“Ask an Editor” is a forum wherein SCBWI members submit questions that are answered as part of our quarterly Kite Tales blog.
Dear Editor – I’ve been working on my middle-grade book for years with my critique group and think it’s finally ready to send out into the world. What’s the best way to find an agent?
—Susan, Los Angeles
Dear Susan – Finishing your manuscript is quite an accomplishment. Kudos! Since you’re looking for an agent, that must mean you’re seeking traditional publication.
“While an agent isn’t necessary to submit a manuscript to an editor, many publishers accept only solicited material represented by an agent.” (SCBWI’s The Book: Essential Guide to Publishing for Children, 2018, page 9) This annual reference book provides information on how to submit as well as including a directory on where to submit.
Another reliable source is the annual Writer’s Digest Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market which provides similar information.
Conferences are another way to reach agents. Sometimes agents who aren’t open to submissions will make exceptions for a specified period after the conference. SCBWI International puts on two annual conferences: the summer conference in Los Angeles and the winter conference in New York.
The LA region hosts Writer’s Day (March) and Working Writer’s Retreat (September). Both are attended by agents, editors, or publishers. The events feature speakers, some one-on-one contact with the faculty, and time to meet fellow children’s writers and illustrators. For information on past years, visit Kite Tales, categories “Writer’s Day” and “Writers’ Retreat.”
WORD OF MOUTH
We are your tribe. Talk to others at events. Ask writers or illustrators with agents how they did it. SCBWI’s Litmingles are gatherings to help promote contact between members and meet others who share your interests.
The road to publication is a journey. Take your time and submit only your best work.
To ask a question which may be answered in an upcoming Kite Tales, please follow this link and fill in the form. You must be logged in to your SCBWI account to access this feature.
Answers by Christine Van Zandt, professional freelance editor and owner of Write for Success Editing Services.
Christine Van Zandt, www.ChristineVanZandt.com said:
Hello Elaine – The sources listed in the article work for the project you mention. There are two big SCBWI conferences each year. The one in LA is early August. You can sign up now. Other than learning about the industry, mingling, and listening to agents and editors, you can also add on an option have a selection of your book reviewed by an industry professional. This personal feedback can be very helpful. In addition to the three-day conference, you can attend a fourth day of workshops/intensives to delve deeper into the crafts of writing and illustration. Attending a conference will give you a wealth of information that you can apply to your project. If you’re not in a workshop group, this is the place to find one. Feedback from others is invaluable.
If your project is MG or YA, consider YALLWEST (in May) as another option, https://www.yallwest.com/.
Elaine Sultana said:
Dear Editor, I am just about ready to go to press with a non fiction book. It comprises about 200 cartoons from the New Testament with some background about my earlier life. What is the best way to find an agent?