Adventures in Literary Representation

UPDATE: It is now 52 queries, and a 3RD agent has requested the story! At this rate, there will be a bidding war, lol.

For the past 30 days, I have been emailing queries to literary agents (see some fun stats at the end). Having completed my picture book DREAMY PIES IN THE SKY, I felt it was time to get it out to agents. I had no idea that query writing was such a science! There are entire blogs and forums devoted to it, but they really helped me!

I have had, I believe, above-average success so far (at least for a newbie).
To date:
43 queries sent
11 rejections
2 story requests from very high-caliber agents.

I had a next-day request from Ms. W. in the midwest. She had worked in publishing for several years in New York and London. Alas, she responded it was “a great story” but after “a tough decision” felt that she “just didn’t fall in love enough with this.” Understandable, and I took the close call as an impetus to keep moving forward.

Now the story is in the hands of yet another Ms. W. in New York City, who may have even more impressive credentials (former children’s book editor at Random House). She requested the story two weeks after my query.

Of course, these events have gotten me very excited to say the least. I really do feel that I am on the verge of representation and that the book will be published someday.

But…..I had a rejection today from Ms. C., an agent in Greenwich Village. In her words:

I don’t feel the story can compete with other new picture books. Most of these
stories feature identifiable main characters trying to get out of trouble in
humorous ways.

I happen to agree, in that my story is not what I would consider a “mainstream” picture book. It’s a PB about a pie factory in the inner city. It features many different characters, but the factory and its pie smells are the “main” character, the hub of the neighborhood. I know kids love superhero kids, talking animals who travel the globe, etc. but there’s a market for other quality stuff too.

Ms. C. went on to tell me that it would be difficult for me to break in, since unpublished authors do not have the input of publishers’ sales reps.

So at this point I am awaiting Ms. W’s response, and working on other picture books with, yes, “identifiable main characters.”

Oh by the way, Ms. C. completely shot down my follow-up idea of a boy who wishes very hard for snowfall and how he and his friends deal with the aftermath: a cornflake storm. I thought this boy was a VERY identifiable character. What boy doesn’t wish for lots of snow? And wow, can you imagine his shock when he wakes up to…cornflakes!

So if anyone has THE foolproof marketable idea, please let me know ASAP!

Now some fun stuff, these are actual stats I pulled off a blog (posted 11-21-09) from an assistant who reads/responds to queries sent to the Rappaport Agency.
Slim pickings indeed!

Queries read: 5,468
Partials requested: 139
Fulls requested: 25
Fulls sent to Jenny: 9
Authors Jenny offered to: 5 (1 on a full I sent, 2 on partials, 2 on queries — Jenny read partials and fulls of these)*
Authors who got representation elsewhere (that I know of!): 5 (one of those had 2 mss I requested fulls of and sent to Jenny)
Notes people have sent back (kind and otherwise): 600

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