1. Tom Kerr
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    Tom Kerr New Member

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    Quite a lot of questions.

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Tom Kerr, Jul 11, 2009.

    Hello guys.

    This is my first post here and I am glad I found a forum like this that discusses books, writing and the publishing side of things. I am 15 (16 in October) and I am interested in becoming a writer in the future.

    I mainly would like to write childrens books (short stories) to begin with and see what opportunities open up.

    I live in the UK and I'm not sure if this forum is mainly inhabited by American citizens. If this is the cae this post will probably be a waste of time as you may not know of any ways to help because of where I live.

    I have a few questions to ask:
    1. Is 15 too young to think, and maybe act on my ambition of writing? I don't want to be put down simply because of my age.

    2. Is a literary agent 100% required to get into the writing field? Most websites of UK publishers (like Orchard Books) simply say things like "Orchard Books and Hodder Children’s Books do not accept unsolicited manuscripts for consideration.

    Franklin Watts and Wayland do not generally accept unsolicited manuscripts for consideration. Our Editors specially commission the majority of our non-fiction titles.

    We wish you every success in placing your work elsewhere. You may already know that you can find a list of children's book publishers and agents in The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook, published annually by A & C Black and available from most public libraries."

    3. What exactly does 'unsolicited manuscripts' mean? I know what a manuscript is, but what does it mean if it is unsolicited?

    4. Do literary agents cost money? I would rather find publishers that accept manuscripts from new writers over having to spend money on things like this.

    Thank you for reading my post and I hope someone has an insight for me into the process of publishing regarding the questions I have asked.

    Thanks,
    Tom Kerr.
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Tom Kerr,

    I will put in some quick answers to your questions, but if you search the forums here, you'll find detailed discussions on most of what you've asked.

    No, age is not an issue. Unless you bring it up, an agent/editor will not know your age when reading/considering your submissions. If/when it comes time to sign a contract, they may discover it, but by then they're sold on your work--it's professional and publishable quality.

    No, not absolutely necessary but very very very helpful opening doors that are otherwise closed--and most doors are closed to writers that are not represented yet hoping to submit to larger publishers. I don't know a lot about children's literature, but my understanding is if you can secure an agent, it's the way to go.

    It is a manuscript they (a publisher/agent) didn't request to see or review. That publishing house, for example, doesn't have a slush pile. It means that your work should be submitted through an agent, or if they have a query process where you send a query letter, and if they respond that they want to see more...then your submission is then no longer 'unsolicited.'

    Another option is to attend a writers conference, meet an agent/editor and pitch your work. If they like what they hear, they'll tell you (probably give you a business card) and to send them whatever they ask for.

    Also, on occasion networking can lead to requests to see your work, and again, if it is requested, then it is no longer 'unsolicited.'

    No. They don't cost money. Be very wary of any agency that charges reading fees or submission fees or anything that draws money out of the writer's pocket prior to the agent actually selling your work. An agent opens doors to publishers, negotiates a contract beneficial to the author, helps guide a writer's career, etc. For that they earn about 15% of an author's take in advance/royalties. They only get paid if the writer gets paid.

    There is a lot more to know about agents and submitting than what I've posted, but it's a start.

    Good luck with your writing and research.

    Terry
     
  3. Tom Kerr
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    Tom Kerr New Member

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    Thank you for your answers Terry! Once I have built up quite a lot of refined and improved pieces I will look into finding a literary agent. That's if I can find one in the UK that doesnt cost any money. Thanks again.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...no... see terry's answer on this...

    no, an agent is not necessary, though in many cases, it's recommended that you have one...

    that said, it's not likely you'll find many [or any] agent willing to take on a single children's book by a new and unknown writer, as there's so little money in it for them even if they do find a publisher for it and chances of doing that are slim to none... so, it's probably best to query publishers directly, till you've sold a couple and will be more attractive to an agent... that's how things stand in the us, but it may be a different kettle of fish in the uk and commonwealth countries...

    you are misinterpreting 'unsolicited'... that does not refer to having or not having an agent... it only means you must query first... then, if your query letter is successful and they like your idea for a book, they will request/'solicit' the ms...

    no... legit agents do not charge a single penny up front... they are only paid AFTER they get a publisher to buy your work... and then they take usually 15% of all the book makes...

    for more details, or help with any of it, just drop me a line any time, as i mentor many writers of children's books... of all ages!

    love and hugs, maia
     
  5. Tom Kerr
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    Tom Kerr New Member

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    Okay, thank you for the response, Maia.
    The problem I have with sending a query letter is most of the publishers websites say they dont accept unsolicited, but dont give an address if you want to send them something like this. I'm sure I could find it, but it's just annoying that they dont link the two together. Thanks for the replies.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i think you may still be confused over that 'unsolicited' business... publishers don't have different addresses for queries and mss... and if they say they don't accept 'unsolicited material' that means only mss, not queries... so, unless they specifically say they don't accept any 'unsolicited queries' then you just send your query to the address provided... and if you can't find an address on their website, then you're probably not looking hard enough...
     

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