Sunday, July 29, 2012

Children's book to agent? Check. Slice of humble pie? Yes, please

Well, now that we've gotten all that heavy stuff out of the way, let's get back to the fun stuff. Namely how I made good on a promise I made to myself years ago. I finally—finally—submitted a children's book I wrote to an agent.


I've been eagerly awaiting a response for months. I only submitted the story, which is a one page rhyming picture book, to one agent. She was highly recommended by a friend of mine. In fact, my friend practically guaranteed I'd get published because this agent's specialty is quirky, weird authors who write quirky, weird stories.

Ding, ding.

Well, the agent responded via email last week. (If there's an astrologer reading this post, could you shoot me an email and explain why the Universe threw me a trifecta of thunderbolts last week? I'm Capricorn, thanks.)

Before I read the agent's email I imagined the best: a 3-book deal. Phrases like "You're amazing!" Accolades. Advances.

I'd sat on this dream for more than a decade. Why not give myself a mental orgasm? Why not?

I soon found out why not.

The agent responded in bold, capital letters. So easy on the eyes! She used words like "heavy handed," "clunky" and "implausible."

Um hello, is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs plausible? The townspeople are fed by the skies. Is any Curious George story plausible? Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't most children's books loved and revered because of the nut-grabbing fabulousness of their implausibility? 

The agent told me that if a teacher behaved the way mine had in my story she'd be fired and/or sued. "THERE WOULD BE A REVOLT!"

I guess she hasn't read Lynn Plourde's Science Fair Day—the one where the teacher lets a little girl wreck other kids' science projects without reprimanding her whatsoever. Or how about when Curious George visits his friend's school for the day and none of the parents sign waivers? What kind of teacher would allow that?

Nope, according to this agent, if it's a children's book it must be politically correct.  

And then. I understand that pulling off a book full of rhymes is challenging, not so much because of the task itself but because the rhymes must feel effortless. You must not feel as if someone picked a word just because. Sadly, she accused me of just that. 

Like Steve Martin's children's book Late for School? I wanted to ask. When he writes, "Elbowed grandma passing by. Her face went into a pie"? Why the hell is grandma eating pie for breakfast? Wouldn't an Ensure or a big ole bowl of Fiber One be more plausible?

Or how about when Martin writes, "Leapt across three lawn flamingos. Waved to Sal, he's Filipino." 


I didn't bother telling the agent any of this. I accepted her critique. I thanked her profusely for her input. And you know what? I don't feel that bad. One, because venting is good. Second, because at least I got the damn draft out of my house and into a mailbox. Third, because I let my mother read it and you know what she said?

"This is cute. Did you write this in elementary school?"

Er, maybe it does need some revising...


tarheelmom said...

Hey! Kudos to you for even getting it on paper...much less getting it out the door. Also, it's not fair that celebrities can rhyme flamingos and filipino!

DianaL said...

Good for you getting your book out to the publisher. I've had an idea in my head for YEARS now, but have never put it down in writing.

As always, love your perspective.

Fellow Capricorn...

Small Town Mommy said...

I think it's amazing that you actually wrote something and sent it to an agent. You are already so far ahead of most wannabe writers. You go girl!

MaryBT said...

Whatever. Kids books are always realistic. Take the book I read my 4 year old last night ... "How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food." Obviously, dinosaurs in today's world have human parents and human classmates. I see it all the time. Now, get your head out of the clouds.

Patty Woodland said...

Hey, you sent it out. Most people don't have the guts to do that. Now work on it and send it again.

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