Traditionally publishing a picture book after self publishing 2 MG novels

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  1. #1

    Traditionally publishing a picture book after self publishing 2 MG novels

    Not too long ago, maybe a little over a year or two ago, I wrote a picture book that I want to have traditionally published. I have been very slow about submitting it to agents, though. I may have submitted it to about ten or so, but probably a little less. They all have rejected it (which I know to expect from them), but they were not harsh rejections. Many have said that they liked it. One has even encouraged me to keep sending it out. A few have said that the picture book market is very tough right now. That was months ago, but it could still be like that now.
    The reasons I wanted to try traditionally publishing a picture book was to see if it could help with the two self-published middle grade novels I have now (even though the audiences are completely different), gain some more legitimacy, and maybe get more well known. It was only recently that I discovered that indie middle grade books are one of the hardest books to sell. One article said that part of the reason is that the MG children usually look for books in bookstores. Self-published books usually can't be stocked in bookstores, except for maybe very small independent ones.
    There were times I've tried promotional or review services for my books and the companies had to give me refunds since no one would request them. I don't know if it was the target audience or the fact that the stories were self-published. I chose the self-publishing route over the commercial one because I wanted to maintain creative control. I was especially picky about what I wanted the covers to look like. And most people liked the cover of the first book. Both covers were done by professional illustrators I've hired. And I submitted both stories to a preliminary review service before publishing them.
    But back to the part about trying to get an unrelated picture book published. I know that if it gets accepted by an agent and publisher, I will have to give up all creative control. I know that I also wouldn't get to leave notes for the picture book illustrator. Now for the reasons I gave about why I want to get a picture book traditionally published, what advice would you have for what to expect if a publisher accepts the manuscript at some point?

  2. #2
    I don't know how things are for picture books, but for novels, I really wouldn't characterize the relationship with publishers as "giving up all creative control". I've never worked with a publisher who didn't want my input on almost every aspect of the project, including cover design. I guess I didn't have "control", exactly, but I certainly feel like I had influence.

    Do you have reason to believe things are much harsher in the picture-book world?

  3. #3
    I don't know. I was just remembering what the agents told me.

  4. #4
    Many have said that they liked it. One has even encouraged me to keep sending it out.
    I really hate to tell you this, but in general, unless an agent/editor tells you to make some suggested changes and resubmit, or offers specific suggestions as to making it more marketable, the only thing you can take from a rejection is, "No."

    The suggestions they you keep submitting, or that they liked it, but that the market isn't there, are boiler-plate rejections meant to keep you from becoming the one rejecting the work's new best friend—or worse yet, their enemy, Every editor has horror stories of the guy who showed up screaming that they were going to kill the one too dumb to see the beauty in their writing, or the one who sent letter after letter, trying to argue the editor into liking the work.

    In fact, Benard's Rejection illustrates why they try to make the rejection seem reluctant. And here, is the single nicest rejection ever written.

    Bear in mind there are many reasons for a rejection. And the publisher doesn't usually give the real reason, or tell you how to fix what they viewed as a problem because they haven't the time, and aren't paid to be a writing teacher. That makes it frustrating for us, of course. So in the end, all we can do is work to become the best at what we do and keep on trying.

  5. #5
    And the publisher doesn't usually give the real reason, or tell you how to fix what they viewed as a problem because they haven't the time, and aren't paid to be a writing teacher. That makes it frustrating for us, of course. So in the end, all we can do is work to become the best at what we do and keep on trying.
    -Jay Greenstein

    Wow, I didn't know real reasons weren't always given.

  6. #6
    Judging by the lack of responses, I'm guessing we don't have too many members with experience in this area, but I hope you report back, sunanyaprasad, and let us know how things go for you!

    (It looks like you got some pretty good exposure for your MG books - 121 Amazon reviews for a self-published book is impressive! If you can translate that zeal to your search for an agent/publisher, I think you'll have lots of interesting experiences to share with us.)

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