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bahamaswriter
04-27-2013, 07:21 PM
My late mother wrote some delightful children's picture books, which were beautifully illustrated by my cousin.

I would like to market them, but I'm not sure what to say about the author no longer being alive when I submit them to prospective agents or publishers.

I did draw up a contract between my mother, my cousin and myself while Mum was still alive, so I have the authorization to do this. I was my mother's sole heir anyway.

I would appreciate any suggestions. Many thanks.

Siri Kirpal
04-27-2013, 10:39 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

If you were the sole heir and have a contract in place with your cousin, then you may approach agents or publishers. My understanding is that few agents take picture books, and that this is one form of fiction that's best queried directly to publishers. Any of our children's experts can confirm or deny.

You simply be upfront that you are the literary executor for your mother's estate. Also mention that the books already have illustrations and by whom. This can go at the beginning or end of the query.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

bahamaswriter
04-27-2013, 10:58 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

If you were the sole heir and have a contract in place with your cousin, then you may approach agents or publishers. My understanding is that few agents take picture books, and that this is one form of fiction that's best queried directly to publishers. Any of our children's experts can confirm or deny.

You simply be upfront that you are the literary executor for your mother's estate. Also mention that the books already have illustrations and by whom. This can go at the beginning or end of the query.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Hi Siri,

This is most helpful. Thanks so much. I like the name you have given for me to use, "literary executor". I had never thought of that!

All the best,
Fay

GinJones
04-27-2013, 11:53 PM
When you say you're the sole heir -- was there actually an estate probated? Or were you a joint owner of her assets, so a probate proceeding wasn't necessary? If it's the latter, an agent (or publisher) may require a formal proceeding before getting involved.

The laws relating to wills and inheritance vary from state to state, but the contract may not be enforceable after your mother's death.

I would recommend consulting with an attorney in your jurisdiction before proceeding with this. I don't know for sure what an agent would require, but you should find out (probably a free consultation, at least for starters) what it would take to be appointed the executor/administrator/representative of your mother's estate (or to establish, legally, that you are the sole heir, and therefore the holder of the copyrights), if an agent required you to have that authority.

As an aside -- "literary executor" is a term that's thrown around a lot, but is not well defined in the law. Unless there's a will that actually uses that term, I wouldn't recommend claiming its authority. If you're the sole heir, AND there's a probate proceeding that confirms that, OR there's a probate AND you're the executor/administrator or personal representative of the estate, then I would use whichever of those descriptions applies. (Some states still refer to executors as the person carries out the terms of a will, administrators as the person who manages an estate when there is no will. Other states are adopting a simpler procedure, whereby the person managing the estate, regardless of whether there's a will, is simply called the "personal representative." Either way, those positions are separate from a "literary executor" or "literary representative," who would be named and empowered in the will -- there must be a will, in this case -- much like a trustee would be.)

Not giving individual legal advice, just general information, and taking every opportunity to remind authors to discuss the post-mortem management of their copyrights with a legal professional in their jurisdiction, because it's actually a quite complicated issue.

bahamaswriter
04-28-2013, 12:12 AM
When you say you're the sole heir -- was there actually an estate probated? Or were you a joint owner of her assets, so a probate proceeding wasn't necessary? If it's the latter, an agent (or publisher) may require a formal proceeding before getting involved.

The laws relating to wills and inheritance vary from state to state, but the contract may not be enforceable after your mother's death.

I would recommend consulting with an attorney in your jurisdiction before proceeding with this. I don't know for sure what an agent would require, but you should find out (probably a free consultation, at least for starters) what it would take to be appointed the executor/administrator/representative of your mother's estate (or to establish, legally, that you are the sole heir, and therefore the holder of the copyrights), if an agent required you to have that authority.

As an aside -- "literary executor" is a term that's thrown around a lot, but is not well defined in the law. Unless there's a will that actually uses that term, I wouldn't recommend claiming its authority. If you're the sole heir, AND there's a probate proceeding that confirms that, OR there's a probate AND you're the executor/administrator or personal representative of the estate, then I would use whichever of those descriptions applies. (Some states still refer to executors as the person carries out the terms of a will, administrators as the person who manages an estate when there is no will. Other states are adopting a simpler procedure, whereby the person managing the estate, regardless of whether there's a will, is simply called the "personal representative." Either way, those positions are separate from a "literary executor" or "literary representative," who would be named and empowered in the will -- there must be a will, in this case -- much like a trustee would be.)

Not giving individual legal advice, just general information, and taking every opportunity to remind authors to discuss the post-mortem management of their copyrights with a legal professional in their jurisdiction, because it's actually a quite complicated issue.

Hi Gil,

Many thanks for all this most helpful information. I didn't realize it was so complex, but I was using the term "sole heir" losely. My mother lived in England and left a will naming me as her sole heir. The will didn't need to be probated, probably because there wasn't any property involved. She had very little.

I do have a solicitor friend in England, so I'll email him and see what he says. Thanks for bringing these legal aspects to my attention. This is much appreciated. It never came to my mind!

All the best,
Fay

Debbie V
04-30-2013, 03:05 AM
Here are some things to think about before you proceed.

Children's publishers prefer to match artists and authors themselves. This is better for marketing purposes. Imagine your mother's text with illustrations by an author with name recognition in the field. Submitting both together can lead to more rejections. They may like the art or text, but not both together and reject the whole.

Is your cousin a professional artist? If not, is the work up to a professional standard? Would he/she be okay with the text being accepted without the art? Is he/she interested in other assignments if the art director likes the style but not the text?

Has the material been critiqued? Forgive me, but your opinion is clearly biased toward your family members.

If an editor asks for changes to the text, who will do them? Are you okay with them selecting an author to make the work more publishable? Are you up to making changes yourself?

What is the ultimate goal you have in mind for these manuscripts? What steps toward marketing and promotion can you and your cousin take? It is rare that authors and illustrators do none these days.

There are agents who represent artists and author/illustrators. Fewer represent picture book authors. In this case, seeking an agent doesn't make sense to me unless your cousin wants representation. Agents promote a career not a manuscript. Many publishing houses accept picture book manuscripts - search Book Markets for Children's Writers to find them.

It is also a good idea to read Harold Underdown's website and the SCBWI site to learn more about this part of the industry before beginning the submissions process.

I hope the info is helpful to you.

bahamaswriter
04-30-2013, 05:52 AM
Hi Debbie - Thanks so much for taking the time to give me all these suggestions. I'll insert my replies below in blue print.


Here are some things to think about before you proceed.

Children's publishers prefer to match artists and authors themselves. This is better for marketing purposes. Imagine your mother's text with illustrations by an author with name recognition in the field. Submitting both together can lead to more rejections. They may like the art or text, but not both together and reject the whole.
Yes, I'm aware of that, but when my mother was alive, she was even more keen that my cousin's beautiful illustrations were published than the stories themselves. I feel I have to at least give it a try

Is your cousin a professional artist? If not, is the work up to a professional standard? Would he/she be okay with the text being accepted without the art? Is he/she interested in other assignments if the art director likes the style but not the text?
I'm not too sure of her background in art, but she is a brilliant artist. I'm sure she would be okay with the text being accepted without the art. I don't know if she would be interested in other assignments, but I would think so.

Has the material been critiqued? Forgive me, but your opinion is clearly biased toward your family members.
My mother accompanied me to a writers' meeting in England once and I read her books to the group. They all raved about them and I don't think they were just being kind.

If an editor asks for changes to the text, who will do them? Are you okay with them selecting an author to make the work more publishable? Are you up to making changes yourself?
I am a published writer myself and would be happy to make changes. I would also be okay with them selecting an author to make the work more publishable, if necessary

What is the ultimate goal you have in mind for these manuscripts? What steps toward marketing and promotion can you and your cousin take? It is rare that authors and illustrators do none these days.
I would love to see them published in my mother's memory. This would be a more fitting memorial to her than buying a memorial plaque for instance. I would be the one doing the marketing and promotion.

There are agents who represent artists and author/illustrators. Fewer represent picture book authors. In this case, seeking an agent doesn't make sense to me unless your cousin wants representation. Agents promote a career not a manuscript. Many publishing houses accept picture book manuscripts - search Book Markets for Children's Writers to find them.
I hadn't actually considered seeking an agent for my mother's books. Perhaps I posted this in the wrong forum! From all my research on children's picture book markets, it seems publishers are open to receiving submissions direct.

It is also a good idea to read Harold Underdown's website and the SCBWI site to learn more about this part of the industry before beginning the submissions process.
Thanks for the tips. I'll google these names and check them out

I hope the info is helpful to you.

Debbie, thanks again for all your help.

Best wishes,
Fay

Debbie V
05-06-2013, 10:28 PM
Hi Fay,

I'm glad I could help.

Discuss the idea of seeking other assignments with your cousin. You may be better off having your cousin submit directly to art directors if she is up to it. Also, your letter can include a statement that all parties are fine with the work being separated.

I'm not sure if the writer's meeting you went to with your mother is helpful in terms of critique. Were these writers or other professionals in the field of writing for children? Picture books are as different from other fiction as poetry is. Consider posting in SYW once you've reached the 50 posts required. We have a few published members at AW who are very knowledgeable about the market in this field.

You're correct that many agents don't take picture books but if your cousin wants a career in this field an artists' rep may be helpful.

Approach publishers with your credentials and clear info that you rep your mother's estate (see the legal advice from others). Follow their guidelines. Add the info mentioned about separating the work. They'll want to know this and know that you can handle the marketing component.

good luck.

bahamaswriter
05-08-2013, 04:59 AM
Hi Fay,

I'm glad I could help.

Discuss the idea of seeking other assignments with your cousin. You may be better off having your cousin submit directly to art directors if she is up to it. Also, your letter can include a statement that all parties are fine with the work being separated.

I'm not sure if the writer's meeting you went to with your mother is helpful in terms of critique. Were these writers or other professionals in the field of writing for children? Picture books are as different from other fiction as poetry is. Consider posting in SYW once you've reached the 50 posts required. We have a few published members at AW who are very knowledgeable about the market in this field.

You're correct that many agents don't take picture books but if your cousin wants a career in this field an artists' rep may be helpful.

Approach publishers with your credentials and clear info that you rep your mother's estate (see the legal advice from others). Follow their guidelines. Add the info mentioned about separating the work. They'll want to know this and know that you can handle the marketing component.

good luck.

Thanks again, Debbie. I'm in the Bahamas and my cousin lives in England. I don't think she has any plans to pursue book illustrations.

Most of the writers at the meeting were well established and several were successful authors. I've had other positive input along the way too though. I also have confidence in the books myself. It's not going to cost me anything to submit them to publishers, except time and postage.

I will definitely follow your advice and that of the others in this thread. Thanks again for all the help!

Best wishes,
Fay

Phaeal
05-08-2013, 09:02 PM
And, if you don't get any bites from agents/publishers, this sounds like a good project to self-publish, especially if you're willing to study the process, commit to a quality product, and then do significant promotion.

bahamaswriter
05-08-2013, 10:14 PM
And, if you don't get any bites from agents/publishers, this sounds like a good project to self-publish, especially if you're willing to study the process, commit to a quality product, and then do significant promotion.

Thanks for your input, Phaeal. I have that in mind as well, but unfortunately can't afford it at the present time. Self-publishing with local printers in the Bahamas is expensive and if I used a U.S. publisher, shipping the books here is expensive too.