Should I send five manuscripts to an agent?

Posted on November 27, 2007


While I was away last summer I wrote five picture book manuscripts. Now that I have made some revisions, I think they are ready to send out. Would it be better to send all five to a literary agent? Or should I submit one at a time?

Wow, your summer was way more productive than mine!

The first question you should ask yourself is: do I really need an agent? In his article, Agents for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Harold Underdown provides an excellent analysis of the agent question for children’s writers. He says:

If you will only be happy if your first book is published by a famous publisher such as HarperCollins or Random House or Simon & Schuster, then you need an agent or the ability to network and find ways to meet or contact editors at those houses. Otherwise, you need to look to smaller publishers and plan to get an agent later, if ever.

Whether you submit to agents or editors, most prefer that you submit one manuscript at a time, unless their guidelines say otherwise. I have seen a few agent and/or publisher listings that say you can submit “up to 3-5 picture book manuscripts” in one submission.

Since you have five stories, I think it’s a good idea to submit to both agents and editors at the same time. Submit some of the stories to agents and some to publishers. The submission process is long and tedious, so you need to make your submissions process as productive as possible.

You might also find my article helpful, The Elephant in the Room: Marketing Your Children’s Manuscript.

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