The submissions process is often viewed as the most daunting part of a writer’s literary career! It is highly likely as a newbie author you will have spent months, or years laboring over your manuscript for it to be potentially critically reviewed and or rejected. Unfortunately, rejection often forms a large part of the literary submission process. That is why it could be viewed as fundamentally important to have a buffer/ safety net to rely on throughout this process! This is where the notion of the submission package comes from. ‘A submission package’ is a package which includes a selection of 2-3 manuscripts to be issued to a prospective agent for review. Below I’ve answered some of the general questions regarding the querying process and further information regarding the submission package which I hope you will find useful!
Children’s book submission package
What exactly is a children’s book submission package?? Normal picture book manuscripts tend to look the same as other manuscripts. Submissions are usually in Times new roman 12-point font, double spaced, with one-inch margins on all four sides. The average children’s book word count is approximately 450 -750 words in length. A Submission package includes three to four of these submissions/ manuscripts. It has been stated by experts in the field that it’s important to have more than one manuscript prepared and ready to submit to literary agents.
What does a typical submission package look like? Could a writer submit works from multiple genres? Regarding this question, once the work is of high quality then the different genres issue may be ignored. If the pieces have been peer reviewed and edited well, you can lead with whichever manuscript you wish. An agent will select which work he / she wants to focus on.
How many query letters do I need when Querying agents with picture books? This question is dependent on the literary agents and their individualized submission guidelines. It might be more concise to complete one query document referencing three manuscripts but again it is important check the guidelines. It is also highly advisable to keep track of the agents you have contacted and what work was sent to them throughout the submissions process. I have provided further general information regarding the querying process below.
Having a submission package prepared could be viewed as a dynamic unique approach to querying. If an Agent loves your project he/ she will ask to see what other work you’ve got up your sleeve! If you’ve other back up polished manuscripts to rely on, it looks both professional and impressive. Having a submission package puts you in strong position to secure literary representation. It highlights to agents that you can continuously provide high quality work. Furthermore, it shows that your writing / illustrative career is progressive and potentially lucrative as you continue to independently build your portfolio of work. To assist you with issuing your literary package, I’ve outlined the general query letter format / process below, and a few points to help you with the submissions process generally.
Query letter and submissions process
One of the first questions we wonder as authors is what exactly are agents / editors / publishers looking for? The answer is each body have their own preferences and niche target market to cater for. Traditionally authors usually source a literary agent through a process called querying. ‘Querying’ involves sending a cover letter to solicit an agent’s interest. The main purpose of the query letter is to get an agent to read your work. This can be a difficult concept for authors to wrap their head around, as they must think of their work as a sellable item. Therefore, at a bare minimum you should have at least one published work completed. It may be very tempting to send an excerpt out to agents without having the finished manuscript complete. However, if the agent reverts to you, and finds out your manuscript is unfinished it can lead to a very unsavory situation. The agent you have sourced may lose interest in your work or lose faith in your ability to meet imposed deadlines. Similarly, the rushed work that will be produced may not be of the highest quality. As we are dealing with children’s books with a shorter word count it may be even more advisable to have a submission package of 2-3 manuscripts available to choose from. When issuing your submission package you should mention the four main points in your one page, single spaced 200–450-word query letter.
Housekeeping –Include a note regarding the Books genre/ category, word count, and title.
Synopsis and Hook – Provide a description of story and highlight the exciting part that makes it stand out in relation to other children’s books. This is the most critical part of the querying process and is usually approximately 150-300 words.
Bio note –The bio note should outline your background and some general points about yourself.
Closing point – Thank the agent for their time and sign off in the usual fashion.
Overall, we can see from this that having a submissions package might increase your chances of securing a literary agent to promulgate your work into the Literary world. It is also important to be true to yourself throughout the submissions process. You will be working with an agent / editor for many years. Showing your personality in your query letter helps to cement a relationship with your literary representative and ensure you are a good match! Happy hunting, and best of luck with your submission.
Author: Jessica McCarthy