Yummy Mummy Ilona from Thornhill, ON asks:
I have been a stay-at-home Mom for just over a year, and have found the luxury of time to write a few children's stories that my boys love to read over and over again. How do I go about getting my rough drafts published? I am aware that my stories may be very raw, and I am looking for someone to assist me.
In many ways, there has never been a better time to be a writer of books for children. Thanks to works like Harry Potter, Eragon, Twilight and others, the market for young adult readers has exploded, and their little brothers and sisters aren’t lacking for reading material either. Everyone seems to be writing picture books these days: Madonna, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jay Leno, Alex Rodriguez… the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, this is both a blessing and a curse if you happen to be an average Yummy Mummy (as if there IS such a thing!) looking to get her work published!
The marketplace is crowded with dozens upon dozens of books, and the bigger the name of the author, the more shelf space the books command. This makes it a challenge for a newcomer to break in. The first piece of advice I’d offer would be to try to find an agent. Check the internet for literary agents in your area that handle or specialize in children’s books. Call and find out what their process is for taking on new clients. A good agent will help you do several things—evaluate and hone your proposal, shop it around to publishers that might be interested, and secure the best deal for your work.
To increase your chances of having an agent take you on, do a bit of research first. Is your book different or unique in any way? It should be! Who do you think your ideal reader is? Visit your local bookstore and try to figure out where the book might sit on the shelf. All of this legwork can help you ensure that your book has the best chance of success.
If you chose to go it alone, and not look for an agent, make sure to do your homework on the publishers to whom you are submitting. Do not send out a blanket submission to every name that pops up on Google. Make sure that the house you're sending to actually publishes the type of book that your submitting.
And finally, regardless of how you proceed, be patient! Most publishers can take as long as six months to reply to unsolicited manuscripts.