Sheldon Fogelman started his literary agency in 1975 - this guy has the chops! Before becoming an agent he was the attorney representing Maurice Sendak, and still represents him today. He also reps a ton of children's literature luminaries, like Mo Willems! Check out this list of Newbery and Caldecott and National Book Awards and more won by his clients.
As Lin said in her intro, he's not just an agent of his clients, he's also a friend and a guide...
What he's said to the other agents at his company since he started:
"Our agency does NOT represent books.
We represent authors and illustrators."
He's sharing stories, with great inspirational moments.
"If you're a writer, don't stop at book one. Or book two. Keep writing... If you're going to choose this very difficult profession, your job is to go ahead and write..."
Don't give up too easily. It may not be the first book you write that gets published.
His advice, if you're trying to break in and get published:
Try to get an agent
Get a critique group
Read as many books in your genre as you possibly can
Be open to editorial input
For illustrators: consider writing your own book, or maybe illustrating a picture book of a story in the public domain. (twice the royalties!) Like his advice to Jerry Pinkney, 2010 Caldecott Winner for "The Lion and the Mouse!"
Overall, for everyone:
"In order to proceed, you have to have a plan - you have to know where you're going."
-- Posted by Lee Wind