requested that I put in the page breaks.

Julie Falatko said...

HI SARAH FLOYD! How are you? Besides being the best ever for putting Snappsy face out???

Julie Falatko said...

Hi Jennie H!
First of all, let me assure you that you are not the only one who has made this mistake. A lot of people write something and then get it illustrated.

However! It really isn't how it's done, and you run the risk of looking like you haven't done your research if you submit it like this. What you CAN do, though, is submit the manuscript and mention that you can, if requested, supply sample illustrations from [illustrator's name], which will work especially well if the illustrator has a great website with an online portfolio. There's no guarantee the agent will accept both of you (does your illustrator have an agent as well? if not, consider it from the agent's point of view: he or she has to sign you AND the illustrator to make submitting the story to editors really make business sense).

THAT SAID: occasionally agents will submit stories to publishers with illustrations attached as samples. Think about pairings like Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. When their agent (and they do have the same agent, Steven Malk) submitted Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, it was absolutely a package deal. Also, my agent (the amazing Danielle Smith) has found (again, occasionally) that a picture book sells better with sample illustrations attached. It really can (occasionally!) help to sell the story, and get people picturing it as a book.

Ooof, this is maybe a long-winded way of me trying not to let you down, but I honestly don't think you should submit your story to agents with the illustrations attached. I think, if you get agent interest, you can say, "I realize this is not the way it's normally done, but I did have [illustrator name] do illustrations for this book before I knew that wasn't the standard procedure, and s/he really knocked it out of the park. I know there's no guarantee of using those illustrations, but I wonder if you'd like to take a look at them?"

Gypmar said...

Julie, thank you so much! That is incredibly helpful. Looking forward to making Snappsy's acquaintance!

Jennie H said...

Thanks, Julie. I appreciate the thorough response. I'll heed your advice and submit the story separate but I *must* include a few sample illustrations, like you said.

Helps to hear I'm not the only one who's done it backwards.

I (clearly) didn't understand the agent/writer/illustrator relationship part of the process.

Unrelated? I just read the commenting rules and snarfled re: Spelling/grammar mistakes may be pointed out ONLY in the blog post itself, not in any of the ensuing commenter's contributions. HAHAHAHAHA.

Nicely played. JH

Julie Falatko said...

Jennie, are you clear on the agent/author/illustrator relationship now? If not, I'm happy to keep blabbing about it.

Colin Smith said...

[PSA]
Please keep going with your Qs for Julie as long as everyone understands this only runs for as long as Julie is able to keep checking back today. Apparently, not everyone lives their life on Janet's blog. Who knew? :)

I will make this comment thread a separate gem for the Treasure Chest, so be sure to get your best questions in!

And thanks again, Julie. This is AWESOME! So very helpful.
[/PSA]

Julie Falatko said...

Thanks, Colin! And really everyone, please ask me anything. There is this weird period of time where you know enough to know what you're doing, but you also have trouble finding answers to some of your questions. (Gypmar's question about how to format picture book submissions is a good example.) I wish I'd had a forum to ask my questions!

Colin Smith said...

(Oh, and I guess we should also thank Janet for unwittingly hosting this impromptu event. I have my thermal underwear packed and ready for when she finds out...)

Janet Reid said...

Joseph Snoe whatever do you mean?? Of course Mike is listed.

;)

PS Thank you for pointing that out.

Janet Reid said...

I think this is the coolest day ever on this blog, and there have been some good ones.

I am over the moon that Julie spent time here helping us all understand pbs.

I'm a devoted pb fan, and hoovered in the info like I was Snappsy at the All Night Dinner Dance Buffet.

Colin Smith said...

*waits for the... "but I'm still sending Colin to Carkoon because... well, it's fun!"*

Keep up with the PB questions, folks! :)

Here's one:

Julie, given the limited word count for PBs (no more than about 700 words?), how on earth do you write a query for that? You mentioned how hard it is to distill a story down to its essence, I can only imagine it being even harder to then sum that up for a query blurb without giving away the whole story. Do you just say "My PB is called MISTER YOGURTFACE AND THE GELATO QUEEN (see complete text below)" or do you write a 250 word blurb too?

Julie Falatko said...

JANET, you are the best!

And you'll be happy to know there's EVEN MORE FOOD in the second Snappsy book, so more of a buffet, even.

Barbara Etlin said...

*waves at Sarah and other PB writers*

Thanks, Julie, for answering questions about PBs! I follow you on Twitter and your books look like fun.

I'd also like to put in a plug for the SCBWI/Verla Kay Blueboards forum, where you can get answers to anything about writing and illustrating for children. You don't have to be a member of SCBWI to comment or ask questions, but you have to register.

-- Barb, a former moderator

Julie Falatko said...

Hi Colin,
You should ABSOLUTELY write a query blurb for a picture book. And, in my opinion, you should get in the habit of writing a number of different pitches for everything you write. It can help you figure out if there are any problems with your story, and you'll be ready when it comes time to query or do a Twitter pitch contest. I feel so passionate about this, I actually made a WHOLE VIDEO about why I think it's so important to write pitches: https://youtu.be/kRjqiW5fLok

In my query to Danielle for Snappsy, I did it like so:

Snappsy the alligator was having an ordinary day. Or so he thought. The narrator seemed to think he was having an identity crisis. No, Snappsy was not looking for innocent forest creatures to devour, and he was not obsessed with food that starts with the letter P. He was just a regular alligator, planning a party. And he wasn't going to invite the narrator. So there.

SNAPPSY THE ALLIGATOR (DID NOT ASK TO BE IN THIS BOOK), a 716-word picture book for 4-8 year olds, is STRANGER THAN FICTION meets CHLOE AND THE LION.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

In from afternoon chores (horses, ya know) for some hydration and a snack. And another read-through of the comments.

Some "thanks" are in order: Janet, for allowing this Q&A. Colin, for thinking of it. And Julie for participating. So fun! An additional thanks to Julie: I'll be purchasing copies of Snappsy. 'Cause authors need to sell books.

Julie, Speak to us of querying PBs. Beyond doing our research on agents who rep PBs, following their guidelines and so on... how is writing the actual query for PBs different than other mss?

Julie Falatko said...

Melanie, I think writing the query is exactly the same as other mss. You just plug in picture-book-specific info. So your comp titles will probably be picture books (though, if you see mine above, I used a movie as one of my comp titles). Your pitch/synopsis will probably be shorter than one for a novel. And your word count will be much lower. But other than that, I think it's the same.

Colin Smith said...

Oh wow! I love that query. Will you write mine? I'm writing an adult detective novel, but still... ;) Seriously, though, thanks for sharing SNAPPSY's query. That's really helpful.

Here's Julie's link: https://youtu.be/kRjqiW5fLok

Lynne Main said...

And I thought Janet did nothing all day but eat bonbons (whiskey flavored, for sure). ;) After seeing a day in your life, Janet, I feel completely lazy. Despite I cleaned the house, entertained my youngest by imitating Bob the Minion (King Bob!) for the gazillionth time, and oh yeah, working on my WIP when my husband wasn't going, "What's for supper?"

Seriously, Janet earns her 15% and then some.

Julie F., I think I might just be buying a copy of Snappsy for my youngest. I love picture books (someday, I'll finish one of my PB M/S) and so doesn't my little guy.

Colin Smith said...

Oh, and while you're thinking of questions for Julie, check out her other videos. These are particularly awesome:

The Truth about the Writing Process
The Case Cover for Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever (Probably)--Possibly one of the best book teasers EVER! :)

Julie Falatko said...

Oh sure, Colin, I'll write your query:

Guy Darkly is a sheep on a mission...a mission to find out who's pulling the wool over his---

DARNIT I CAN ONLY WRITE PICTURE BOOK QUERIES.

Thank you for linking to and watching my videos!!!

Julie Falatko said...

Thank you, Lynne! I hope your little guy likes it!

Megan V said...

Just wanted to pop in to say Thank You Julie!

AJ Blythe said...

Would someone please push Australia and America closer together so I stop missing all the fun?

Julie F. your query for Snappsy totally rocks. My kids are well past pb books, but I still have 3 large packing boxes of pb's in the house (much to The Hub's frustration) because I can't part with them. And my favourites are nearly all anthropomorphic animal books. I wonder if anyone has asked the kids if they are tired of these books?

Julie Falatko said...

I'm happy to do this, Megan V! It's fun!

Colin Smith said...

AJ: When your youngest is 13, you really have run out of excuses for buying picture books. You have to simply admit "OK, I got it for ME! Happy now??!" Which is what I'll be doing when I place my order for SNAPPSY THE ALLIGATOR DID NOT ASK TO BE IN THIS BOOK. Or I could call it research... isn't that what we do? :)

Claire Bobrow said...

Jumping back in to say what a fabulous day this has been on the blog. The wealth of PB info overfloweth the treasure chest. Thank you Janet, Julie, Colin - and everyone else who chimed in with questions and comments re: PB. So helpful!

AJ Blythe said...

Hmmm. Colin, you are so right! I should still buy picture books because maybe I will write one, and as they say, read widely in the genre. *wink*

Theresa said...

This has been a fabulous day! Thanks Julie and Janet!

Janet Reid said...

Do we need Snappsy flash fiction contest?

Colin Smith said...

Janet: umm... yes. :)

Panda in Chief said...

Pandas are leaping into the conversation late, as per usual! I will be in HUGE trouble if anthropomorphic animals ever go out of style!
Heh!
Thanks for all this great information Julie and WELCOME from a big fan of anthropomorphic animals! Can't wait to meet Snappsy!

From my (small) experience, illustrators are usually expected to figure out the page breaks. The PB authors supply the text and the illustrator figures out how it's going to look and what the illustrations will be. The general rule in PB's is that text tells one part of the story and the illustrations tell the rest. So the idea is not to illustrate exactly what the author has written, but to expand on it. Personally, I think this is much easier when you are doing both writing and illustrating.

While what Julie says about authors not getting to pick (or even have any say) in who illustrates, I know there are a few exceptions. I think Candlewick will sometimes narrow it down to a handful of illustrators they think would be a good match for the text, and let the author weigh in. Also people who are both authors as well as illustrators seem to be in demand right now.

I'm in an interesting situation in that a writer friend wrote a non-fiction picture book (about pandas!) with a lot of input from me, with the idea I would illustrate it. Fast forward a couple years, and now we are represented by the same literary agency and our repsective agents have decided they think they can sell it, so we said yay! (Rather than indie pub) I'll let you know what happens.

Anyway, great discussion today! Keep those anthropomorphic animal stories coming. I want to read the one about the bear in the rock band too.

Panda in Chief said...

And we should definitely send Colin for a refresher course on Carkoon.

And I buy a lot of PBs. Can I plug a new favorite? The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken. An idea, Beautifully illustrated.
I don't need an excuse to buy PBs. I consider them art books.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Just jumped back in the water at the reef. WOW what an awesome day and I missed it.
Julie, Janet, Colin AND all the rest love you guys.

Beth Carpenter said...

I'm late to the party, but I've learned so much from Julie today. Thank you! And thanks to Colin for suggesting it. I love Snappy.

Kate Higgins said...

2Ns:
There was a doctor in Boise who specialized in drug intervention whose name was...I kid you not....Dr Fixx.

And a good friend of my husband was going to talk at a an Audubon luncheon. When I started laughing, he asked why.
"Because," I said "I can't believe Robin Finch is going to speak to bird watchers!"

MA Hudson said...

Julie F - thanks for all the info you've shared about PB writing. It's wonderful to hear from someone on the other side of the publishing line!
Just wondering how many agents you queried before getting a hit? Or did you end up getting an agent some other way?
Cheers.

Kate Higgins said...

Hi Julie, I love Snappsy!

Ok guys, so I just read all these comments and thought I might out a couple of pennies worth of info out there. A few years ago I accidentally snagged a niche publisher for my picture book. It happened serendipitously, no time for an agent, they wanted the book out for Orville and Wilbur Wright's flight anniversary. The publisher basically has lucrative market on all books that teach, inform and instruct pilots of every kind.

I'm an author and illustrator of picture books. When you are PB Chimeric you not only have to write the book but illustrate it too...and be good at both. That also means you have to work twice as hard. And suffer twice the disappointment when they orphan your book. They decided that they couldn't take a chance "...at this time" and pulled it just before it went to catalog. Sigh.

Oh, I got to keep my advance and gave back all the legally stuff but the book never got published. I have yet to work up the courage to seek an agent. I've always had the Girl Scout cookie approach to 'selling' my work: "You don't want to buy my cookies do you mister?"
I have 3 books written and partially illustrated and about 20 ideas for more but I'm the cowardly lion pulling her own tail.

Colin: With many PB agents who request the author/illustrator combo, they want a query and the full text plus 5 or 6 examples of your art and tentative page layout. Good thing is you don't split the royalties, bad thing is it's a basket load of revision, both written and visual.

Claire Bobrow said...

Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This FF contest) - but I vote yes!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Finally time to read through and absorb this comment path.

Thank you, Julie and Janet and Colin and all the questioners.

And I vote yes for a Snappsy the Alligator FF contest.

John Davis Frain said...

Darnit, I picked the wrong day to show up at the blog after midnight. Pesky clients keeping me busy. Grrr.

Last month I saw Colin in Writer's Digest, and now it appears he's made the New York Times crossword. Friend of Will Shortz, are you, Colin?

I can't read it from here, but my guess is that the clue for 6 Across is something like "Future NYT bestseller"

The answer, assuming Janet is correct (and to avoid a fin slap, you better believe I'm making that assumption!), is CDS.

AJ Blythe said...

Talk about eagle-eyed, John! But as it's guaranteed your assumption that Janet, being QOTKU, nailed the crossword, then it would appear Colin is the answer. And while your guess at the question is undoubtedly also accurate, I like to think it may also be: Who has spent the most time at Carkoon?

Julie Falatko said...

Yes to what Barb said about the SCBWI Blueboards! They are an incredible resource and how I found my first critique group.

AJ and Colin: as far as I'm concerned, there's no need to stop reading picture books, EVER. My kids are 7, 9, 11, and 14, so definitely some that are firmly still in picture book category, and some that aren't. But I love seeing the different take my olders and youngers will have on a book. Plus I know some middle school teachers who use picture books as mentor texts for writing, since they are so accessible.

YES PLEASE ON SNAPPSY FLASH FICTION CONTEST. That is such an amazing concept that I don't know what to do with myself.

Hi Panda! Yes, you're right, the illustrator (and, to a certain extent, art director and editor) dictate the page breaks, but I think it's important for the author to keep them in mind, since they are such a fun way to play with tension and storytelling. And yes too on the illustrator telling part of the story. I love what Mo Willems says about how the text should not make sense without the illustrations, and vice versa.

Author/illustrators have special advantages, and special abilities. I do not think visually at all, and am in complete awe of illustrators' abilities to tell a story through pictures. People often ask me if Snappsy looks like what I thought he would, and my honest answer is that I didn't picture him looking any way. Who the narrator is in Snappsy is a surprise in the book, and was a surprise to me. I left that up to Tim to figure out, and it was a big moment the first time I saw first sketches and got to figure out who my narrator was.

I will say also that every publisher goes about the illustrator process differently. Some editors keep the author informed about who they are considering, and whether people are interested or not, and some don't. Some choose the illustrator after the text has been through all of its edits, and some choose the illustrator right after the text is acquired.

And YES on The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken. That book is AMAZING. I love it so much.

MA Hudson: I queried what I think is a shockingly low number of agents: 11. I spent about two years writing picture book manuscripts at a frenzied pace, trying to bump up my craft. And then another year honing the best stories. But that year-of-honing was also to get to that place of having submittable manuscripts, and also delaying what I knew would be inevitable rejections. I would see people getting rejected and would be jealous of them, because I wanted to be ready to submit, let alone get rejected. So when it finally came time to submit, I did a ton of research. I wanted to make sure I was submitting to an agent who loved picture books. Also, my stories are kind of weird. So I needed an agent who not only liked picture books, but liked weird ones.

Kate: thank you! And yes, as the author/illustrator you have more work to do, but yes also more royalties and more control over the finished book. KEEP WRITING! You're so close! And what an incredibly frustrating story about the publisher pulling your book.

BJ Muntain said...

Thanks again, Julie F!

Thanks for your time, for sharing your experience, and for being such a nice person. Best of luck with Snappsy and all!

MA Hudson said...

Julie F - thanks for your response and congrats on snagging an agent so quickly. Sounds like you certainly put in the hard yards.
Snappsy looks like he's equal parts cool and adorable, so I'm sure lots of mum's will 'snap' him up and their kids are sure to 'devour' him!