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!)

on March 23, 2015

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, 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!!



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

  1. Hip, hip, hooray for you, Kim! Thank you for sharing your journey. All the best.
    ~Suzy Leopold

  2. So happy for you! Cheers to a wonderful career!

  3. bevbaird says:

    Congratulations! Inspiring post!

  4. Tina Cho says:

    Congratulations, and thanks for sharing your story!

  5. Juliana Lee says:

    I always love a good ‘how I got my agent’ story! Can I ask, how did you break the news that you were going with someone else, to the first agent who was interested in your work?

    • Well, when she made the offer, I told her I felt the right and appropriate thing to do was to contact these other agents to alert them of the offer, and she agreed… So I don’t think she was surprised when I told her I was going with another agent. She was SO nice about it and wished me well. I totally would have gone with her but there was just something about Mary… (Isn’t that a movie?) 😉

  6. Kaye Baillie says:

    You are so awesome! This is a great story and I feel your excitement!!

  7. Such fabulous news, Kim! I’m so thrilled for you! And I can’t wait to get a signed copy of that book which I know is going to sell 🙂

  8. Thanks, Susanna! Your site and all of your offerings were the first KidLit-ish resources that I followed! I am so thankful for you and other awesome authors out there who share their experience and expertise. And your Making Picture Book Magic course really IS the backbone of my Gabriella story, so thank you!!!

  9. MaDonna says:

    I love reading stories like this! Thanks for sharing and congrats to you!

  10. Congratulations, Kim! All the best to you! 🙂

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