Do you have an agent?
Melanie Hope Greenberg: I did for a long time, we published 16 picture books together. It’s a relationship and they can change. I might want another agent but currently trying to make the rounds on my own first. Repping myself has been a total re-education. I’m quietly learning who the art directors and editors are in juvenile publishing. I send them art samples while creating new picture book dummies and manuscripts to submit. Navigating this business is a big maze. It’s fun to create that book project. The next step is finding out the appropriate editor to send it to. That’s a whole new education. If I do get an agent I would be a good partner with all I have learned.
Erin Taylor: Were you actively searching for an agent when you found the one you had through the 16 books?
Stefania Candeliere: Can you contact an editor directly? If so, will they listen? When you started, did you look for an editor or for an agent?
MHG: Yes. Two people gave me her name in the same week. I was very lucky to be chosen right away.
MHG: @SC: I fell into this business with no clue about who was who and what they did. Thank goodness I found an agent who could open doors for me. I am forever grateful. Contacting editors is tricky. It’s not a one size fits all business. Each editor has their own protocol. That is why I have taught myself who they all are and what they like. Some like the personal approach, some are hands off. Some like dog stories, some dislike dog stories. A good agent will know their preferences and will send your book projects accordingly.
Erin Taylor: Also, when I was listening to a panel of editors/art directors, some of whom said they look at agented material first. Have you found any difference since you have started to do your own repping?
MHG: I’m just about to get out there again after a year, plus studying and re-aligning. Will let you know how it goes. The reason editors will see agented work is because the submissions will likely be much more polished.
JC: @ Stefania: A great way to meet editors and art directors is through the various conferences and meetings sponsored by the SCBWI chapters throughout the country. Often these events will include one-on-one critiques for an added fee. More about SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) can be found here: http://www.scbwi.org/
Erin Taylor: I agree! There is such a benefit to meeting the editors/art directors face to face, as opposed to being a name on a mailing. At the national conferences you’ve got a couple hundred editors and agents seeing your work! And at a regional conference I had a portfolio review with an award-winning author/illustrator and she loved my work so much that she personally introduced me to her editor. I go to the conferences to learn and network, not just hoping to be discovered . . . but there is always a better chance of it happening if you attend 🙂
JC: I must say it’s impressive how much more polished illustrator presentations have become at SCBWI portfolio reviews. The best ones take the time to focus on one project that best displays how well they can develop a variety of characters in a consistent style, with both a book dummy and finished samples of work printed out in book size format. Complete with polished business cards!