Posted by: Natalie | February 13, 2010

Agent Hunting

So, how exactly did I decide on who to post yesterday’s submissions to? It wasn’t easy – to start with!

In November I started looking at how to get published. I began, naively, using the internet. Bad idea! The place is flooded with information, but never the information you need! I quickly got overwhelmed, panicked and pretty much curled up in a ball sobbing! My head hurt.

My lovely Cie then came to the rescue. Her editing knowledge and the world of words was very reassuring. She pointed me in the direction of “The Children’s Writers’ and Artists’ Year Book 2010”. A glorious (inexpensive), green shining directory of everything you need to know to begin with. It details publishers for writing and illustrating along with agents. But it gets better! It details not only their contact info (necessary as websites tend to hide that from you) but the specifics they specialise in! Joy! All in one place! Who says the internet is the way forward for everything?!

So, after some further advice from a published illustrator, I settled on the idea of needing an agent. Yes they take 10-15%, but they know the system, they can bypass the dreaded ‘slush’ pile and, most importantly – they want to make money! Their aim is to make a decent sized 10-15%, so not only can they weave their magic through all the legal waffle us creative types tend not to understand, but they are looking to get you the best possible deal for your work – what’s good for you is good for them! So, as I have an extremely limited understanding of the financial and legal worlds, I followed the agent path.

I ran through the chapter listing agents and called each one – this is invaluable. As much as their submission requirements tend to be similar, it’s well worth actually talking to another human being. Obviously, research their websites, use their email if you prefer, but I like to speak to someone, I like to hear a voice and get a feeling, good or bad. Plus, some agents change their status of availability – if their books are full, don’t even bother posting your submission to them!

So I phoned, I asked my questions and I made my list. Originally I intended on posting my submissions to ALL of them, figuring a rapid wide spread approach would potentially work. Through my reading and finally just sitting down to think about this, I realised it was the worst idea possible! If an agent says ‘no’, they mean it! That’s it. Your one chance with that person, blown. So posting to all at once runs the risk of stuffing up my career completely before its even begun. So I settled on Celia.

Celia Catchpole interested me immediately from her first words, but even more so from her honesty. I spoke directly to her which I instantly liked, no waffling minions in the way! She is incredibly well spoken and I get the impression that she takes absolutely no nonsense! Very straightforward and matter of fact. I like this. I like to know where I stand with someone. But the real reason I chose her was the fact that she will definitely say no.

Why then? You are clearly asking! Well, why not?! I am going to get turned down a lot, so why not start with someone who had the integrity to tell me so on the phone. Ms Catchpole happened to mention that first time authors with little or no writing experience, very rarely get picked up. So, I asked her if she had any advice for someone like me who was in exactly that situation. She simple said, “Be professional, do your research and be professional.” I liked her, I liked her a lot. We had a short but very interesting conversation and I got a great feeling. I only hope now that when she reads my manuscripts and letter that she can provide me with some advice as to what I should do next.

So, my stories are on their way.  And with them, my hopes and dreams!


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