Jun 11

Ghostwriting Children’s Books – 5 Ways to Know if You’re Any Good

Chidlren's ghostwriterSome writers can at times wonder if they’re ‘good enough’. Are they fulfilling their clients’ expectations? They may occasionally doubt their writing skills and ability. I think it goes with the territory.

They may take on a project they’ve never done before. Yep, doubts surface.

They see peers getting credits from major magazines or getting book after book traditionally published. Yep doubts will undoubtable surface.

Hey, writers are human, right?

But what about ghostwriting. You’re not submitting traditionally yourself, so you don’t have the rejection or acceptance feedback.

So how do you know if you’re good at being a children’s ghostwriter or other type of ghostwriter?

Well, there are at least five to tell.

1. The proof is in the pudding, right?

This is a perfect analogy for whether you’re good at what you do.

One clear way to tell if you’re effective at what you do is by the reactions of your clients.

Are your clients unhappy? Are they satisfied? Are they pleased? Are they happy? Are they overjoyed? Are they thrilled to tears?

Now, not all clients may cry at the masterpiece you create, but you want every one of your clients to be ‘very happy to overjoyed’ at the very least.

You can tell if you’re successful by how your clients react to the finished product.

2. Do any of your clients come back (repeat clients)?

It’s true that because of the expense of having a book ghosted, not all clients can afford to hire-out more than one book. But, have you had any clients request a second project with you?

If you have, you can be assured you’re doing something right.

3. Do you have clients with a series?

This is kind of like #2 above, but it’s an even stronger indication that you’re producing the goods.

Clients who invest in a series with you believe in you and your ability. If they didn’t love what you created with Book One, they would never move forward in a series project. So, if you’re looking for a Ghostwriting Stamp of Approval, this is it.

4. Are you getting testimonials?

I’m adding this here, but it not necessarily a clear indication of your qualifications. The reason is most ghosting clients don’t want to share that they’ve hired a ghostwriter.

If you’re fortunate to get some testimonials, that’s fantastic. The reason is because it’s not only personal validation of your qualifications, it’s public validation.

Testimonials are also a great marketing tool. People are influenced by what others think of your work.

5. Have any of your clients traditionally published? Have they won awards?

This is the icing on the cake.

Have any of your clients submitted to traditional publishers and agents? If so, have they gotten a contract?

As a ghostwriter you cannot use this as a promotional tool, but it definitely is another personal stamp of approval.

So, if you’re wondering if you’ve got the stuff to be a children’s ghostwriter, use these five questions to put your mind at ease.

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Let's talk about your children's writing projectLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

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

Apr 30

Children’s Writing and Information Dump

Tips on writing for childrenAs a ghostwriter and editor, occasionally I get clients who give me a draft of a story that has information dump within the first few spreads of a picture book.

This is a no-no.

Information dump is when an author literally dumps a chunk of information for the reader to absorb.

Granted most new writers may not realize they’re hitting the reader with these big chunks of information. Or, the author may want to tell the reader what she thinks the reader should know, but doesn’t know how to weave the information into the story.

I think the problem is the ‘author’ wants to make sure the reader understands what’s going on. For example:

Billy and Joe had been best friends since Kindergarten. They played together every day and even had sleep overs. They were also on the same football team. Then Billy insulted Joe last year. After that, Joe didn’t want to be friends with Billy anymore. Now, it’s a new school year.

While this example isn’t too long, there are some info dumps that are paragraphs long, pages long, or in the case of picture books, spreads long.

Another possible reason for information dumping.

Another possibility is that the ‘author’ is writing the story for himself. He’s writing to see what he wants to see in the book. He’s not thinking about what a seven year old or a 10 year old will want . . . even expect in a book.

Whatever the reason, information dump at the beginning of a story leads to a very boring beginning. And, it delays the initial problem that the protagonist must overcome.

While this has touched on the beginning of a story so far, it’s not a good idea to dump clumps of information elsewhere within the story either.

Why information dumping isn’t a good idea.

Children, even adults, have short attention spans. Being told what went on is boring for the reader. She wants to see or hear what’s going on through action and dialogue. Information or backstory must be weaved into the story here and there.

For example, going back to Billy and Joe. Instead of telling the reader flat out in the beginning of the story why they’re not friends, bring it in through dialogue.

It was the first day of the new school year. Joe walked past Billy in the yard without looking at him or saying a word.

“Okay, enough already. I insulted you last year. Get over it already,” chided Billy.

This lets the reader know what’s happening without knocking him over the head or dumping clumps of information. It brings the reader into the action and conversation. It’s effective writing.

While you may not be able to get every bit of information into the story that you think should be there, it doesn’t matter. Your reader will read between the lines. .

So, think twice before dumping that information on your reader.

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Need Help With Your StoryLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

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

Apr 09

4 Writing Tips on Using Descriptions

Tips on writing descriptionsUsing descriptions can be a powerful writing tool. The most important thing to keep in mind is to use your imagination. Close your eyes and picture what your character is doing. Picture what the scene looks like then paint it with words.

Below are four tips to help you get a handle on writing descriptions.

1. You’ve got to engage your readers.

How do you do this? By showing them what’s going on.

Let the reader:

– Smell what the character is smelling.
– Hear what the character is hearing.
– See what the character sees.
– Feel what the character is touching.
– Taste what the character is tasting.

Let the reader feel like she’s there. Use your character’s senses to describe (show) what’s going on.

2. Use descriptions in action scenes.

Using an excerpt from my middle grade fantasy adventure Walking Through Walls, I could have said just said it was hot. But that wouldn’t show how hot it was for the protagonist, Wang.

The sun beat down on the field. Sweat poured from the back of his neck drenching the cotton shirt he wore. He hurled the bundles on a cart.

I used description to show the action scene. This helps engage the reader.

3. Use description to emphasis the scene.

While you should write tight, sometimes it’s powerful to use description to bring the reader into the scene. In the excerpt below, the protagonist of Walking Through Walls is on a path that could change his life forever:

Deep in thought Wang did not notice the black cat that crossed his path, or the black raven that swooped and almost landed on his head. He did not even notice the silver snake with the purple tail that slithered along beside him on the road. Wang only noticed that each step took him closer to the merchant’s home and the beginning of the road leading to his destiny.

I could have simply used a version of the last sentence to say he didn’t notice anything. But, this wouldn’t allow the reader to know what was going on around him – how absorbed he was in fulfilling his dream. It wouldn’t bring the reader into the scene.

In addition, the description used for that scene is brought up later in the story. So, it’s also helping move the story forward.

4. Don’t use description dumps.

While it’s essential to use descriptions in your writing, you don’t want to overdo it. And, you don’t want to give description dumps.

What this means is avoid going beyond what is needed to engage. Yes, authors did it years ago – they’d elaborate on descriptions for sometimes pages. And, I would think it gave the writer a sense of freedom to be able to describe in full what she was imagining – not having to worry about tight writing. But, it won’t fly today.

Today is about writing ‘lean and mean.’ It’s about thinking carefully about your word choices, your descriptions, and your character’s backstory. If you can say it effectively in two words rather than six, do it in two.

It’s about making sure everything thing in your story is moving the story forward. No sidetracking for a beautiful description. No sidetracking for over elaborating.

Weigh what will work and what is too much. Use balance in writing descriptions in your story.

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WANT TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S BOOK?

Being a writer, like being any kind of artist who creates something from nothing, is an amazing ability. It’s almost like magic. And, you are in control. You decide what to create. The only limit you have is the cap on your imagination.

Check out Fiction Writing for Children. This 180 page ebook  gives you all the basics of writing fiction for children, finding a publisher or agent, and marketing your books.

Writing Children's Fiction

Feb 26

The Front Matter – Before the Story Text Begins

Your book's front matterI get lots of questions from my clients as to what comes after the story is written.

While a lot of the questions are about illustrations, what’s been coming up more and more is about the pages that come before the story text begins. The pages before the story are called the front matter.

Just this week, someone asked me about a Dedication Page.

So, here is a list (in order of appearance) of the pages that will or may come before the first page of your story. Some examples are included.

1. Half title page – this is a page at the very beginning of the book that has ONLY the title of the book. It’s usually only used if pages are needed to thicken the book.

2. Frontispiece – this is a page that is an informative or decorative illustration that faces the book’s title page. It appears on the opposite page of the title page. This page is optional.

3. Title page – this is the page that lists the title, subtitle, author, and publisher. I may include the publisher’s location, year of publication, a description of the book, and either the cover illustration or other illustration.

4. Copyright page – this is the page that lists the copyright notice and the “All rights reserved” warning. It should also include the publisher’s name and address; printing details; the edition of the book; and the ISBN(s).

It may also include ordering information, your website URL, disclaimers, and the CIP Data Block from the Library of Congress.

In regard to the CIP Data Block, Kindlepreneur.com explains:

The Library of Congress issues a CIP data block to you. It is not something you can create for yourself. However, if you’re a self-publisher, you are not even eligible to have a CIP data issued to you by the Library of Congress.

You can, however, pay to have a P-CIP (Publisher’s Catalog-in-Publication) data block generated for you, if you truly desire. Having P-CIP data can make your book look more professional. It costs anywhere from $60-$100, and can be done by Quality Books, Inc. or CIPblock.com. (1)

5. Dedication – this is a page that explains the author’s source of inspiration and/or who she is dedication the book to. It can be a single name or it can be a paragraph or two. This page is optional.

6. Epigraph – this is a page that includes a quotation, sentence, or poem. It can face the Table of Contents or the first page of the text.

I’m currently working on a 10 book series that will have an epigraph in each book.

Epigraphs can also be used at the beginning of chapters, on the same page the chapter begins or on a separate page opposite the beginning of each chapter.

According to LiteraryDevices.com:

An epigraph can serve different purposes such as it can be used as a summary, introduction, an example, or an association with some famous literary works, so as to draw comparison or to generate a specific context to be presented in the piece. (2)

This page is optional.

7. Contents Page, also known as the Table of Contents – this page lists each section and/or chapters within the book. It helps the reader navigate the book in longer works, like middle grade and young adult stories.

You would not use a Contents Page in a picture book.

8. Foreword – this page has a short piece written by someone other than the author. Its purpose is to introduce the author and the book. It most often includes the writer’s name and signature.

Usually, the writer of the foreword is noteworthy.

This page is optional.

9. Preface – this page is written by the author and usually tells about how and why the book came to be and the process. It may also include what the book is about and why you think it’s important. This page is optional.

10. Acknowledgments – this page lists the people or entities the author is grateful to for help in the creation of the book. This page is optional.

11. Introduction – this page discusses the purpose and goals of the book. This page is optional.

12. Prologue – this page sets the scene for the fiction story. It can include backstory and should be told in the protagonist’s voice. This page is optional.

13. Second half title – this page helps set off or end an extensive front matter. As the name implies, it’s identical to the first half title page and is added before the beginning of the story text. It is used when needed.

Other pages in the front matter that you may find in some books are: List of Figures and List of Tables. But, for the majority of authors self-publishing children’s books they aren’t needed.

I just want to note here that most of the front matter isn’t necessary until after the story is written. And, if you have a picture book, it won’t be needed until after the illustrations are done.

You’ll need it when you’re ready to upload your book to sites like CreateSpace or when you’re ready to hand it over to them to upload it for publication for you.

That’s about it for the front matter of your book. The story itself is considered the ‘body of the book.’ When I get the time, I’ll write about the ‘back matter’ of your book.

Hope this is helpful in your self-publishing journey.

Sources:

(1) https://kindlepreneur.com/book-copyright-page-examples-ebook/
(2) https://literarydevices.net/epigraph/

Additional Sources:
https://wikipedia.com
https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2012/02/self-publishing-basics-how-to-organize-your-books-front-matter/
https://www.scribendi.com/advice/front_matter.en.html

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

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Need Help With Your StoryLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

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

Oct 09

10 Tips to Hiring With a Children’s Ghostwriter

10-tipshiringghostwriterBefore I get into the tips to working with a ghostwriter, let me explain what a ghostwriter is. A ghostwriter is simply a ‘writer for hire’ who will write your children’s book, article, website content, or other type of content you need to create and market your book.

S/he’ll take your idea, your notes, your outline, or your draft and turn it into a publishable story. A story that you’ll be proud to put your name on. And, if she knows the ropes, she’ll give you advice on what to do after the book is written.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the 10 tips to working with one.

1. Research ghostwriters before jumping on board with one.

Do a Google search for ‘children’s ghostwriters’ and see how s/he ranks in the search engines.

2. Visit the website of the person you’re interested in working with.

How does it look? Does the site quickly convey that it’s about writing for children? Is it neat and easy to navigate (get from page to page)?

A couple of other things to check for on the website is whether or not it’s current. Check the blog and see if it’s posted to on a regular basis.

You’ll also want to check out the testimonials page. Are there clients who are recommending and/or praising the ghostwriter?

The website is important. I’ve had clients base their decision to hire me just by visiting my website.

3. What about qualifications?

Does the writer’s About Page let you know that s/he is qualified?

One side note here: While some ghostwriters may have lots of their own books published, I for one have so many clients I don’t have the time to keep up with my own books. I have two published and a children’s picture book series in contract. I’ve been wanting to write a sequel to Walking Through Walls (a middle-grade fantasy adventure), but just don’t have the time.

So, when looking at this particular qualification, keep this in mind for whoever you’re thinking of going with.

Look at the groups their associated with or have memberships to. Look at any other distinguishable events or awards.

4. Make sure the ghostwriter is accessible.

When you’re on the writer’s website, make sure there is an email address and phone number, so you can easily communicate.

5. Does s/he offer a free consultation?

Some people want that personalized experience – not just an email. I’ve had clients who simply wanted to hear my voice to make sure it was a real person they were dealing with. I’ve even had a couple of people who wanted a Skype consultation. But, aside from this, if you like, ask for a free consultation to discuss your project.

Most ghostwriters will be happy to talk with you about your project. Just please keep in mind that they may keep it short, maybe 10-15 minutes. So, have your questions ready before the phone call. And, have a clear idea of what you want.

6. Not a talker? Then contact the writer by email.

Send the ghostwriter a brief, but clear email on what you’d like and how s/he can help you.

7. The NDA (nondisclosure agreement).

The NDA is simply a confidentiality agreement. It protects your idea. The writer states that s/he will not use your idea for any purpose or reason.

If you’re dealing with a reputable ghostwriter this isn’t really necessary – professional ghostwriters would never disclose any information you divulge. But, for peace-of-mind, ask for one if you’d feel better.

Regarding my clients, I’d say half want one and the other half could care less.

8. About a Freelance Writing Agreement.

Most freelance writers, if not all, have a standard freelance writing agreement for their clients. It is tweaked for each individual project for those particulars, but the basic information is the same.

The agreement may include:

• Terms: What the client wants done and what the writer will do.
• The relationship of the parties.
• The time frame for the completion of the project.
• Compensation.
• An NDA.
• Termination information.

9. Does the ghostwriter offer payment options?

This is important. Most writers will offer payment options and scheduling.

For example: For picture books, I have a three-payment schedule. For chapter books and middle-grade, the number of payments depends on the length of the book and time frame involved.

10. Is the ghostwriter easy to work with?

This you won’t really know until you start working with one. But, often the testimonials will give you an indication of how they work.

But, even before you hire one, you can have some indication by:

• Did s/he answer all your questions?
• Did s/he get back to you promptly?
• Is s/he friendly and approachable?
• Does s/he sound knowledgeable?

Sometimes, just speaking with someone can let you know if s/he is the ghostwriter you’d like to work with.

11. Yep – a bonus tip.

Find out who’ll actually be writing your book. Does the site farm out their writing projects or use subcontractors? Is it a staff of writers? This is not to say the latter is bad, but it’s good to know who you’ll be working with.

So, there you have it, 10 11 tips to getting started with a children’s ghostwriter. I hope it’s helpful in choosing one that you’ll feel comfortable with.

If you’re thinking of hiring a children’s ghostwriter and have questions or would like to schedule a free 15 minute consultation to discuss your project, give me a call at 347—834—6700.

Or, shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice—@gmail.com

I look forward to hearing from you.

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Oct 02

Fiction Writing – 5 Top No-Nos

Fiction writing mistakes to avoid.Fiction writers who are good at what they do, enjoy what they do. They like creating something from nothing . . . well from an idea. They enjoy the craft and the process.

But, with that said, there are 5 top mistakes these writers make.

1. You make the beginning of your story all roses.

While we’d all love to live in a peaceful, happy land, readers need something to sink their teeth into, especially at the beginning of the story.

The beginning of your story is the hook. It’s where you GRAB the reader and make her have to turn the page and want to know what’s going to happen to the protagonist.

Here are a couple of examples of ‘hooking’ beginnings:

“I have noticed that teachers get exciting confused with boring a lot. But when my teacher said, ‘Class, we have an exciting project to talk about,’ I listened away.”
“The Talented Clementine” by Sara Pennypacker.

“My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog.”
“Because of Winn-Dixie” by Kate DiCamillo

These two examples of children’s writing give you a good idea of what it takes to ‘hook’ the reader.

2. The dialog is weak, fluffy.

Having weak dialog can kill your story. You need your characters to have passion . . . to have life.

You want dialog that is strong and tight. You want the emotion (the conflict, the tension, the passion) to come through the words. And, you want to say it in as few words and as realistically as possible.

You want the reader to feel what the character is feeling at that moment.

If Bob is angry in the story, show it through his dialog:

“WHAT! Who said you could take that?!”
“Hey! What are you doing?!”
“No! You can’t. Now get lost.”
“Get your hands off of me!”

The tight, strong dialog goes for exchanges also:

“Hey! What are you doing?!” Bob yelled.

Gia spun around. “Oh, ugh, nothing.” Her eyes darted to the door then back to Bob.

3. The story is predictable.

You’ve got to have some surprises in the story. If you don’t, it will make for a rather dull, predictable story.

For this aspect of your story, think questions.

– Why is the character in that situation?
– How did he get there?
– What must she be feeling, seeing?
– How can see get out of it?
– What might happen next?

Try to come up with four or five options as to what might happen next.

In an article at Writer’s Digest, the author advises to “Close your eyes and watch your scene unfold. Let the characters improvise. What are some outlandish things that could result? If something looks interesting, find a way to justify it.” (1)

Let your imagination run wild.

4. Your characters are one-dimensional.

For readers to become engaged in a story, they have to develop a connection with the protagonist and other characters. In order for this to happen, the characters must be multi-dimensional.

Characters need to be believable and unique. You don’t want them to be predictable or a stereotype.

According to “Breathing Life into Your Characters” by Rachel Ballon, Ph.D., “The essential components for creating successful characters with emotional and psychological depth—feelings, passion, desires, psychology, and vision—reside within [the writer].”

So, think about it. What conditions or characteristics does your character have?

– Does he have a personality disorder?
– Does he have phobias?
– Is she dysfunctional?
– Is she a troublemaker or bully?
– Is he anxious?
– Does she have an eating disorder?
– Is she fearful?
– Is she a risk taker, fearless?

And, keep in mind that the more stressful an ‘inciting incident’ or event, the more reaction and/or adjustment there will be.

For example: If a child lost a pet, it wouldn’t be as severe as losing a parent.
If a woman became separated from her husband, it wouldn’t be as severe as having her husband suddenly die.

So, using your experiences and innate characteristics, along with research, you can create multi-faceted characters.

5. You dump information into the story.

This is more of a mistake that new writers may make. I had a client who created the entire first paragraph of her middle-grade story with ‘information dump.’

She had the protagonist talking to a stuffed animal, in a pretend interview. She gave backstory and other details she wanted to convey to the reader through the interview. She didn’t realize that this information needed to be layered or weaved into the story, not dumped in one big truck load.

You might also use a prologue to give backstory.

While there are other things to watch for in fiction writing, these are five of the top no-nos.

Reference:
(1) 5 Biggest Fiction Writing Mistakes and Fixes

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Jul 31

Writing – Trimming The Fat

Writing tips on writing tightGuest Post by Penny Lockwood (Ehrenkranz)

If you check market resources both for printed and on-line publications [picture books], you’ll find a number whose word limit is below 1,000 words. How do you trim the fat from your manuscript to fit within the tight confines of those word limits?

First, check your manuscript for “weak” modifiers. These are the words which writers hoping to strengthen another word. The two most commonly used words are “very” and “really.” Removing these words from your sentences will give them more impact.

Other weak, modifying words to watch for are: some, just, so, such, even, certainly, definitely, exactly, and that (when overused).

Second, check your manuscript for “wishy-washy” words. You’ll recognize them by their lack of clear definition. Words which fall into this category are: somewhat, sort of, rather, a little, perhaps, seem, and words with “ish” on the end, such as “shortish,” “tallish,” and “brownish.”

In an effort to create realistic dialogue, some writers insert “well” and “oh” into their sentences. Be sure to eliminate these from your manuscript. If a writer were to capture true dialogue, there would be pages and pages of “um,” “uh,” “well,” and “er.” Fortunately, as writers, that’s not our job. We need to create an illusion of reality, not play back word-for-word a “real” conversation. An occasional spattering of the interjections “oh,” “well,” and “um,” is sufficient.

Although adjectives and adverbs have a clear place in our writing, there isn’t an adjective or adverb that can strengthen a weak noun or verb. If you’re looking for variety in your writing, use a thesaurus instead. Go through your manuscript and highlight where you’ve used these modifiers to fatten up and strengthen ineffective words. Go back to the highlighted areas and replace those weak words with strong, descriptive nouns and verbs.

It’s not easy to trim the fat whether eliminating those yummy chocolate truffles from our diets or cutting out the weak modifiers, “wishy-washy” words, extra “wells,” “ums,” “ers,” and “ohs” from our dialogues, and replacing adjectives and adverbs with strong nouns and verbs. But if we want our human body or our body of work to be fit and desirable, we must trim the fat to achieve tight, firm writing or a lean physique.

While working on my latest release Ghostly Visions, I had a lot of help from my editors in trimming back the “fat.” This middle grade novel is comprised of two books published as one: Ghost for Rent and Ghost for Lunch.

Children's middle grade book

In Ghost for Rent, Wendy Wiles attracts ghosts when her parents separate and she, her brother, and mother move into a haunted house. The story begins in Portland, Oregon and quickly moves to small town, Scappoose, Oregon. Miserable at leaving her friends and beloved Portland behind, Wendy meets her neighbor Jennifer who tells her the house Wendy’s mom rented is haunted. After two of them appear to Wendy, the girls find themselves tracking down the mystery of who the ghosts are and why they “live” in the Wiles’ home.

In Ghost for Lunch, Wendy’s friend, Jennifer, moves away, leaving Wendy sad until new neighbors and their restaurant in St. Helens bring ghosts back into Wendy’s life. She, her brother, and their new friend discover the two cases are connected. Once again, the young sleuths use clues and lots of brainstorming to figure out who is haunting the restaurant.

While on the surface, these two stories appear to be about ghosts and the mystery of solving them, they are also about the importance of family and friends and working together to solve a problem.

Ghostly Visions is available direct from the publisher 4RV Publishing LLC for $15.99 including shipping and handling. It can also be ordered from your local bookstore with the following ISBN numbers: ISBN-10: 0982642326, ISBN-13: 978-0982642320, or through Amazon.

About the Author

Author of Ghostly VisionsPenny Lockwood (Ehrenkranz) has published over 100 articles, 75 stories, a chapbook, and her stories have been included in two anthologies. She writes for both adults and children. Her fiction has appeared in numerous genre and children’s publications, and non fiction work has appeared in a variety of writing, parenting, and young adult print magazines and on line publications. She is a former editor for MuseItUp Publishing, 4RV Publishing, and Damnation Books. Visit her web site at http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.yolasite.com and her writing blog at http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com/.

4RV Publishing has joined her two middle grade novels (Ghost for Rent and Ghost for Lunch) as Ghostly Visions. She recently released Boo’s Bad Day with 4RV Publishing and has one other children’s picture book under contract with them: Many Colored Coats. She has three romances published by MuseItUp Publishing: Love Delivery, Lady in Waiting, and Mirror, Mirror. Her short story collection, A Past and A Future, is available through Alban Lake Publishing and Smashwords.

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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, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

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

May 29

Want to Self-Publish a Rhyming Children’s Book? Read This First

Children's writing and rhyming.As a ghostwriter I deal with lots of new ‘authors.’ One scenario I come across now and then is when someone sends me a story with rhyme in it.

When this happens, it’s never done right and it’s my job to guide these authors to the path of ‘doing it right.’

A recent manuscript I received had rhyming here and there throughout the story. And, some of the rhyming words were forced. What this means is to make two words rhyme the sentence is put together awkwardly (unnaturally) or one of the rhyming words is used unnaturally just to make it rhyme.

Two examples of awkward rhyme:

Whenever I go to the park,
I run around and sing like a lark.

The forced rhyme below is from The Turtles’ “Happy Together” (1967):
“So happy together. And how is the weather?”

Notice the unnatural way these sentences sound.  They don’t make sense. It’s easy to see that they’re put together simply to rhyme the last two words. This causes the reader to pause. Pausing is never a good thing, especially in children’s books.

One of the important things that happens when a story’s rhyme is off is it causes the reader to pause. It can even cause confusion. When a child gets the rhyme hook, she will be anticipating that rhythm and pattern throughout the story. At the first spot when it’s not there, you’ve caused a PAUSE. And, if you’ve got rhyme awkwardly here and there, you’ve lost the focus of the story. You’ve lost the message you were trying to convey.

You never-ever want to cause a pause or confusion in a story, especially a children’s story.

But, if you REALLY want to rhyme.

Below is a slightly more natural way to do this:

“Now it’s time to close your eyes my dear. (8 syllables)
Beside you lies your favorite bear.” (8 syllables if you if you say favorite as fav-rite)
(From “Day’s End Lullaby.”)

Keep in mind that even this verse has its problems. For one thing, ‘favorite’ is used with two syllables in that verse: fav rit. Technically, ‘favorite’ has three syllables: fav or ite.

So, you can see that while getting two words to rhyme isn’t that difficult, there’s lots more involved in rhyming ‘right.’

The bare-bottom elements of children’s rhyme:

•    Each sentence needs to be relevant to the story and move the story forward.
•    There needs to be a continuing rhythm or beat to the sentences. This has to do with the stressed and unstressed syllables of each word used.
•    There needs to be a pattern throughout the story.
•    It should be written without forcing words – without using unnatural sounding sentences or unnatural meanings.
•    And, it should all be wrapped up in a great story.

Bottom line.

Taking all this into account, if you’re thinking of writing a rhyming children’s book, read lots and lots of traditionally published rhyming books. And, read those from the major publishers. Analyze how they’re written. Break them down.

You might even take an offline or online course on rhyming for children.

You can also check out Dori Chaconas’ website. She has an example of a syllable template you can use. Find it at: Icing the Cake (it’s at the bottom of the page).

Rhyming can be fun and kids LOVE it, but please take care to do it right.

Sources:
http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop-shop/6214232/20-most-forced-rhymes-music-ariana-grande-break-free
http://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-rhyme.html

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

The Book Summary – Five Must-Know Components
Finding Age Appropriate Words When Writing For Children
Ingredients for a Perfect Picture Book

Need Help With Your Story

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

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.

May 08

The 3 Levels of Picture Books

Children's picture books have three purposes..Children’s picture books have 3 levels or purposes in regard to the reader and purchaser. Think of it as the structure of a house: there’s a basement, a first floor, and often an upper floor.

Level 1: The basement, or Surface Level, is geared toward the youngest reader (or listener if too young to read). This child is able to understand what’s going on. He is engaged by the story. Using a wonderful children’s picture book, Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina, the child will think it’s funny that monkeys take the peddler’s caps, put them on their heads and won’t take them off.

Level 2: The first floor, or the Underlying Meaning Level, is for the older children who can understand on a deeper level. At this age, they can realize danger, anger, and a cause and effect scenario. Again, using Caps for Sale, the children should be able to understand that the monkeys are mimicking everything the peddler does, but the peddler doesn’t realize what they’re doing. With this age child, he/she may yell out, “They’re doing what you do!” in an effort to help the peddler.

Level 3: The upper floor, or the Take Away Level, is the value the book holds for the purchaser, usually the parent, grandparent, or teacher. The adult reading the book to the child understands the meaning of the story, what value can be taken away by children. In the case of Caps for Sale, the young child is engaged and understands the monkeys took the peddler’s caps and wouldn’t give them back. The older child is engaged and understands that the peddler is causing the monkeys to act as they are. The value that might be taken away is that our actions create reactions.

I just want to point out that Caps for Sale was first copyrighted in 1940 and renewed in 1967, so there is a great deal of telling in the story. Back then, writing for children used a different structure. The stories were not geared toward today’s short attention span and need for action. But, some stories, such as this one, hold up even through change.

Keep in mind though, in today’s children’s market a writer must take into account that a child is bombarded with media and entertainment. Children’s publishers want showing rather than telling. They also want action right from the beginning of the story. In today’s market it’s the writer’s job to grab the reader quickly.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Creating Conflict in Your Story
Imagery and Your Story
10 Rules for Writing Children’s Stories  

Need Help With Your Story

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

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