Last month we had an unexpected death in the family and our lives have been in an upside down state of suspended animation ever since. As all freelancers do when something like this happens, I've modified my workload to fit the circumstances the best I can. Even though I'm getting a slow start, I'm determined to get going on PubSubPackMo and I hope you'll join me. What is it? It's a month of children's publishing research. Researching one publisher a day during the month of February will take you a long way for the rest of the year and beyond...
In the past I found I would submit to 10 publishers at a time and then let the whole thing drop for months because the research was overwhelming, but it's best to keep submissions going out several times a year so you'll stay in front of the publishers you're interested in. If it becomes a part of what you do all the time, the habit should be as easy as brushing your teeth and before long you'll have a good list to send your work to. From there, if you're producing great work, sending it out consistently and continuing to grow your mailing list, your odds of being signed on for a project will go up considerably.
How to start? First take a serious look at your work and think about the type of assignments you want to do. Do you have a strong voice or are you more generic in what you do? Start looking at the books publishers are publishing to get a sense of where you fit in. Look online, in catalogs, at libraries, bookstores, on Amazon, etc. If you are having trouble getting a clear picture of which publishers fit you, your voice may not be strong enough or maybe you have several styles that need to be promoted separately. You might even need someone else to look at our work and give you some feedback.
It's a common notion for newcomers to think they should get the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market and send to every publisher in there. How do I know? About 16 years ago, I was illustrating botanicals and thinking about going into children's illustration. Not knowing anything about the children's publishing market, I approached a children's illustrator I knew and told her my plan to blanket the entire industry with my samples. The look on her face was one of amused pity as she patiently explained why this was a bad idea. It was clear that I would need to research each publisher individually to match my work to the right ones. Back then, this generally involved making a lot of phone calls. Horrified, I abandoned the children's publishing idea for quite a few years and stuck with the publishing opportunities I had doing botanicals.
These days it's a lot easier to research publishers. Phone calls to verify addresses are rarely necessary and most submission guidelines are online or in the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market. Always make sure to use the most recent information you can find. Even then, information will sometimes be wrong. In my last batch of promotional postcards I had two come back for incorrect addresses, but it could have been much worse had I not been so careful in my research.
I will be posting throughout the month about the submission process and different information I find during my research. Feel free to join me and share what you find or ask a question or two. In the meantime, I'm off to research my publisher for the day!