Ryan asks:

I have a question about writing a query letter to an agent for a picture book I’ve written and illustrated and I’m wondering if you would lend your opinion.

 

Under any circumstance do you feel it’s appropriate to send a link to a pdf of my book, illustrations with text, to an agent? The illustrations have been professionally scanned and the text was placed by a professional graphic designer as well. So even if the book is not a fit for the agent, the presentation is very professional.

 

I think the answer is no on this, no matter what, but I just didn’t know because it seems like my book is quite a bit further along in the creative process. Maybe the answer is still no.

 

Thanks in advance for you thoughts.

Hi Ryan,

Thanks for the question!

There are a number of agencies that don’t accept attachments of any kind with their queries, and so my advice to any author-illustrator would be to host the dummy on your website (preferably password protected) or include a link to the dummy on Dropbox or Google Drive.

In short, a link to your dummy would be not only okay, but expected if you’re seeking representation as an author-illustrator. I worry from your question that you haven’t had a chance to do any children’s writers/illustrators conferences, yet? Or that you might not have a picture book critique group with some members that have been steadily working towards or have already been published?

My advice would be to go to some conferences and get professional feedback on your dummy, as well as go to your local bookstore and see if your dummy is comparable to what’s on the shelves.

I’m certainly not saying to copy someone else’s style – obviously your style is what makes your work yours and interesting. But there are other considerations that are unique to picture book art. E.g. Can the art be easily read and understood by a child? (Remember, children can be very literal and have a harder time with abstractions.) Is it structured in a way that leads you to the page turn? Are your characters consistent? How does the page turn change/push the story?

Anyway, there are a number of national and regional SCBWI conferences with opportunities to have your dummy looked at by an agent or editor for feedback. I highly recommend checking them out before you start querying, if you haven’t already done so!

I hope this helps!

(For more, I’ve also talked about this in Who chooses the illustrator for picture books? and Reader question: Will an agent look at picture book projects that are already illustrated and self-published?)

Chicken Wants a Nap by Tracy Marchini

"A surprising gem." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Chicken Wants a Nap is available at Amazon, Barnes & NobleTarget and your favorite independent bookstore!

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