This post is specifically for anyone interested in the submission process when it comes to having literary work published. Likely, many writers will want to read this. However, and perhaps just as likely, the entire world may be curious about the process. Anyhow (I love that word!), I thought I’d tell you the point of this post right from the start so those who are not curious about the publishing process can stop reading now and finish that cup of coffee. Or start that load of laundry. Or, you know, get on with your day.
My previous post discussed the pros and cons of sending a book to publishers or to literary agents when seeking a publishing deal, and asked your opinion on which I should do with my book, Yoba’s Bedtime. The overall consensus was that I should send it to literary agents for representation.
The process of trying to figure out the best approach was complicated. Sitting at my desk, writing this post, it occurred to me that the process was much like drinking from a glass of water. The first sips (bits of information) were refreshing and left me thirsty for more; but the more I absorbed, the fuller I got. By the time I reached the “bottom of the glass,” I was completely waterlogged! And I had a strong desire to pee! In other words, I felt like I needed to flush all the information out of my system. And what better way to do that than to spill out all that information here?
So, are you ready? Cheers to our first drink of cold water! Take a slow, big sip, and let us begin:
Here’s what I found out . . .
and what I did . . .
Every literary agent has their preference for the type of material they are looking for, so very quickly, this narrowed down the list of agents I could submit to. I mean, I’m not going to send a children’s book to a literary agent who is currently looking for nonfiction history stories, or to an agent who is looking for young adult chapter books.
This caused me to stress because I don’t only write children’s books. In fact, Yoba’s Bedtime is the first and only children’s book I’ve written (although there are two more already planned.) I write everything: poetry, lyrics, short stories. The list is endless, really.
And as many of you know, my next project, which was started long before Yoba’s Bedtime, is Terrebonne Parish—a fiction/Christian/mystery novel.
So the question then becomes: If I find a literary agent for Yoba’s Bedtime, would he/she then represent me for Terrebonne Parish as well? I feel the answer is no. But I don’t know that for sure. I will let you know when/if I find out.
Also, the submission process for each literary agent is different and very specific. Very. Some prefer snail mail (which is my favorite) and some prefer email. Of those who prefer email, some do not want any attachments to the email so you have to embed your entire story (or the first so many chapters, if it’s a chapter book) into the email. Some, who do accept attachments, want documents attached as a plain text document. Others, as a PDF. And, depending on what program the receiver of your email uses to open the attachment (Windows, Mac, UNIX, etc.), it’s hard to tell what your document actually looks like when they open it.
And then there’s the attachment of illustrations!! (gulp)
Some request that the illustrations be attached as a .jpeg file, and some accept shared documents via Google Drive. Either way, they are specific in their request about the size and type of the attachment. Joshua Baker sent all the illustrations horizontal and sized 10×7 (because that’s the program he uses for storyboarding); some agents would only accept 8×11 illustrations.
And let us not even discuss pixel size! (gulp)
So . . . being limited as to which literary agents I could submit Yoba’s Bedtime to, I decided to tag-team the publishing world. I sent Yoba’s Bedtime to literary agents AND publishers. I should tell you that I ran into the same problems submitting to publishers as I did with agents: submission preferences, document types and sizes, etc.
In fact, one publisher who is currently accepting unsolicited (work submitted directly from the author) children’s books asked that I not attach any illustrations. How do you represent a children’s book properly without the illustrations?
I submitted it anyway, confident the story alone makes the book desirable . . . and secretly hoping they’ll love it so much that they’ll next request the illustrations.
Now, it’s a waiting game to see if any agents or publishers contact me. Almost all the agents and publishers have a standard statement on their page that says it could take them 4-6 weeks to respond, if they respond at all.
In the meantime, Terrebonne Parish is going to get my full attention, which should make
my the editor happy . . .
And me too, to tell the truth. I love Yoba, and it’s been fun bringing him to life, but I’ve been missing Karla an awful lot lately . . .
And Helen. Helen has been on my mind and in my dreams–her ghostly nightgown flickering between the trees as I struggle in my bare feet to keep up with her.
“Follow me,” she’s yelling. “Follow me!”
And so I follow, longing for the day you join us.