Getting an agent is so different for every author. For me, it was all about research, preparation, opportunity and timing.
My background is in newspaper reporting, so the first step for me was really fun: Research! This book helped me get up to speed quickly…
Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market is overflowing with helpful information. In it, you’ll find a list of agents and their “wish lists,” as well as anecdotes on the querying process. I found a query template in this book that I liked, then personalized it.
While reading the book, I got the sense that knowing the market is important. Because the book I wanted to pitch wasn’t fiction, I completed a market analysis for it. Some might abhor such a task, but I thought it was a blast.
Next, using the list in the book, I created a spreadsheet of agents I wanted to pitch. Over a period of three months, I pitched 30 agents, 10 at a time. While I was waiting for responses (which never came), I kept moving…
In my industry research, a word kept popping up… platform. What the heck is platform? I hadn’t the slightest, so I bought a book about that, too…
I read Create Your Writer Platform by Chuck Sambuchino and highlighted all of the things that I thought I would enjoy doing. I found a lovely website template on squarespace and built out a page at www.anitraroweschulte.com.
On my site, I included a bio, among other things, and started a blog. This isn’t for everyone, but it has been a great fit for me. I write about being the mom of a child with special needs (one of my books includes a main character based on my daughter Elsa), interview authors I love, and review books that we enjoy as a family. Fun all around!
Social media presence was recommended in the platform book, too. Twitter is my fave, so I started amping up my presence there and expanding my tribe.
Conferences looked like an important piece to the publishing puzzle, so I signed up for a Writing Day Workshop in Kansas City.
I won’t bury the lead: This is where I found my agent, Stephanie Hansen of Metamorphosis Literary Agency. I signed up for a one-on-one pitch session with Stephanie and so enjoyed our chat.
Was I nervous? OMG, of course! But right away I felt something important… fit. She invited me to send my query and manuscript. My materials were ready, so I was able to move quickly on this part. I sent things off, said a million prayers, and about a month later, Stephanie offered representation. I was elated!
Timing is the magic bit. But as writers, we can control our work and how we choose to present ourselves. This way, when the right fit presents itself, we’re ready!
So my advice is this…
Write a story that stirs your soul… a story that a librarian, teacher or parent will want to put into a child’s hands.
Get your query pitch perfect. Have your critique group review it, and re-review it. Make it professional, but show personality, too.
Make your platform robust and authentic. There’s no fast way to do it. Just plug away, little by little.
Put yourself out their with positivity and passion – it will show, and shine!
Children’s author Anitra Rowe Schulte is represented by Stephanie Hansen of Metamorphosis Literary Agency. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and 12x12. Anitra is the creator of the Holiday Picture Book Drive, which connects Chicago kids with new picture books. She also is co-facilitator of Masterpiece Moms, a faith-based group for moms of kids with special needs.