Friday, June 14, 2013

The Hazards of Being a Professional Waiter

I am pretty darn good at waiting. I actually like to think of myself as a professional waiter. No, not the kind that waits on tables. The kind that waits to hear back on manuscripts. If you're a writer you'd better get good at waiting because there's a lot of it.

That doesn't mean that waiting is always easy. Sure, sometimes it is. Like when you know the response time is three months and you've just sent the manuscript. Chances are it's going to be at least three months before you hear back. You can sub more, write more, etc. to keep yourself busy while you're waiting. But sometimes we just want to hear. Right now. Does anyone we've subbed to like our manuscript? Did they even open it yet? What if it didn't even get there? *gasp*

Well, in some situations we'll just never know. So many publishing houses and even agents have a no response is no policy now. I understand, it can be frustrating. We spend loads of time researching where to send our manuscripts. We know ridiculous amounts of information about people(agents and editors) we don't even know. Of course, we'd like to know them, that's why we're sending them our manuscripts. I've even gone so far as to send a submission to a publisher that insists on a three month exclusive but gives no response. So, I wait three months on my very well targeted, personalized submission that I spent hours on, then cross it off my list if I hear nothing. Pretty anti-climatic.

Another thing I've noticed as of late it that there are many houses and agents who are not reaching their goals on stated response time. I find this completely understandable. I can only imagine the piles of submissions they have to go through. And all the other things they have to do before they can take the time to read unsolicited submissions. It just means that I have to wait even longer than I had hoped I'd have to wait. And that I have to keep up with the various places I can find the agent or publisher's response time information if I am trying to figure out if I need to status query, which I am always reluctant to do. And also if I am dying to know. Which, if course I am.

Ooo, you know what stinks the most? When you've been waiting on a submission that is due. You go re-check the submission guidelines, and they have been changed to a no response or even a no submissions policy. *Sigh. It can be hard for a writer to keep up!

Why am I telling you all this? I just seem to be having one of those impatient moments. When I'd like to hear back on a submission. Even just one. Of course, I'd like it to be a good response. I've learned from experience that those definitely take longer to hear back on.

Yes, it's okay to feel impatient.What it's not okay to do is pester those you've subbed to. That will bring you a definite no. Plus it's just rude. Having to deal with all this waiting is just one of the hazards of being a writer.

Guess I'd better get back to revising the chapter book I'm working on getting ready to send out. Somehow having more to wait on makes it easier. If you're waiting on manuscripts feel free to hit me up. I'll wait along with you! You are, of course, invited to join our group at Sub It Club where we wait together. It somehow makes it a little easier, having others who understand, to share the waiting with.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Beware the Agent Bio

As you probably would figure, I try to keep on top of agent news for the Monster List of Picture Book Agents as well as for Sub It Club. Plus I'm a writer and I just can't help it! Anyway, I've come across something a couple of times that made me go, huh? Now, this is definitely not the norm and I am not even going to point out who they are, but I have actually found and agent or two who has used being a parent in their bio as their qualification to represent picture books.

You do know that as writers if we put that in our bio there is a 99.999% chance that we will get the old eye roll.
Since when has being a parent become a qualification to sell children’s literature?
Now, I’m not saying that as a parent you might not be completely immersed in picture books. I hope you are! I don’t discredit the hours and hours spent reading with children. On the contrary. I think it’s fabulous. You find out what kids respond to. What they love in a story and why. What they don’t like and why not. Plus there’s lots of great snuggle time!

But, if you’re going to have someone work to sell your writing, don’t you want them to have stronger qualifications? Or at least know enough to not to use being a parent as their qualification? You need someone who knows the intricacies of picture books. Understands how the words and illustrations support each other. And if you write in rhyme you need someone who is in sync with rhythm and meter as well. All in all, when you're looking for someone to help you make writing your career, you want someone you can trust.

So, read those bios before querying, my friends! And make the best decision for you and your writing. Like the old saying goes, having a bad agent is worse than having no agent at all.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Monster List of Picture Book Agents - Carly Watters, P.S. Literary Agency

Update 10/7/2015: Carly Watters is not looking to represent picture books at this time. Please check her "Who We Are" listing on the P.S. Literary website for the latest in what she is looking for.

Carly Watters is a literary agent at P.S. Literary Agency. She's quite active online and you can learn a lot about her to help you decide whether or not she might be the right agent for you.

Carly's website, is a great place to start. She has a blog, a list of clients, and a What I'm Looking For page where she lists, "High Concept Picture Books." From looking at Carly's sales page it looks like she has one picture book sale, ELLA AND THE BALLOONS IN THE SKY, written by Danny Appleby and Illustrated by Lauren Pirie, both of whom are clients. Carly's post on picture books on her blog goes into a bit more detail about what she's interested in when it comes to picture books.

There's an informative November 2012 interview with Carly at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) There's an interesting tidbit or two at Literary Rejections about Ms. Watters' career and she has done a lengthy interview there as well. Missouri Writers' Guild has a January 2013 interview.

At the P.S. Literary website, you will find Carly's Bio on the About Us page. specific submission guidelines along with some specific query letter instructions and approximate response time. Their FAQ's may be of interest as well. You might also want to read Carly's post on pitching your book.

Carly Watters is quite active on Twitter. You can find her at @carlywatters. She is also on Linkedin and Instagram.

This post is part of the Monster List of Picture Book Agents. If you have any changes that you think should be made to this listing, please contact me or leave them in the comments. Thanks!