Okay, not sure why I am so obsessed with Michael Stearns.
1) I already have a literary agent. And a good one at that.
2) I already have a husband. No complaints about him either.
But I am totally in love with this guy's article on Agenting Picture Books.
I want to send it all my talented writer friends. Not to mention all the people out there who think that just because they were once a kid and they know how to form sentences that they are qualified to write a picture book.
Michael Stearns captures it brilliantly:
A really great picture book is a difficult art to pull off. I’m deadly serious when I use the word “art” here. That’s how I view a great picture book. It is about grace and the right words in the right place—much more akin to poetry than mere storytelling.
He goes on to explain:
It is rarely obvious in a well-written picture book draft what, exactly, is missing. The prose may read well enough, the story may have a beginning, a middle, an end. The punctuation may be in all the right places. The images called to mind may be original and fun. And yet, something about the manuscript is off. Perhaps the concept isn’t quite “there.”
So in some cases, the agent reads the manuscript, ponders it, sets it aside to marinate. Comes back to it a week later, rereads it, ponders it, makes a few notes. Keeps doing this until something unlocks. Because seeing the “fix” that will give a good manuscript heart, or finding a way to cut out half the words without cutting out the soul of the story—is hard work.
So, if you don't LOVE picture books. If you don't enter a bookstore and head directly to the PB section (without your kids). If you don't feel like you are destined to write them and no other career could possibly be right for you. Then stick to being a dentist. (Or a fourth grader).
Or pick a different art form.
And if you're looking for an agent (or a husband), head on over and read Michael's article in its entirety. You might fall for him, too.