How should I do this? (Long story)
This is a long story, so hang in there while I meander my way to the point. Over the last year I’ve had the pleasure of doing a couple of books with creators who have their own followings. It has been fun to launch those Kickstarters and watch them get funded, etc. But then I paired with a guy who is a pretty well know activist in my area who also happens to be a media darling (he’s been on national news and shows like Kelly Clarkson). He wanted to do a book about littering and sanitation workers and self-publish it. A week into the Kickstarter campaign, a local magazine picked up the story and 24 hours later a literary agent emailed me and asked to represent us. I couldn’t believe it! We signed a week or two later and had a few meetings with her about putting together our pitch packet and then suddenly I stopped hearing from her. After a couple of weeks I got an email from the business manager at the agency that she resigned suddenly because of an unforeseen health issue. I felt very bad for her and completely understood. The agency offered to find a place with another of their agents if a good fit could be found. After a rather long wait, I recently received the word that a match couldn’t be found. So we are on our own again.
We decided to attempt to sign with another agency, but self-publish if we don’t get anywhere with that. So my thought is that we are going to have a horrible time trying to get an agent as a author and illustrator team. Does anyone have any advice on how to proceed?
Does this make sense? I’m wondering if anyone here has ever successfully teamed up with a writer and found an agent that way or if they have heard of this happening. And if so could I get some advice on how to approach an agent or art director with this unusual project.
Normally I would say “this isn’t how the industry works” and just self publish, but it was the utter excitement from our previous agent about the project that makes me feel like we have something special that someone else might pick up.
I’m wondering about my submission letter and if I should include this back story about initially teaming up to self publish but getting an agent etc. to explain why we are a team?
Asyas_illos last edited by Asyas_illos
@deboraht ugh I wish I had experience in this so I could offer helpful advice, however if it had been me I think I would just keep moving forward, and do the Kickstarter and self publish, you may pick up agents and art directors after doing so, grabbing their attention I mean. There are some good podcasts by the guys regarding Kickstarter and self publishing, that you should check out if you haven’t already.
@asyas_illos thank you so much for replying. Honestly I feel the same way. It was more my author partner that wanted to keep trying. And actually the Kickstarter is already done and was very successful! Thanks for you’re input!
Asyas_illos last edited by
@deboraht oh well good for you! Good luck then!
@deboraht Publishing a book traditionally can be a royal pain. You have to get through an agent and THEN an publisher. Both would ask for a lot of changes and may not preserve you guys' vision. And yes, most agents and publishers too, do not accept author illustrator teams in most circumstances. The publishers want to be the one to pick a perfect illustrator for the script, so pitched that already include one are considered less competitive.
It's also a very lengthy process (books being announced right now as being picked up are for a 2024 release already). You'd keep your Kickstarter supporters waiting a looong time.
The advantages of going the traditional publishing route is that the publisher puts in the upfront investment of money to get the book produced, and markets and distributes the book.
However, it seems with a fully funded Kickstarter and an author/activist who's a media darling and great at promotion, there's not much that traditional publishing could do for you that you don't already have.
You guys have the money raised, you should go right ahead! You'll be able to publish the book according to your vision, get it out faster and not have to go through years of pitching and red tape.
@nessillustration thank you for your thoughtful reply. I told him the same thing… a two year wait - after finding an agent and getting the book sold. So you’re saying that author-illustrator teams are both very rare and difficult to sell. Yeah, that’s what I was thinking too. Like I said before, the only thing that makes me wonder is that when we had that first meeting with our agent, who’s been in publishing for 30 years, she was so surprised she was the only agent who contacted us. So I really thought one of the other agents would take us on but they didn’t. I guess she just really connected to it. Maybe she was an anomaly. She said her dad was a sanitation worker in NYC… maybe that was it. I guess I’ll never know.
@deboraht There are always outlier cases of an agent falling in love with a project and getting it signed even if it's not a typical pitch! Clearly she saw the potential and thought the art did suit the script. I'm thinking other agents didn't contact you two because they assume since you're going the self-publishing route AND are already funded, you don't need or want their services... I tend to agree!