Everyone loves a good children’s book. So, if this is the genre you write in, you are in great company. What’s more, the outlook is stable, and this is one of the most profitable genres if you get it right.
When writing children’s books, it’s always a good idea to make sure you understand the genres and the needs of the publishers to know who will be most interested in your project. So, to begin with, let’s take a look at the different areas this genre covers.
Children’s Book Literary Agents: Picture Books
Picture books are as you would expect: they are stories where illustrations are a major component. Types of picture books include:
- Baby books for babies and younger toddlers. These are typically shorter in length. They may contain few or even no words at all. They can include nursery rhymes, fingerplays, and lullabies.
- Toddler books also fall under the umbrella of picture books and are typically less than 300 words. They are simple stories that are relevant to a toddler’s daily routine or teach a certain concept. Pop-up books and board books are engaging formats, as are the ones that include textures, scents, or sounds (novelty books).
- Picture books are approximately 32 pages in length and typically targeted at children aged 4-8 years old.
- Early picture books are books geared toward children aged 4 or 5 years old. Think preschool age. Stories are typically less than 1,000 words. Board book format is still appropriate at this level.
- Easy readers for ages 6-8 years of age who are just beginning to read. These books include illustrations on each page like picture books, but can be up to 64 pages and have as many as 2000 words.
- Transition books are for kids 6-9 years of age. These are also called “early chapter books” and are used as a stepping stone from easy readers to chapter books.
- Chapter books are 45-60 manuscript pages. They have chapters 3 or 4 pages in length that end mid-scene to keep kids turning pages. Stories are meatier with more action.
- Middle Grade is often referred to as MG. It is is for aged 8-12 years old. Stories can be more complicated and stretch to 150 manuscript pages. Common genres appear at this level, and in fiction, this can be anything from science fiction/fantasy to historical, etc.
- Young Adult is commonly abbreviated as YA. These are books for ages 12 years and beyond. Manuscripts can be 200 pages in length. They have several major characters and more complex plots with themes that resonate with teenage struggles. Some YA themes can be targeted toward young adults ages 18-25 and will address social issues that may be inappropriate for some 12-14-year-olds. For this reason, there seems to be a trend toward YA targeted to ages 10-14 which may evolve into a separate category in the future.
Children’s Book Literary Agents: A List for 2017
Now that you have a clearer understanding of where your project will be categorized by most children’s book literary agents in the US, below are some great agents to consider:
Jennifer Flannery of Flannery Literary. This is a Chicago-based agency with a goal of “putting good books in the hands—and hearts—of young readers.” The agency requests email queries for picture books. Embed the entire picture book into an email.
Sara Crowe is now a senior agent at Pippin Properties. They represent authors of picture books, MG, YA fiction as well as literary graphic novels novelty and adult trade. Pippin Properties was found in 1988 and is in New York City. This small team of 5 agents led by President and Creative Director, Holly M. McGhee, hosts parties with the specific purpose of highlighting their authors which are a huge advantage for clients.
If you’re interested in finding one of the children’s book literary agents in New York who can handle your needs from print to big screen and anything in between, the team at Pippin Properties is a good place to start. Follow their submission guidelines carefully.
Natalie Lakosil joined Bradford Literary Agency in early 2011 after several years with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. She is attracted to new authors and is not seeking memoir, adult thriller, screenplays, poetry, or romantic suspense. She specializes in children’s literature, historical and contemporary romance, as well as MG with heart.
To catch Natalie’s attention, your query should demonstrate your fresh, unique voice and hook. Be sure to review and follow detailed submission guidelines.
Paul Rodeen of Rodeen Literary Management founded his agency in 2008 after leaving a noteworthy position as assistant to George Nicholson in the children’s department of Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.
Clients include Lisa Graff, author of It is not Time for Sleeping, and Kate Berube, author of the picture book The Summer Nick Taught his Cat to Read. For details on how to submit your work see his submissions page.
Adriana Dominguez of Full Circle Literary is just one of the children’s book literary agents in the US seeking submissions from both writers and writer-illustrators. Illustrators should show their distinctive style to catch the attention of Adriana. She is drawn to “funny or endearing” picture books “with an element of the unexpected.” Read and adhere to submission guidelines to submit your work online.
Children’s Book Literary Agents: Advice
There are thousands of children’s book literary agents in the US and around the globe. Don’t make the mistake of mass emailing or submitting to multiple agents without taking the time to see if they are a good fit. To know whether an agent suits your project or not, you must be intimately familiar with how your work fits into the children’s book market.
Just like children, every one of today’s children’s book literary agents is different. So, find the one that believes wholeheartedly in your book and demonstrates the enthusiasm to get it into the right hands.