When you were starting out, did you ever work with an agent? How do you feel about contacting literary/illustration agencies to sell your work to potential book publishers?

You can have quite a bit of success with an agent showing your work around for you. Many have great relationships with different houses, and can get your work into the most receptive hands. The problem is getting that agent.

Many times agents, like publishers, won’t touch someone until they are more established (at least some of the bigger agents). This means you have to try to get published on your own and start up your career, then they can then step in and help guide you (hopefully) upward.

My advice (and what worked for me): Try to get published on your own if you can, because you could spend just as much time courting an agency. You may be able to do it yourself. And keep in mind, agents take a percentage of your gross, and those first advances aren’t that big.

I held out for as long as I could before I got an agency to represent me. That’s because I wanted a BIG agency to represent me, one that could not only handle my books, but movies and licenses as well. I didn’t have representation until after my first few books were published. Prior to that, I had an entertainment attorney look over my contracts.

Which leads me to…

If you can’t find an agent, at least get an entertainment attorney (with book deal experience) to look over your contract. You need to be educated on how business is done with creative property, and an attorney is a good start. Some attorneys may want a percentage of your advance, or you may be able to pay them a flat fee. My advice is to do it, an ounce of prevention can go a long way.

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Never Abandon Imagination Tony DiTerlizzi: Never abandon imagination.

Imagination is a world of possibility that exists within each of us. It is what makes us uniquely human. It is our creative fingerprint that touches and influences the world around us. Imagination is essential to art and science; to innovation and prosperity. It gives us hope, calls us to action and leads to change.

Whether it’s fairies, dragons, robots or aliens, all of my children’s book characters are siblings born of my imagination – an imagination strengthened through years of encouragement from family, teachers and friends. While so many others abandoned it during their transition from childhood to adulthood, I fiercely held onto mine, hoping for a day when I could share it to inspire the next generation of dreamers. Innovators. World changers.

Imagination empowers us to envision and create a reality of what could be. We must hold it dear, foster it and never abandon it.