- Get known, build your platform: articles, website, book reviews, whatever sets you apart.
- Make friends with the kidlitosphere. The 3rd annual kidlit blogger conference is coming up. Here's the link from last year's and the Kidlitosphere website. Join discussion boards (SCBWI, Children's Book Insider, etc.) or listservs (Yahoo, etc.)
- Contests & Awards: if agents are the gatekeepers for editors, contests and awards can be the gatekeepers for agents. I queried most agents via email and put "SCBWI WIP Grant recipient" in the subject line and had a 100% manuscript request rate. Other contests include Highlights, Delacorte first novel, Pockets Magazine, Children's Writer's contests...many listed in the SCBWI Bulletin and other SCBWI newsletters.
- Meet editors at conferences. Coming to an agent with a handful of editors who want to see your manuscript is definitely hot!
At this point, you need to decide whether you're pursuing an agent or an editor--your agent doesn't want to find out that your book has already been rejected by 20 publishers before he/she has had a chance to send it out.
This month's Writer's Digest has an entire section devoted to Standing Out as an author. Check it out!