2018 is coming to a close. Soon I’ll begin my year-end reflections on the year’s events in general and particularly my progress as an aspiring children’s author. This year, identifying my biggest milestone will be a no-brainer: in October, I signed with children’s literary agent Jordan Hamessley at New Leaf Literary!
Below is a Q&A I shared with friends and family members to help explain why having an agent matters and what’s next for my writing career.
Woohoo! What does this mean?
Signing with an agent greatly increases my chances of getting published. Most publishing houses (including “the big 5”) will not read manuscript submissions from unagented authors.
Was it hard to find an agent?
Definitely. It took years of learning, practice, and revision — not to mention 42 rejections — before my manuscripts were strong enough to land me the right agent. I took inspiration from one of my story subjects — a women’s sports icon and paragon of determination — in summoning the commitment to keep pushing toward my goal.
When can I buy your books?
It will still be several years or more! Getting an agent is not a guarantee that a publishing house will buy any of my manuscripts. If/once they do, it still takes a long time from acquisition to publication, with steps like revisions and illustrations along the way.
Speaking of illustrations, do you have an illustrator yet?
Nope. Authors do not choose their illustrator. The art director and other members of the publishing house team does this. In most cases the author and illustrator never even meet before a book comes out!
My agent and I have a plan for which manuscript she will submit to publishers first. We’ll see what happens from there. The publishing industry requires patience.
What are your children’s books about?
So far, most of my manuscripts are biographies of women in sports and science. These women were either trailblazers in their fields or figures whose contributions went unrecognized because of sexism. I also write fiction, but I expect the majority of my books to be true stories about people and groups who fought to change society’s rules and expectations.