Courtney Pippin-Mathur is an illustrator/author living in the east coast with three children, no pets and her first book , "Maya was Grumpy", releasing in Spring of 2013 with Flashlight Press. For more information, please visit, www.pippinmathur.com.
Please welcome Courtney as she talks about the Picture Book Dummy Challenge STEP 8: Research submissions; prepare dummy package Jun. 18-Jun. 24
Now that you’ve done all the hard work in getting your dummy ready, it’s time to send it out into the big, bad world.
I know, labels suck. But you have to have some idea of where your work would fit in the kid-lit world. Is it quirky? Realistic? Soft? Cartoon-y? Edgy?
Agents and Editors will say what they like, so you need to understand what you’re offering. If you’re not sure, ask your critique buddies or online friends for their opinions.
Start to look for the right agent or the right publishing house. This, my friends, is going to take time. First, make a list of all of the agents or houses that will take your work.
Some places to find that information are :
After you’ve found most of the open agents or houses (and let’s be honest here, there are not that many for picture books, but as an illustrator you do have a few more willing eyes) you need to go to their websites and find out what they are looking for and if you think your work would be a good match for them.
Cyber Stalking is a good way to do this. Look at all the interviews they have given,
is a great place to start with fabulous interviews by some of the industry’s best. Go to twitter, go to blogs, practice your google-fu until you are a master and you can make a list of your top five, 10 or 20 choices.
Write the Query Letter
In the letter, you can say where you saw them, if you like some of their client’s work but the main things are the title of your book, a 2- 3 sentence blurb or pitch (the most important part) about your book and the word count. Do not attach your dummy. But certainly mention that you have one.
Keep it simple.
When I participated in the kidlitart picture book dummy session last year, this was my pitch,
“A little princess gets a surprise when her baby brothers turn out to be smashing, drooling, gobbling baby dragons.”
And I was one of the winners. Simple with fun language is almost always your best bet.
Send the Query letter to your critique partners, this is your first introduction so it needs to shine. You can see mine (and many others at Query Tracker success stories)
Follow the direction EXACTLY. If they want you attach the story, do so. If not, don’t.
Then you wait. When I signed with my agent late last year, she responded in 2 days, asked for the dummy and scheduled a phone call a few days later. However, when I was subbing previously, I was sometimes contacted a few days , sometimes a few weeks later. And once 6 months later, so be patient, wait , write a new story, draw new pictures and try not to fret. (yes, I know this is impossible, but you must try)
(My best advice when it comes to dummies, is to have it in a pdf form , either on a secret page on your site or compressed enough that you can e-mail it, and an actual very neat, real copy. (like the one Will Terry described in an earlier post) I have had both requested and was glad I had done all of the work before and could send it off as soon as they asked for it. )
Thank you so much Courtney, for sharing your wisdom and your success story. I can't wait to get my copy of Maya was Grumpy!