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Industry organizations such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (www.scbwi.org) offer lots of benefits to their members, including directories of agencies that are looking for new clients (not all are). SCBWI hosts two annual conferences along with several regional events throughout the year and publishes a bi-monthly trade bulletin. You can also find lists of screened literary agents in free or fee-based online databases, among them Agent Query (www.agentquery.com) and LiteraryMarketplace.com. But do vet any agents you’re considering by asking for client references and details about their track record. Ask if they’re members of the Association of Authors’ Representatives (http://aaronline.org), a group of agents who have agreed to abide by certain ethical standards.
Alternatively, you may also want to consider self-publishing (think e-books and print on demand). You can contact the Small Publishers Association of North America, a nonprofit trade association supporting authors and independent publishers, and Writers Write, an organization devoted to offering resources and industry links in self- and e-publishing. Be sure to check out “The Write Way to Grow,” (November 2006) and be sure to pick up 2010 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market by Alice Pope (Writers Digest Books; $29.99).