Cornucopia.

Such a lovely autumn word. Such an appropriate word to describe the array of prizes that were donated by our supremely generous 12 x 12 in 2012 member authors. A cornucopia of prizes. (You know I am fanatical about collective nouns, right???)

Meanwhile, you are all just asking yourselves, WHEN will she FINALLY tell us who the winners of these lovely prizes are?? Is it MEEEE?

Well, wait no more my lovelies. Here are the winners, announced in the order the prizes were donated. Once again, HUGE thanks to everyone who donated prizes for our end-of-summer 12 x 12 celebration. The more I do with the 12 x 12 challenge, the more I’m convinced the participants make the world go round. You guys are awesome!!

AND THE WINNERS ARE…. (Drum Roll…)

Could I be any more annoying right now? I doubt it….

So without further adieu…

  1. WINNER of a Picture Book Critique from Ryan Gosling’s true love Tara Lazar is … KIM MOUNSEY
  2. WINNER of a Query Letter Critique from BEDTIME MONSTER Heather Ayris Burnell is … SHERI COOK
  3. WINNER of a signed copy of Sue Fliess’ adorable (and I say that as an owner) new book TONS OF TRUCKS is … CYNTHIA IANNACONNE
  4. WINNER of a Picture Book Critique from PHYLLIS’ mother Susanna Hill is … CARTER HIGGINS
  5. WINNER of a signed copy of Meter Maid Corey Schwartz’ brand new book THREE NINJA PIGS is … MARGARET GREENIAS
  6. WINNER of a copy of author Sandy Asher’s indispensable book WRITING IT RIGHT: How Successful Children’s Authors Revise and Sell Their Stories is … CARRIE FINISON
  7. WINNER of a A FREE gift certificate to attend VERY FABULOUSLY FAIRY author Emma Walton Hamilton’s 8-week Just Write for Kids picture book course is … VIVIAN KIRKFIELD
  8. WINNER of a signed copy of “THERE WAS A GENEROUS AUTHOR” Jennifer Ward’s latest book, THERE WAS AN OLD PIRATE WHO SWALLOWED A FISH along with a teacher’s guide, PLUS a picture book critique is … KATHY CORNELL BERMAN
  9. WINNER of BRAIN BURPS media sensation Katie Davis‘ 12 PLUS 12 $24 Gift Certificate worth $24 (for math strugglers) is … ALISON HERTZ
  10. WINNER of a signed copy of ONE ZANY AUTHOR Lori Degman’s book ONE ZANY ZOO plus a rhyming Picture Book Critique is … ERIK WIEBEL
  11. WINNER of a signed copy of Renowned MIDDLE SCHOOL SURVIVOR Donna Gephart’s book OLIVIA BEAN, TRIVIA QUEEN, including bookmarks is … PENNY KLOSTERMANN
  12. WINNER of a signed copy Donkey (NO! Elephant), Elephant (NO! Donkey), Donkey (NO! Elephant), Elephant (NO! Donkey) Author Ben Clanton’s VOTE FOR ME! plus a hand-drawn/painted coaster (because you know you’re going to need a place to set your drink on election night) is … BETH STILBORN

PLEASE give back to these wonderful authors who’ve given so much to the 12 x 12 community!! BUY THEIR BOOKS! Write reviews for them on Amazon and Goodreads. Give them a tweet or a tumblr. 🙂

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Authors, Autumn, Brain Burps About Books, Children's Books, Giveaway, Goals, Picture Books, Queries, Rhyming, Social Media, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Back to school. Back to work. Back to life. Back to reality.

That’s what September is all about –

usually. But not if you are a 12 x 12 in 2012 member! I got together with some amazingly generous participating authors to plan an end-of-summer party! This month, it’s all prizes and no study. Instead of a featured author and one prize, we have lots of authors giving stuff away. GREAT stuff!

Summer is NOT over!

So, dig your toes in the sand one more time, stick that umbrella back in your drink and soak up the last of the sun. This month, it’s all about fun!

(And if you are on the other side of the world, this is your ‘Congratulations-you-made-it-through-winter-and-spring-is-on-the-way’ party)!

Participants, in order to win a prize you must be an official challenger and leave a comment on this post (INCLUDING YOUR FIRST AND LAST NAME) any time during the month of September for one point. On September 30th, l’ll put a check-in post on the blog.  If you complete a picture book draft in September, you can let us know in the comments of that post for another point. I will draw a winner using Random.org and announce on October 2nd.

Do not let the opportunity to win these fabulous prizes pass you by. Remember to comment on both posts!

HERE are the AMAZING prizes YOU could WIN!

  1. Picture book critique from author Tara Lazar
  2. Query letter critique from author Heather Ayris Burnell.
  3. Signed copy of author Sue Fliess‘ adorable new book TONS OF TRUCKS
  4. Picture book critique from author Susanna Hill
  5. Signed copy of the brand new book (release date Sept. 27) by Meter MaidCorey SchwartzTHE THREE NINJA PIGS! Kiya!
  6. Copy of author Sandy Asher’s indispensable book WRITING IT RIGHT: How Successful Children’s Authors Revise and Sell Their Stories
  7. A FREE gift certificate to attend author Emma Walton Hamilton’s 8-week Just Write for Kids picture book course!! If you missed your chance to win in June when Emma was our featured author, here’s another crack at this fantastic prize.
  8. A signed copy of author Jennifer Ward’s latest book (release date Sept. 18) THERE WAS AN OLD PIRATE WHO SWALLOWED A FISH along with a teacher’s guide, PLUS a picture book critique
  9. A special coupon from author/illustrator Katie Davis. It’s called the 12 PLUS 12. With it, you’ll have $24 (for non-math majors – $24 is 12+12) to spend however you choose in her products store. Not only does she already have incredibly helpful tools for authors, by October there will be even more for the winner to choose from.
  10. Signed copy of Lori Degman’s book ONE ZANY ZOO PLUS a rhyming picture book critique.
  11. Signed copy of author Donna Gephart’s book OLIVIA BEAN, TRIVIA QUEEN and some bookmarks.
  12. Signed copy of author/illustrator Ben Clanton’s book VOTE FOR ME! and a hand drawn/painted coaster.

Want to give back to these wonderful authors who’ve given so much to the 12 x 12 community? BUY THEIR BOOKS! Write reviews for them on Amazon and Goodreads. Give them a tweet or a tumblr. 🙂

Categories: 12 x 12 Featured Author, 12 x 12 in 2012, Authors, Children's Books, Giveaway, Goals, Picture Books, Summer, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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I wish I could give you all a chocolate covered doughnut. Heck, I wish I could give myself one!

So. As of today I’ve been blogging for 2 years. Thank you all for putting up with me hanging out with me and making this blog a pure joy to write.  I could write all day about what this blog has meant to me, but I’d rather make it a celebration of YOU – the reader.  So let’s start with a giveaway, shall we?

There are two items up for grabs (get it? The repetition of the “2” theme??).  First is a $25 Amazon gift certificate.  I figure as the holiday season rushes in, everyone could make use of this.  Second is a critique from yours truly – either a picture book manuscript or the first 10 pages of a work in any other genre.  For both I will provide a “big picture” analysis of what is working well in your manuscript and areas that need attention.  I will also provide line by line comments.  You should come away with some concrete steps you can take to improve your work.

So how do you win?  First, you must be a follower of the blog. If you are a new follower, please tell me how you follow – email, RSS, Networked Blogs, etc.  Second (see how we’re still on the “2” theme?), I have asked four questions in this post (Four being 2 x 2).  To enter the contest, you must you leave a comment and answer at least one of the questions.  For each question you answer, you will receive one point.  For those of you who are keeping track, that means you can earn a maximum of four points.  (I know, I know.  You’re all saying to yourselves: “Wow, she can write AND do advanced math!!!).  Please also tell me which of the two items you’d like.  I’d appreciate tweets but unfortunately I’m not going to count them as points this time because it’s Thanksgiving week and I’m trying to keep things simple for both you and me.  You have until next Wednesday, November 23rd to enter.  I’ll announce the winners on Thanksgiving Day! Now that’s something to be thankful for…

Last year, I asked four questions that came from a post entitled, 8 Critical Questions You Should Ask Yourself as a Blogger.  I only got 7 responses, so it didn’t give me much of a sense of what my blog readers really think.  Since my number of followers has grown quite a bit this year (woo hoo!), and the questions are still very relevant and important to me, I figured I’d try again. In order to gear up for the next year of blogging, I’d like to hear more about you and what you would like to see on this blog (and blogs in general).  So here goes:

1.  Are you blogging about your passion?

This is an easy yes for me.  I am passionate about writing, certainly, but I am also passionate about my family, my dog, nature, reading, cooking, traveling, etc.  I try to balance posts about writing and posts about my life.  This year, for example, I chronicled my family’s stay in Italy this summer as well as launching a series for writers – How I Got My Agent.  I enjoy writing about a range of topics and fear I’d get bored (and the blog would suffer) if I limited myself to writing.  BUT, I would like to know if you think the my passion comes through in my blog posts, regardless of the subject du jour.  Should I be putting more personality/passion in the posts or I am I already at risk of revealing TMI?

2.  Do you know your audience?

Some of the sub-questions here ask whether you know what your readers want and don’t want and whether they find your posts useful.  I believe my most active readers/followers are fellow writers, but I also know that I have quite a few non-writer followers who don’t comment as often but read most of the posts.  I try to serve both audiences without being schizophrenic.  So I ask you, if you are a writer, do you still enjoy the more personal posts?   If you are not a writer, do your eyes glaze over when you read the writing posts, or do I manage to make them interesting to you?

3.  Are you building a community?

I think so.  I try to ask thought-provoking questions at the end of most posts to get people excited to engage in a conversation.  I joined the third Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign, participated in a few blogfests and attended Kristen Lamb’s blogging course.  I’m on Twitter and Facebook.  I do giveaways here and there.  Are there other things I could do to “up” the community quotient of the blog?

4.  Are you solving your reader’s problems?

Let me be frank.  I can barely solve my own problems, so I doubt if I will be able to solve yours.  If I had all the answers, I’d probably be a multi-published author bringing money in hand over fist right now.  If I had all the answers, my kids would behave perfectly at all times, my cakes would never sag in the middle, I’d weigh about 20 lbs less and my house would be featured in Architectural Digest. In the meantime, I hope that as I flounder, learn, flounder some more, and then learn some more, that my posts about that process are helpful to you too.  It’s not so much “misery loves company” as “company alleviates misery,” so let’s stick together.  Do my posts provide help or inspiration to you, and what do you think would make them more helpful?

Now for some totally useless statistics.  Last year I posted my top five most-visited posts and my top five favorites and thought it would be fun to do it again.  It’s interesting how in both years there was no overlap between the two.

Top Posts (post with greatest number of hits)

  1. 100 Random Things – every day I get at least one “random things to write about” search reference that brings someone to the blog.
  2. Osama bin Laden’s Death – No surprise here.  I got more than 800 hits the day the post went live.  Controversy sells.
  3. How I Got My Agent: Corey Schwartz – Go Corey! Not only is she a terrific writer, but she was the first brave soul to participate in this series.
  4. How to Write a Winning Query
  5. How I Got My Agent: Tara Lazar – Go Tara! Our own PiBoIdMo organizer and another fantastic writer.

Top Five Personal Favorites

  1. On Impermanence
  2. Here Piggy, Piggy
  3. Adam Rex Rocks the House
  4. Yes, I Do Believe in Miracles
  5. The Long and Winding Road

Last, but not least, I have a public service announcement.  Fellow picture book author Susanna Leonard Hill has started a wonderful new Friday feature called, Perfect Picture Book Friday.  In the same vein as Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, folks passionate about picture books will choose one and provide a short synopsis and a note on what they like about the book.  So go visit her to find some amazing picture books.  I will be participating myself starting next Friday.

Whether you comment on this post or not, THANKS FOR READING!  I appreciate each and every one of you.

Categories: Authors, Children's Books, Giveaway, Italy, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Social Media, Travel, Writer's Platform-Building Campaign, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Lynda Shoup is one of the nicest virtual friends I’ve had the pleasure to “meet” this past year.  We got to know each other last year during NaPiBoWriWee and caught up again last week for the 2011 version.  She recently bestowed upon me this award:

It came at a pretty ironic time because I have a terrible cold and am currently sporting sweatpants and a sweatshirt with my hair pulled back in a scrunchie.  Ordinarily I stay away from blogger awards just because I never have the time to “pass them on,” and I feel bad that by listing some, I skip over others that I also love.  However, this time the award really did boost my spirits so I figured it was time to join in.  The rules are to reveal 7 things about yourself that readers might not know and then to pass the award on to up to 15 bloggers whose blogs you enjoy.  So here goes.

7 Things You Might Not Know About Me (and that aren’t already listed on my 100 Random Things)

  1. I wish I would meditate every day.  I don’t know why I don’t.
  2. I will turn 40 later this month
  3. Surprisingly, I’m not upset about #2
  4. I’ve always fantasized about being an actress or a dancer (I have no talent at either)
  5. I once thought my car had been stolen, but really I had just forgotten where I parked it.
  6. I experience all five senses in my dreams – weird but true.
  7. I loved Charlotte’s Web so much as a child that I had a stuffed pig named Wilbur.  My mother sold it in a garage sale.  I’ve just barely forgiven her…

And now, onto some great blogs I think you will enjoy:

First up are three of my awesome critique partners who blog regularly.  Their blogs all have tons of great information!

  1. Alison Stevens
  2. Megan Bickel at The Write at Home Mom
  3. Christie Wild at Write Wild

Other virtual friends:

  1. Cheryl Reifsnyder at The Rich Writer
  2. Jean Reidy at A Totally Random Romp
  3. Ingrid Sundberg at Ingrid’s Notes
  4. Corey Schwartz at Thing 1 and Thing 2
  5. Julie Musil
  6. Catherine Johnson
  7. Katie Davis
  8. Nancy Hatch at Spirit Lights the Way

Eleven is probably enough for now, but I encourage you to check my blogroll for more ideas.  I read each and every one that is listed and enjoy them all.  Thanks again Linda!

Categories: Authors, NaPiBoWriWee, Social Media · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Here to kick off the 2011 series of How I Got My Agent for picture book writers is none other than Tara Lazar, the generous founder of PiBoIdMo (or Picture Book Idea Month for the uninitiated).  Tara started PiBoIdMo as alternative to NaNoWriMo for picture book writers, and the event has grown exponentially each year.  I participated myself in 2010 and came up with some ideas that I can’t wait to work on.  Her debut picture book, THE MONSTORE, which will be published by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster in 2013, was an idea Tara got during her first PiBoIdMo (It works people!).  Thanks for coming by, Tara.  I’m so thrilled to have you.

“Thanks to you too, Julie.  I’m glad to be here.”

How long had you been writing picture books before seeking an agent, and what made you decide it was time to look for one?

I didn’t decide it was time to look for an agent! My friend Corey Rosen Schwartz did!

I met Corey about three years ago, when I first began to write picture books. She has long been a champion of my work. She encouraged me to query agents with THE MONSTORE–she was convinced it would sell. She was right!

What kind of research did you do before submitting?

I had been researching agents for years, keeping tabs on those I thought would be a good match for my style of writing. There are so many agent interviews available online, as well as the agents themselves! They keep blogs, writing about what they are (and aren’t) looking for. I encourage other writers to follow agents on Twitter, read their blogs, and read interviews. Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents and Casey McCormick’s blogs are excellent resources for agent information.

It’s a tough market for picture books in general these days.  Was it difficult to find an agent who wanted to represent an author focusing solely on picture books? 

My connection with my agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, was like kismet. My friend Corey had won a critique with author Jean Reidy and didn’t have a current manuscript to send, so she sent mine! Jean then tweeted that she loved my manuscript, and Joan, who is friends with Jean (they are both represented by Erin Murphy), asked what she was reading. So Jean and Corey gave me a referral to Joan. While Joan was hooked with my picture books, she also loved the first chapter of my middle-grade novel. So I can’t say that I’m focused solely on picture books, but Joan did comment that she had been looking for a picture book author to represent.

I also had a nice connection with Kelly Sonnack at Andrea Brown. Although Kelly did not offer representation, she was very interested in THE MONSTORE. And kismet struck again when her client James Burks was chosen to illustrate it.

I think it’s essential for picture book authors to have several manuscripts ready-to-go before querying agents. One book is not going to result in representation. It’s just too tough a market.

I have heard the same thing from several agents – be ready to share more than one manuscript. Thanks for bringing that up!

The dreaded questions: How many queries?  How many rejections?

I did not query agents until THE MONSTORE. And then it was just Ammi-Joan and four other agents.

I was very cautious with submitting to editors, too. I was waiting until I was good enough. I felt that submitting too early was a mistake. I didn’t want to use up my chances with particular editors by sending them an early manuscript and then not being able to send it again once I had revised successfully. I had submitted about 15 times with 15 rejections, a few personal.

How did you know your agent was “the one?”

While we clicked immediately on the telephone, I don’t think you truly know your agent is “the one” until you begin working with them. And working with Joan is a joy. I feel lucky to have her. She is very encouraging and she helps me to refine manuscripts. She loves nearly everything I produce, which I think is rare. If there’s a manuscript she’s not certain will sell, I know she’s right and I move onto something else.

Has your writing process changed since signing with an agent?

When I have a new idea, I ask Joan about it first. Should I write it? It’s great to have her feedback before I waste my time on a sub-par concept. I send her first drafts to ask if I’m going in the right direction and if it’s worth revising, or if I should try a different angle. This kind of early feedback is something I always wanted from an agent. Although picture books are short, they don’t take a short time to write. The process with Joan ensures that I’m not working on something that has no potential.

Sounds like bliss…

We sometimes hear that picture book writers don’t really need an agent.  What do you think the advantages are of having an agent?

I think I just answered that question! In addition, I don’t want to take time away from my writing to focus on sales. When I was submitting directly to editors, I spent weeks researching which ones would be a good fit. Then I spent weeks writing cover letters. I researched similar titles, the editor’s other books, and the publisher’s lists. It was a long process. And I couldn’t seem to change gears easily from the creative side to the business side and back again. When I was submitting, that’s all I was doing. Having Joan means I can spend more time on writing.

You are the host of the popular Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) event in November.  One of your own PiBoIdMo ideas became the book that is now being published.  Do you think the PiBoIdMo process made a big difference in helping you get that “winning” idea?

Truth be told, I get ideas almost every day. But PiBoIdMo did get me in the habit of writing down those ideas, of seeking out the magic around us every day. One of my favorite quotes is from Roald Dahl: “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

The daily process of writing down ideas builds and becomes a habit. I think to be creative, you have to hone your creative sensibilities. You have to be creative every day. PiBoIdMo encourages the artist in us to be productive.

What’s up next/what are you working on now?

I am digging back into my middle grade novel. I just completed a new picture book manuscript that Joan loves, and I’m doing some revision on it. (I should note that Corey loves it, too. LOL!)

What advice would you give to picture book writers looking for agents today?

Be patient. Give yourself time to improve your craft. (I like Neil Gaiman’s story about THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. He came up with the concept years ago, but put it away until he was a better writer.) Take at least two years to write seriously before submitting. Join a critique group. A good one will honestly tell you if you’re ready to seek representation. Don’t query too early. Once an agent rejects a project, you can’t send it to them again (unless they specifically request a revision, which is rare). If you’ve been submitting the same manuscript with no interest, write something else. Move on. When you do query, be sure to have other projects ready to send. If an agent is interested, they will ask to see more work.

I have to say I love the advice of taking two years to write seriously before submitting.  I wish somebody had told me that when I was starting!  I could have avoided submitting projects that weren’t ready.

Last, but certainly not least: Johnny Depp or Ryan Reynolds?

Umm, Edward Norton. I think he’s one of the most talented actors working today. And I think he’s handsome, with a boyish charm.

Okay we agree to disagree. 🙂  Seriously though, thanks to Tara for this fabulous interview!  I hope you guys get as much out of it as I did.

If you are a picture book writer with an agent or an agent with picture book writer clients and would like to be featured in this series, please email me at jhedlund33 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Categories: Agents, Authors, Children's Books, How I Got My Agent, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Publishing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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I’m thrilled to have picture book author Corey Schwartz (HOP PLOP, 2006, THREE NINJA PIGS, 2012 and GOLDI ROCKS, tbd) here today to launch my new blog series, How I Got My Agent, (for PB writers).**  I “met” Corey through the blogosphere and have been fortunate enough to exchange work with her now and then.  She gave me some great feedback on one of my WIPs.  She is a very talented writer who is here to tell us the story of how she found her agent.

Take it away Corey!

Thanks, Julie.  So glad to be the inaugural interviewee for this series!

How long had you been writing picture books before seeking an agent, and what made you decide it was time to look for one?

My first agent pretty much fell into my lap. I had gotten one PB contract by being pulled from the slush at Walker (Hop Plop, 2006), and I wasn’t really looking for representation. I figured, “It’s just as hard to find an agent as it is to get an offer, so why bother?”   But then my parents went to some sort of family reunion and it turns out that a cousin’s son was dating an assistant at a big literary agency.  “Would she be willing to look at a manuscript?” my Mom asked. (My mom has the assertive genes in the family!)

So that is how I lucked out and found myself represented by someone with a great reputation.  But I quickly found out that not every agent is right for every author.  She was initially very enthusiastic.  We subbed out two PB manuscripts in the first year, but after a few close calls and no sales, it was clear she lost her passion for my work.  In the second year, we didn’t sub anything at all.  I realized it was not a good fit and we parted ways.  By then (end of 2008), things had changed.  More and more houses had closed to unsolicited submissions and at that point, I felt it was critical to have an agent.

What kind of research did you do before submitting?

I read Casey McCormick’s amazing Agent Spotlights.  I checked out agent blogs, followed a bunch of industry professionals on Twitter, and began going to conferences.  I networked as much as I could.

How long did it take from submission to contract? Any rejections?

I subbed a manuscript to agent “SB” in November of 2008. (I now refer to him in code because he uses Google Alerts and thinks I am stalking him).  He wrote back the same day!  He said that I clearly had talent as writer, but did I have anything “bigger”?  I didn’t.  But…  I wanted him.  (Okay, that does sound stalkerish!)   I loved his quick response time and his general attitude.  So, I waited for a “big idea”…

A month later, I got lucky again.  My son made a comment at dinner.  He told the Spanish speaking waitress, “I speak a little karate.”  I knew there had to be a story there!   Kids love karate.  I went home and researched what martial arts books were on the market.  Not many.  I thought it over for a few weeks. And then it hit me…THE THREE NINJA PIGS!   The three little pigs get fed up with the big bad wolf, so they go to ninja school!  I knew this was the kind of big concept that SB wanted.  I wrote it, tweaked it and sent it off to him.  Again, he responded the same day!  “It’s brilliant!  I have no doubt it will sell, but I don’t want to rep it.”

Okay, I had to move on.  By then it was early April.  I tried a small handful of other agents.  One, I had met at a conference.  Two or three others were referrals.

Kendra Marcus, founder of Book Stop Literary wrote back in early June, “I love the concept, but I think it still needs some work.  If you want to talk revisions, call me.”  I was scared to call.  But she had given me some specific feedback, so I revised and sent it back in July. She loved the changes and offered to rep me.

After your previous experience, how did you know Kendra was “the one?”

Okay, at that point, Kendra was the only agent who had my manuscript.  I would not say that I knew she was “the one.”  I think you can’t possibly know if an agent is right for you until you try working with them.   I like email.  She prefers the phone.  I am insecure and need lots of reassurances.  She is blunt and doesn’t sugarcoat her feedback.  But… Kendra LOVED my manuscript and was incredibly confident she could sell it.   That alone made it worth a try.  And in the year that I have worked with her, we have sold two fractured fairy tales.   So, I’d say we have been successful together.

It seems so many agents today are looking primarily for Middle Grade and YA. Was it difficult to find an agent who wanted to represent a “Picture Book” writer?

Yes.  I was surprised at how few options I had.  Some children’s lit agents will only rep PB authors if they illustrate as well.  Others won’t rep PB writers at all.   I understand the reasoning behind it (PBs are tough to sell and are not profitable), but it is still disheartening.  However, I do have a number of friends who have found representation. So, it is definitely possible to find an agent if you have a very strong manuscript.

It’s a tough market for picture books right now.  How much of a difference do you think it makes to have an agent?

I think having an agent makes a huge difference.  An agent gets you looked at. (Fast!)  Kendra sent THREE NINJA PIGS to two houses in August.  She also agreed to follow up at Walker where I had already sent it.  By October, we had two offers!   The other two houses where I had subbed on my own sent me form rejections the following spring!  (a full year after subbing)

What advice would you give to picture book writers looking for agents today?

Network, network, network!   Connections mean a lot in this industry.   An agent is not going to rep you just because you know one of her clients. BUT agents may take the time to give you comments (as opposed to a form rejection) if they have a personal connection to you.  Both “SB” and Kendra were referrals.  Both gave me specific feedback and the opportunity to submit to them again.  Those small “courtesies” can make all the difference.

What’s up next/what are you working on now?

After selling THE THREE NINJA PIGS to Putnam (2012), Kendra urged me to write another fractured fairy tale.  I collaborated with my friend, Beth Coulton, and we wrote GOLDI ROCKS AND THE THREE BEARS.   Once upon a musical time, three bears had a rock and roll band, but… they needed a lead singer!   This story also sold to Putnam.

Kendra’s advice now is to write a story that is NOT a fractured fairy tale.  But during PiBoIdMo, I got such a good idea for a new one, that she said “Go for it!”   (The title is “top secret” at the moment.)

You enjoy scuba diving in your spare time.  What was your best dive?

Much easier to think of my worst dive!  (That would be the one where I almost died!  Ha!)  Best dive?  Hmmm… I’ll go with the Orange Canyon off Grand Cayman. 

(Um, yeah. Dying is no good!)

Favorite book of 2010 (any genre)

I am not a big reader of dystopia, but I think I would have to say The Hunger Games.  I had to ask my husband to take the kids and leave the house, so I could read undisturbed!

Many, many thanks to Corey for sharing her story with us! I personally can’t wait to get my hands on THREE NINJA PIGS and GOLDI ROCKS when they come out (not to mention the double-top secret new title when it’s finished :-))

**If you are a picture book writer with an agent or an agent with picture book writer clients and would like to be featured in this series, please email me at jhedlund33 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Categories: Agents, Authors, Children's Books, How I Got My Agent, Picture Books, Publishing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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