Kid Lit Dish

Kim's Magical Journey Into the World of Children's Picture Books

It Started With an Offer… (a.k.a. How I Got My Agent!)

velveteenBy now, some of you know that I just signed with an agent. Yes, I’ve been sitting on this news for a while (just waiting until everything was in “ink” before announcing it worldwide because I’m rather superstitious!), but I have since pulled myself off of my roof and am in a near-meditative state once again.

However, I wanted to share how this all happened because I’ve always been so motivated and inspired when reading all of the different “How I Got My Agent” posts in the blogosphere; so my hope is to also motivate and inspire. Anyway, here goes…

As many of you know, I’ve been at this kid lit writing/illustrating thing for a while. (You can see I’ve had this blog for almost three years, but I’ve actually been a “wanna-be” for decades. I remember buying my first Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market back in the ’90’s.) I’ve written several things over the years, but it wasn’t until my son was about seven that the ideas really began to take shape. That, coupled with a desperate need for a career change led me to finally take the plunge. That was in 2012, and it’s when I joined SCBWI and started mingling with all of the fantastic kid lit writers and illustrators out there… and interacting with resources galore (such as KidLit411, Julie Hedlund’s 12×12, author Tara Lazar and her PiBoIdMo challenge, author Susanna Leonard Hill’s awesome web site, Will Terry’s and Jake Parker’s School of Visual Storytelling… just to name a few!)

Anyway, fast forward to 2014, when I finally had a version of a manuscript that everyone seemed to like. It was “vetted” by professionals in the industry– former children’s book editor Deborah Halverson (of DearEditor.com), published children’s authors (and colleagues/friends) Jo Kittinger and Linda Lodding… as well as countless other writers, illustrators, and my wonderful and supportive critique group (shout out to Shanda, Colleen, Tosha, Christi, Vaughan, Shannon, and Bonnie!)

So this book was ready. Supposedly. I sent it out to about fifteen agents back then, and actually had a few interested. A couple of big name agents told me that they really liked it, but they either didn’t have the time to take on another client or it was too competitive to another one of their authors. I had one who was very interested, but really wanted me to have a finished illustration portfolio before she’d take me on. Others wanted to see other polished works. So what did I do? I sat on it. I worked on other manuscripts. I drew more in an effort to develop a stronger portfolio. I took illustration courses from SVS and started an illustration mentorship with Caldecott winner E.B. Lewis (and as hard as this last continues to be each and every week, I have to say it has been SO worth it).

Fast forward again another year. Last month, I saw author/illustrator Debbi Ridpath Ohi’s tweet about her updated list of agents on Twitter. I say this somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but for “fun” I thought I’d send out a few more queries since it had been almost a year and I had since developed two or three more manuscripts that I felt were almost as polished. (For those of you who don’t know, most agents typically like to see a body of work; they don’t want to represent a one-hit-wonder.)

Well, after sending out several queries, I got a “hit” right away. Meaning I received an email reply about five minutes after I queried. After a lengthy conversation through email, this agent wanted to set up a phone call. Say what??!! Was this “the call” I had heard so much about? By the way, this person did not end up becoming my agent. Yes, she did make me an offer, and, yes, I REALLY liked her a lot. And I WAS ready to sign with her. But I was cautioned by industry folks to follow protocol and send out “offer of representation” letters to others I had queried… to “give them a chance” to also make an offer.

Long story longer, that’s how it happened. I actually received several replies–three of those agents that responded to my “offer of rep” email wanted to see more of my work. And ONE of those agents was Mary Cummings, and after a lengthy conversation in which she pretty much told me her marketing plan (which got me so excited because in that plan were some of my dream publishers!), and after hearing her very experienced voice of both reason AND enthusiasm, I just couldn’t NOT work with her.

So, it is with great excitement and anticipation that I announce that it’s official: I’ve signed with Mary Cummings of Betsy Amster Literary! Woot woot!

Bottom line (and we hear and read this all the time): Hone your craft. Get critiqued. Don’t give up. Keep plugging away. These things really DO make things happen!

NOW comes the really hard part… sell the book!!

 

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Climb Every Mountain

climbOkay, if you’re wondering about the title of this post, it’s only because I have that particular song from Sound of Music (one of my favorite movies EVER) running through my head today.  It’s not without good reason. I’m very close to sharing some good news (I can’t today– sorry) and my husband reminded me last night that I’ve been at this Kid Lit writing/drawing adventure for a few years now. He was posing this as a “lesson” for our 11-year-old… on how “Mama never gave up” and “You can learn a lot from this…” That kind of thing.

And this coincides with a recent Facebook post from a fellow writer-ly friend–it may have been a quote from some long-ago dreamer/writer. It goes something like this:

If you’re on the right path, you’ll never stray from it.

Friends, I HAVE been on many paths in my life. I’ve strayed–oh how I’ve strayed! But I’ve always been successful–mildly to wildly–on just about every path I’ve chosen (or has chosen me).Yet still I would stray at some point on each of them and and off I would go tackling a new one.

I say this now because I am struck by how I have not… for even one millisecond… ever thought about doing anything else, once I commited to doing THIS. Not one millionth of a millisecond. I felt that when I first started on it. And I feel it even moreso today. I was born to do what I’m doing right now. And when I’m old and gray(er), I’ll STILL be doing it. I have no doubt.

So I would encourage all of you–if you do not love, and I mean really LOVE, what you do… find what it is that YOU were meant for in this life. We only have one life (or so I’m told… I’m not entirely convinced). Enjoy it. Savor it. Don’t waste one precious millisecond of it veering off other paths in the name of fortune or glory, or even–dare I say it– survival. You may have to work your passion while working other jobs. That’s okay. It will work out.

And once you find it, don’t ever leave.

(Don’t worry. You won’t want to.)

From Desiderata:

… And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

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Design Of The Picture Book

Welcome to Design of the Picture Book! I'm Carter Higgins, and I'm a writer and librarian for kids. I spent a spectacular stint as the Children's Book Editor at <a href="http://www.designmom.com/">Design Mom</a> which I loved! You can find my column <a href="http://www.designmom.com/category/childrens-lit/">here</a>.<br /> I'm a K-6 librarian, a former-ish graphic designer, an SCBWI member, and a huge fan of words and pictures.<br /> Represented by <a href="http://www.rpcontent.com/">Rubin Pfeffer of Rubin Pfeffer Content, LLC</a>.

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