Jan 29

3 Steps to Querying Publishers and Agents

Writing for children.You’ve been slaving for months, maybe years, on your manuscript. You’ve read about belonging to a critique group to help you hone your work and took the advice to heart. You have also listened to the advice about submitting your manuscript to an editor after your critique group is done with it, and after you’ve meticulously self-edited it. Now, you’re ready to begin submissions.

While some authors choose to send queries to a publisher or an agent, there is no reason to choose, send queries off to both. But, there are a few steps you need to be aware of before you actually start submitting:

1. First Impressions

Professionalism, professionalism, professionalism. Yes, be professional. As with any business correspondence, do not use colored stationary, colored text, elaborate font, scented paper or envelope, or any other unprofessional features. You get one shot at making a first impression; don’t blow it on silly additions. And, don’t try to be cute or send a gift. Again, be professional.

2. Research

So, you understand you need to appear professional, but you also need to send your query to the right recipients. You can have the most professional looking query letter, but if you send a query to a romance publisher and you have written a children’s picture book, guess what? You’ll be out of luck.

Research for publishers and agents who work within the genre you write. There are services, such as WritersMarket (http://www.writersmarket.com/) that provide information on where and how to sell your articles or manuscripts. While these services may charge for the service, it is a worthwhile investment.

There are also books that offer the same information, such as Writer’s Market, and Children’s Writers and Illustrator’s Market. If you choose this option, you will need to get the new versions each year. Agents and publishers are changing staff all the time, new companies are popping up and others are closing down, you will need up-to-date information for your query submissions.

3. Content

In the February 2011 issue of the Writer, agent Betsy Lerner explained, “Editors and agents alike enjoy nothing more than being startled awake by a witty or moving letter.” They want to see something special and unique; this is where your pitch comes in.

While you may have taken heed and had your manuscript critiqued and looked at by an editor, you can do the same with your query letter.

You want to give the impression that you are intelligent, so your query letter must reflect that. Get it in the best shape possible, with a great hook, and then send it off to be critiqued.

Publishers and agents receive more queries than they can comfortably handle, so don’t give them a reason to simply reject yours because of unprofessionalism. Give your query and manuscript every possible opportunity for success.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Book Marketing – The Foundation
How to Write a Story
Traditional Publishing and the Author Platform – Be Realistic

Jul 24

Writing a Book – To Publish Traditionally or Self-Publish

Writing a book - Should you self-publish or traditionally publish?

Whether to publish traditionally or self-publish is the question I get most from my ghosting clients. Most new to the writing arena don’t understand what’s involved with either path. This article will helpfully shed some light on the topic.

Traditional Publishing

With traditional publishing, you submit your EDITED manuscript to publishing houses and/or literary agents.

To submit to publishers means finding ones that accept submissions in your genre. To do this, you’ll need to write a query letter. It’s the query letter that you first submit. And, until you find a publisher who’s interested in your manuscript, you have to keep submitting.

It’s the same process for both publishers and literary agents.

There’s no way to determine how long it can take to find a publisher or agent who will offer you a contract. It could happen quickly (not the norm) or it can take a year, two years, or more. There are no guarantees it will happen.

As an example, it took Chicken Soup for the Soul 144 rejections before finally getting a publishing contract. And, they put a lot of time and effort into their publishing quest.

The traditional process takes perseverance and commitment. You need to research publishers and agents. For this process, I recommend getting “Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Marketing [current year].” It has hundreds of listings.

If you’re not a children’s author, you can use “Writer’s Market [current year].”

Assuming you do get a contract, it usually takes about two years before your book will actually be available for sale.

Again, there are no guarantees with the traditional publishing route.

But, with all that said, there is still a level of ‘status’ and credibility with books that are traditionally published. And, you never know if you’ll get a contract quicker than expected. An added bonus if you’re writing a children’s picture book, you won’t have to find an illustrator or pay for illustrations and a book cover.

Self-Publishing

With self-publishing you’re in control.

You write your story or hire a ghostwriter to write it for you. Just make sure the story is edited and proofed before moving onto the next step.

Once that’s done, you’re off to find an illustrator – this is if you’re creating a picture book or even a chapter book / middle grade that will include some illustrations, even if just black and white.

You can find children’s book illustrators at:

http://fiverr.com
http://upwork.com
http://www.childrensillustrators.com
http://blueberryillustrations.com (look for children’s book illustrations)

You can also do an online search.

While you can find some ‘cheap’ illustrators out there, be sure of their skills. Be sure they understand what you’re looking for. And, be sure they proof their own work. You MUST also check the illustrations to the text – make sure the illustrations are relevant to the content on that page. You’ll also need to check for accuracy and consistency within the illustrations.

I’ve coordinated illustrations to text for clients and have found a number of errors from missing parts of feet to inconsistent furnishings from scene to scene.

After you have the illustrations and text combined, you will need to prepare/format and upload the book to publish it. For this, you can use services like Kindle KDP (for ebooks on Amazon, but they are now introducing paperback options) or CreateSpace (for print book to Amazon).

For non-Amazon distribution, you can go with IngramSpark for print books or Draft2Digital for ebooks.

Just be aware that with these services, you’ll need to do the work yourself (format and upload). If this intimidates you, you can hire someone on http://fiverr.com or http://upwork.com to format and upload your book.

If the thought of having to find someone to format and upload your work is still too intimidating, you can simply use a service like Smashwords.com (for ebooks only)  or BookBaby.com, GoldenBoxBooks, or DogEarPublishing.net for help in this area. They offer packages.

Warning: Services that offer packages in addition to formatting and uploading your book for publishing will probably offer lots of other services: cover design, editing, illustrations, and so on. They can be expensive and I’m not sure of the quality of, say their editing services. So, have the book already to go. All you should need them for is actual publishing and distribution.

Summing it Up

So, whether to self-publish or go the traditional route depends on your time frame, finances, and commitment to submitting your work. And, if you choose the traditional path, you’ll need to have patience and perseverance.

Reference:
https://janefriedman.com/self-publish-your-book/

MORE WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Children’s Writing and Publishing Process – The Traditional Path
Self-Publishing: 3 Tips to Help You Avoid the ‘I Want It Now Syndrome’
Striving to Be a Better Writer by Writing More

Need Help With Your Story

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter and rewriter. I can turn you story into a publishable book you’ll be proud to be author of.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Nov 08

Children’s Writing and Publishing Jargon – 11 of the Basics

Writing and publishing jargon for children's writersThe writing and publishing arena have a number of words specific to the industry, its lingo or jargon. Below are some of the most important ones for the children’s author.

1. Manuscript (MS)

This is what your draft is called once it’s complete and ready for submission.

2. Synopsis

This is a short summary of the manuscript. It’s best to try to keep it to one page.

3. Proposal

The proposal is what you’ll send an editor or agent to pitch a nonfiction book. It should be detailed and include:

-A ‘hook’ cover letter
-Table of contents
-A market analysis (why the book will be successful based on marketing aspects)
-Author bio and platform
-Outline (brief summary of each chapter)
-Completed sample chapters (submit the number of chapters the guidelines require)

4. Query

This is a one-page letter to an editor or agent explaining what your manuscript is about. It should also include a bit on who you are and what your qualifications (experiences) are for writing this particular story (if there are any). You should also include a brief paragraph on how you intend to help market the book.

For more on writing and sending queries, check out:
Be Specific and Professional When Submitting Queries

Submitting Manuscript Queries – Be Specific and Professional

5. Sample Chapters

These chapters should be completed and used for book proposal. For fiction work, if you an editor of agent and she is interested, she may request sample chapters. These chapters should be first ones in the story.

For nonfiction work, you can choose the chapters you feel best represent the story.

6. Platform

Your author platform is your online presence, your visibility and ability to market and sell your book. Your platform allows you to bring website traffic (visitors) to your site, build your perceived authority / expertise, and develop a relationship with readers. This includes having a social media presence also. A platform is a must for every writer.

If you need help building your platform or bring it to the next level, check out:
Give Your Author/Writer Business a Boost with Inbound Marketing

7. Picture book (PB)

These books range from bedtime stories to ages 7 and 8. They have simple stories with one protagonist (main character). The story is told from the protagonist’s POV (point of view).

8. Easy (early) readers

These are the first ‘chapter stories’ for the beginning reader, aged around 6-8, or younger. These stories are usually between 500 and 1,500 words with illustrations here and there throughout. The story line is still kept simple and should still have only the protagonist’s POV.

9. Chapter books

These books are usually for ages 7-9, but can range from 6-12. The word count is boosted to 5,000 to under 15,000 words. Since the reader is developing her reading skills, the vocabulary, sentence structure, and story line is broadened.

10. Middle grade (MG)

These books usually cover ages 9-12. The can include more than one POV and have more complicated story lines. The word count varies. An average guideline is 20,000 (for younger middle grade) to 35,000 (for upper middle grade).

11. Young adult (YA)

This genre encompasses the twelve to sixteen and up age group. YAs can be edgy; plots and characters can be complex and serious issues addressed.

For a more detailed breakdown of children’s genres, go to:
Writing Children’s Books: Genre Differences

12. Draft

I included this additional term because some beginning writers wonder what the difference is between a draft and a manuscript.

According to Cambridge Dictionary, a draft is “a piece of writing or drawing that is done early in the development of a work to help prepare it in its final form.”

So, a draft is what you initially create and work on until it’s polished into the final manuscript.

References:
October 2014 of Writer’s Digest, “Industry Lingo” on page 22.
http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/the-8-essential-elements-of-a-nonfiction-book-proposal

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Plot and Your Story – Four Formats
Make Your Children’s Writing Website Focused – 3 Must-Haves, 6 Tips
How Do You Make a Good Story Worth of Getting Past the Gatekeeper

Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at your idea, outline, or draft. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter and rewriter. I can turn you story into a publishable book you’ll be proud to be author of.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line)

Feb 22

Is Your Manuscript Ready for Submission?

BS ChecklistWriting is a personal experience. Each writer faces his or her own obstacles and processes. But, one common aspect of writing is it always starts with an idea. You may take that idea and turn it into an outline. You then take your outline and sprinkle it with letters and words and watch it grow. Words turn into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into chapters. The journey can take months and even years. But, the love of writing, the love of your story, and the hope of publication keep you dedicated.

Then, the day finally arrives. Your manuscript is complete. The envelopes are ready. All you have to do is submit, submit, and submit again. But, hold on a minute. Have you gone over all the necessary steps to ensure your manuscript is actually ready to be submitted to a publisher or agent?

The writing journey can take months and even years. But, the love of writing, the love of your story, and the hope of publication keep you dedicated.

Time passes, and finally your manuscript is complete. The envelopes are ready. All you have to do is submit, submit, and submit again. But, hold on a minute. Have you gone over all the necessary steps to ensure your manuscript is actually ready to be submitted to a publisher or agent?

There are eight steps that every writer, especially those new to the business of writing, should follow before submitting a manuscript.

1. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Then self-edit your story until it’s the best you can do.

2. Make sure you belong to a critique group in your genre. Submit your ms for critique.

3. Revise your story again taking into account the critiques you received. Here you want to use common sense in regard to which critiques you listen to. If all your critique group members tell you a particular section of your children’s story is age inappropriate, listen. If one member tells you he/she doesn’t like the protagonist’s name, use your own discretion.

4. Resubmit the manuscript to the critique group again. See if you’ve revised or removed all the problem areas.

5. Proofread and self-edit the manuscript until you think it’s perfect.

6. Print the manuscript and check it again. You’ll be surprised at the different types of errors that will be found in this format. You should use a colored pen or pencil for these corrections so they’ll be easy to spot later on.

7. Now, it’s time for the final corrections. Give it another go over.

8. Have your manuscript professionally edited.

If you’re questioning why you need to have your manuscript professionally edited after going to the trouble of having it critiqued and worked on it meticulously and endlessly, the answer is simple: An author and a critique group are not a match for the expert eyes of a professional editor.

Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself:
• Did you and your critique group catch all the punctuation errors?
• How about knowing when or if it is permissible to use quotation marks outside of dialogue?
• Do you know about the Find function on your word program to check for over used words, such as was and very.
• What about ellipsis dots, or the over use of adjectives and adverbs – got a grasp on them?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Isn’t it understandable why it’s important to take that extra step, and yes, expense, to have your manuscript edited. If you’re undecided, ask the professional writers you know if they recommend it. You can also ask if they could recommend a qualified and affordable editor.

The powers that be, editors, agents, reviewers, and publishers, all know the difference between a professionally edited manuscript and one that is not. Every house needs a solid foundation, right? Getting your manuscript professional edited is the same thing – it will provide a solid foundation. The number of authors seeking publishers and/or agents is staggering. Yet, the number of publishers and agents is limited. Give your manuscript every advantage possible. One of those advantages is having it professionally edited. It can be the deciding factor in whether your manuscript makes it to the editor’s ‘to read’ pile or the trash pile.

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Need Help With Your StoryWhether you need rewriting or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box.

Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your book in publishable shape today!

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