LeAnn asks:

I am yet to be a published author. I write children’s books, and I have been submitting my manuscript to both literary agents and publishers. I just received an email from a publisher stating that they were interested in publishing my book. It turns out it was a contributory contract, and it came from a ‘vanity publisher’


It is extremely difficult to get published, I never know the right route to take, and I just keep pressing on and hoping. I know that it’s hard to get a contract with a literary agent when you are an unpublished author, and I also know that it is hard to get published by a publisher when you don’t have a literary agent. I’m just wondering if you are accepting queries again, or if you have any advice for me?

Hi LeAnn!

I’m so sorry to hear that you had that experience with the vanity publisher – it’s heartbreaking when we think a deal is one thing and find out that it’s another.

My advice would be to first decide whether you want representation, because unfortunately if you shop the same manuscript to agents and editors at the same time, you’ll find that an agent can’t then turn around and submit to the same publishers that you’ve already submitted the manuscript to – even if they know that another editor would be a better fit.

If you haven’t read my series on Working with an Agent, I’ll link to it here below as it might be helpful in figuring out whether you want to focus on getting representation or on trying to go along without.

But the other thing to know is that agents take on debut authors and illustrators all the time, and so I think the best thing I can share with you is that you don’t have to be published to get an agent. In fact, for many agents, one of the most enjoyable things about agenting is finding new, debut voices and working to get them on the shelves!

So, the only thing to really do is keep going. Unfortunately, this might mean a new manuscript if you’ve already sent the current one to too many editors. But finding representation always comes down to writing, revising, growing your craft, perfecting your query and researching agents for the right fit.

I hope this is helpful and gives you some hope – because if you want representation, you can just focus your energies there. On writing the best book you can, and finding the best agent for it.

Preorders now available for Princesses Can Fix It! on AmazonBarnes & NobleBookshop.org, Indiebound, and you can add the book to your Goodreads.

For a personalized, autographed copy, you can pre-order from The Silver Unicorn

Chicken Wants a Nap by Tracy Marchini

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

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

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