Thursday, December 19, 2013
Why don't I represent children's books? by Terry Burns
I'm a grandpa, they call me 'Po.' Wasn't my choice, I let them call me whatever they wanted and I think they were trying for 'Pa.' Actually I'm a great-grandfather about to welcome my third great-grandchild. What does that to do with the question posed in the title?
I think nearly every children's book I have ever seen is cute and would be something I would read to my grandkids. That means I am not a good judge as to which ones are better than others. If I can't do that, I can't do a good job of selecting ones I want to represent.
I did go to a children's conference to see if I did want to start representing younger projects, specifically children's books, picture books and first readers. By the end of the conference I was sure I had made the right decision in not representing anything younger than middle readers, and I don't handle many of them. At least I am better able to evaluate middle readers. I even have a grandson who has written and published a couple of middle reader short stories. (The editor who acquired it said it got special attention because they had never had an eleven year old author come in agented before.)
But it is about more than the ability to judge a good product. We don't sell books to publishing houses, we sell books to acquiring editors that we know and have a relationship with. Since the conference I just talked about is the only children's book conference I've attended I know very few such editors. That means I don't have the right contacts to represent projects that young effectively.
But mostly, it's because I'm a great-grandpa and love ALL children's books.