Sub It Club member Nilah Magruder’s debut picture book HOW TO FIND A FOX has just released!
Nilah is sharing her process and journey to publication with us. She told us about The Story, The Dummy, and The Query in our last post. If you didn’t read it yet then go catch up on her inspiring tale, see how Nilah worked to make her idea salable, and how she braved querying.
At the end of the last post we left Nilah hyperventilating. She has queried an agent that favorited her pitch!* You know the feeling you get after pushing that send button! But we don’t have to wait any longer to see what happens. Be prepared to be inspired! Onto The Call, The Submission, and The Deal:
Would you have a moment to chat either today or sometime next week?
What happened next? You guessed it.
But afterward I set up a time for Michelle to call, we chatted about my submission, and she offered representation! After a grueling two weeks, deciding between this and another wonderful offer, I e-mailed Michelle and accepted her offer.
Once the new year started, Michelle and I got to work getting my book ready for editor submission. She suggested a few edits to the art and the text. Then we put together a proposal. For the first time, I got to see what agents send to editors to persuade them to purchase projects. It was also my first time seeing the comp title at work. A comp title is a book that’s similar to yours (be it in theme, tone, or visual style), and it’s an excellent tool to help an editor envision a marketing plan and where a book might fit in their list. Michelle compiled the document and sent it to me to fill in my bio and other details. Then it was off!
I consider myself lucky throughout this entire process. I’d begun working on this story about a year ago, and in a matter of weeks I had an agent and it was on submission. I had not found an agent through the traditional querying process, but I managed to find the right representation on my first #pitmad. And just two weeks after going on submission, my agent e-mailed me with amazing news: a publisher was making an offer on my book!
I’d gotten the hyperventilating under control by then, but I was still elated.
We accepted the offer from Feiwel & Friends in a pre-empt; essentially, a publisher offers a bigger deal to prevent the book from going to auction with other publishers. My first call with my editor, Anna Roberto, was amazing. I joined her on a conference call with Michelle. Anna had fantastic ideas for the book and we hit it off right away. By now I felt I was getting a full picture of what it takes to sell a book, and I was starting to appreciate the roles of agents and editors in a way I never had before. It can be a letdown to get excited about querying an agent you like, hoping to be represented by them, only for them to turn down your project. “It’s not for me,” they might say. The business is very subjective. Agents don’t just want to like a book, they want to LOVE it—and now I know why. Once you sign with an agent, they must take your book and pitch it to editors. And then, once an editor falls in love with your book, they must then pitch it to their company’s acquisitions team. The role of the querying writer is transferred to the agent and the editor in turn. To convince others to buy into your book, they must love it just as much as you do, if not more so.
So, if you have not yet found the right agent or publisher, don’t despair. It’s a subjective business, and there are many agents and editors, all with different tastes. Hold out for that agent that falls in love with your book, who can’t get it out of their head, who understands and believes in your vision. Find an editor who will champion your book just as hard as you have.
Wherever you are in your submission journey, don’t give up. What you’re looking for might be closer than you think!
Nilah Magruder is not only a picture book author-illustrator. She’s an award-winning comic creator and a storyboard and concept artist at Disney. You can find her book, HOW TO FIND A FOX, on Amazon, Indiebound, and other great places where books are sold. Add HOW TO FIND A FOX to your Goodreads. Order it in at your local library. And don’t forget, you can find Nilah at nilahmagruder.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @nilaffle.
*Bonus – Want to read about Nilah’s pitch for HOW TO FIND A FOX? Check out this post from Nilah and Michelle: Have Yourself a Merry Little #Pitmad.