What can I do about my picture book manuscript that my agent isn’t interested in marketing?

Posted on May 26, 2009


I wrote a picture book, but my agent isn’t interested in it. I would like to submit it on my own but I don’t know how to handle the fact that I’m agented. My agent represents “my fiction” which includes this and any other piece of fiction. Should I tell publishers that I’m agented but that my agent declined to market the book? What can I do about my picture book manuscript that my agent isn’t interested in marketing?

As it stands right now, since your agent represents your “fiction”, that includes your picture book manuscript. Technically, you aren’t free to submit it to publishers on your own, even though it has been shelved. Ask the agent for an addendum to the contract that excludes the picture book and names it by name. If your agent is not forthcoming, make up the addendum yourself, sign it and send it to the agent. If your agent has a problem with you submitting the manuscript to publishers, perhaps you can compromise by sending the manuscript to children’s magazines. No matter what, you need to discuss with your agent what to do about your “fiction” that he chooses not to represent.

Lots of children’s book publishers look at unagented submissions. However I don’t think it’s a good idea to inform the editor that your agent has declined to market the manuscript you are submitting. It will only add unnecessary confusion to your submission. It’s helpful if you’re a member of SCBWI. They put out calls for submissions from publishers on a regular basis, on the discussion boards and in the bi-monthly Bulletin. They have an encyclopedia’s worth of information on their web site. Claiming membership in your cover letter or resume will help your manuscript get picked out of the slush pile and actually read.

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