Aaaaand Press ‘Send’…

So, in the last couple of weeks, after putting it away for a while, I have taken out my picture book (which you may remember from my post Lightning Bolts and Dragons). I have revised it, changed the character name a couple of times, tweaked it and polished it. I have bought a copy of the Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2010 and carefully gone through all of the agents and publishers. And this morning I submitted my manuscript. Yikes.

I have done my homework. I highlighted agents and publishers who took on unsolicited picture books and looked at their lists. I followed their advice. I chose 5 agents to submit to first, and I am grouping agents together for further batches of submissions. I put together a CV, a covering letter and two versions of the manuscript. I looked at my documents again and again to make sure they were as good as they could get – and after I sent them I thought of about a million changes I should have made. Does everyone get this feeling?

I went through a long debate with myself, friends and family as to whether I should submit first to agents or publishers. In the end my reasoning was that if I submit first to publishers who then turn it down, there was a slightly greater chance that if they were then presented with it again from an agent it might stand against me (Because, of course, they will remember it however many months down the line. Bear with me, I had to make aย choice somehow). Whereas if agents turn it down, they will never know if I then go to publishers with it, except on some prestigious awards night when I am presented with my nth award and they are sitting kicking themselves for turning it down (ok, ok, I’m awake now). So I went with the agent route. And I’ve first chosen the agents who accept unsolicited picture books from first time authors by email – 5 in total on my list. I wrote my letter to each of them, checking for spelling mistakes. I don’t think there were any… And then I pressed ‘Send’. This was the most nerve-wracking, sickening moment I’ve felt since asking people for honest opinions on the book.

I’ve had one answer already, from an agency who are taking on “very few” new picture book authors at the minute but wished me the best of luck. Fair enough. At least I’m only waiting for 4 responses now. But please, all readers, spare a thought for my poor family. I am not renowned for my patience, and as well as listening to me moan about the non-appearance of a baby who isn’t due for another 2 weeks, they now have to put up with me checking the post, email, phone, etc for responses from agencies which may take 8 weeks. I’m not sure who will go round the bend first…

All sympathy comments and stories welcome!

12 thoughts on “Aaaaand Press ‘Send’…”

  1. Ooh! Well done you! Scary isn’t it? And, yes, I think most people who press the send button immediately want it back for another fiddle! Good luck, I have no idea how to stay calm and patient…not my forte either!

  2. Doh why I don’t know but a white block always appears mid column when I’m reading blogs on my phone and I can’t shift it. So I haven’t been able to read last paragraph. However I’m very happy for you that even battling with 2yrolds, a husband and a pending birth you’ve written and submitted a story. Bravo! Its a lovely story and can quite comfortably share shelf space with other pic books so I hope it gets picked up.

  3. Thank you very much for that. Any agents reading, take note! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Not sure about battling with husband; he has his off days but generally he’s not bad…

  4. Go Rebecca!! Remember that JK Rowling sent out many, many submissions before success. Now it’s gone try to put it out of your mind and disconnect yourself from the outcome.

    Keep writing – and where on earth is that baby girl!!!

  5. That’s a very good question, which I have been asking her myself.

    I’m going to keep going, I have more to send out to and I have other things to be working on. Thanks for the comment!

  6. I *invariably* hit send and spot something new as the email is actually going!

    The problem is that I don’t think there is such a thing as complete perfection, and in ordinary letters we’re ok with that. But, in a submission, so much is at stake that we blow tiny issues out of all proportion.

    Still, take comfort from the fact that most agents will ignore a tiny mistake or two, so long as you don’t address them as “Dear Agent”. They seem a little sensitive about that, for some reason…;)

    Well done on the big leap, and we’re waiting with bated breath too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. A report from the coalface: living with a Pre-published writer.

    Atmosphere is fraught. Rebecca seems to have developed some nervous twitch in response to the dinging noise of her email system. I can report a definite pattern to this response:

    1. On hearing a ding, there is a noticeable widening of the eyes, followed by a straightening of the face. This will often occur simultaneously with an audible gulp. It should be noted that, occasionally, this ding may actually emanate from the Microwave or a child’s toy. Unperturbed, our intrepid writer will usually complete the following pattern nevertheless.

    2. This part is remarkable to witness. Our writer, fearless despite her 38 weeks of pregnancy, will leap in one sudden graceful (actually, not entirely graceful) movement from her cross-legged position on the sofa, into an Action Man-esque pose. This is a wonder of nature, reminding the onlooker of John Wayne style readiness for battle. The slight bend in the knee; the arms – ready at her sides; the glint in the eye; the ongoing whistle as a sprig of weed tumbles by (I may have imagined this part – you get the picture).

    3. My wife prowls. Almost literally. I dive for cover assuming she has spotted a cheetah under the dining table (chivalry not being my strong point).

    4. This is the weird part. It would seem our writer has employed some ancient incantation to call out the publishing Gods. I am no expert in Wizardry, but it goes along the lines of: “It can’t be it might be but what if they when did they I can’t look I must look what if typo aaaggghh [I duck again behind the sofa at this point] get a grip woman what’s the worst APOSTROPHE AAAGGH calm calm calm and breathe…”.

    5. Approaching the laptop visibly shaken, she will slowly, carefully, open up her emails. I have found it best to have left the room (child swinging from my arms in distress) before the final part of the sequence…

    6. NO I DON’T WANT TO DO A BLOODY SURVEY!!!!!!

    This will often mark the end of the reaction. Though sometimes I can report a further, seemingly unconnected series of facial and bodily contortions as our writer’s undeniably expanded stomach seems to take on a life of its own. She will scream. Teeth will be gritted. Breathing becomes erratic. It’s a beautiful sight.

    This is the end of my report. My observations of the subject continue. It is wonderful to see someone so passionate about what they do and so full of expectation. You deserve every success my gorgeous wife. Love you ๐Ÿ˜‰ xxx

  8. “Dear Agent.” I knew I did something wrong. (only joking!)

    I just have to say a huge thank you to you, and everyone else who has commented on the post. I am always amazed at the support and good wishes I get off people and I think you’re all wonderful!

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