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Mail about Writing

Hello, I have just sent out three picture book manuscripts.  Do you have an agent?  What is your advice regarding agents?—Rosemary in Indianapolis

Yes, my agent is Tracey Adams at Adams Literary. There are some large publishing houses that will only accept manuscripts that have been submitted by agents. However, few agents are willing to take on an unpublished client.   You may have to publish your first book or magazine articles on your own before you will be able to find an agent interested in representing you.  Most agents prefer that you send a query letter before you submit your work. A list of reputable agents may be obtained from the SCBWI or from The Association of Author's Representatives.   Check out my For Writers pages to see the advice I wish someone had given me when I was first starting out.

What made you want to do children's books?

When I had children of my own and was reading the thousands of books they brought home from the library (I’m not kidding, thousands!), I grew fascinated with how the art and words in a picture book work together to tell a story.

Many years ago you spoke to a class I was taking at IUPUI-Indianapolis on Children's Lit. . . I appreciate the information on publishing that you have listed. Thank you for your contributions to my own children's library and for the unsolicited support through the years.

I'm happy to have been of help. Good luck with your work!

I am currently in college and I know I want to write Children's books. My problem is I am not sure if I am wasting my time going to college when i could be writing . . .What do you think? Do you think that Children's authors today need a college degree to succeed?

While it's not necessary to have a college degree to succeed as a writer, most writers I know do have college degrees. I think that what's most important is not the degree but the opportunity that earning the degree allows. Most writers I know tend to be curious people who love learning in and of itself, and for them, the opportunity to learn is sheer pleasure. I know that for me, college and graduate school provided the luxury of spending wonderful years doing nothing but learning—reading, thinking, writing, talking—and I can't think of a better preparation for a writing career. I learned not only ordinary things about preparing a manuscript (like when to capitalize a particular word), but even more important things (like Einstein's dictum that one must "never lose a holy curiosity"). Good luck with your work.

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