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.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

How Do You Make a Good Story Worthy of Getting Past the Gatekeeper?
Focus, Determination, and Perseverance = Writing Success
Writing a Fiction Story – Walking Through Walls Backstory  

Jul 10

Writing with Clarity

Writing needs clarity.

Writing with clarity can be a difficult aspect of writing. There isn’t a GPS for clarity. And, no matter how clear we think we are conveying a particular sentence, paragraph, or theme, we may not be able to see that we’ve missed the clarity mark.

How does this happen?

Missing the clarity mark may happen even if you have clearness of thought; if that clearness of thought or intent doesn’t translate onto paper, you’ve missed the mark.

As the author, we know what we’re thinking, what motives are involved, what we assume the reader should be seeing, or understanding—this knowledge may cloud our perception of what we are actually conveying. This clarity cloud can at times create a gap between what we think we’re saying and what we actually say. This happens because we are too close to our own writing.

Think of a color. Now, think of a very specific hue or shade within that color. Now, try to write what you see or explain it.

This is what can happen with our story. We can see what’s unfolding clear as day, the scene, the characters . . . the intent. But, our vision may not translate with clarity onto paper. We may think it has because of our preconception, but that doesn’t mean it actually has.

An example of this is a children’s picture book I reviewed. The content and illustrations were well done, but there was one problem. The story ultimately was about the main character having to go through a metamorphosis in order to be accepted by others. This is what a reader, a child, might take away from the story. While the story had a number of good points, this one flaw was problematic. The authors knew what they intended, but that intent didn’t show through. And, because they were so sure of their intent, they couldn’t see that the take away value of the story could be anything but what they intended.

Fortunately, there is help in this area: a critique group. Every writer who is writing a manuscript should belong to a critique group. Having three, six, or ten other writers, who write in the same genre, will help you find many of the pitfalls in your story. They are the unknowing audience. They have no perceived conception of your story, so they will be able to see where it goes astray and where it lacks clarity.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Writing Rhyme in Children’s Stories
The Writing Elements Mix – Is There a Right Balance?
Getting to Know Your Characters

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 your 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

This article was originally published by Karen Cioffi at:
http://www.karencioffiwritingandmarketing.com/2010/11/writing-with-clarity.html

Jul 03

Rhyme in Children’s Stories – It’s Not Always a Fit

It's not always a fit.Rhyming, when done right, is a wonderful way to engage children. Children, as soon as they’re able, love to rhyme words . . . and this can begin as early as two-years-old: cat-hat, mouse-house. But, to write a rhyming story . . . a well written rhyming story . . . is difficult; you need a good story, rhyme, rhythm/beat, meter, stresses, and more—all this in addition to the already unique rules and tricks in writing for children. And, some writers just don’t have that innate ability to do rhyme well. But, it can be learned.

According to Delia Marshall Turner, Ph.D., the elements of poetry are: voice; stanza; sound; rhythm; figures of speech; and form.

Voice (the speaker)
Stanza (the format of lines grouped together)
Sound (rhyme and other patterns)
Rhythm (the beat and meter – the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables)
Figures of Speech (types of figurative language)
Form (the type of poem, its design)

Along with this there is perfect rhyme, and approximate rhyme:

Perfect rhyme: tie/lie; stay/day
Approximate rhyme: top/cope; comb/tomb

And, there are many more bits and pieces that go into writing poetry/ rhyme. But, the foundation that holds your rhyming story all together is the story itself—you need a good story, especially when writing for children.

Another great source of rhyming information is the article, “To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme” by Dori Chaconas, in the Writer Magazine, October 2001: “You may write in perfect rhyme, with perfect rhythm, but if your piece lacks the elements of a good story, your efforts will be all fluff without substance. I like to think of story as the key element, and if the story is solid, and conducive to rhyme, the rhyme will then enhance the story.”

This is a wonderful explanation because it mentions “if the story is solid, and conducive to rhyme.” This means that not all stories will work in rhyme, and the writer needs to know whether his will or will not.

So, if you’re interested in writing in rhyme, there are a number of sites and articles online that can help, there are also books available, and classes you can take. Do a Google search for the tools that are right for you.

Two great places to start your search is at:
http://www.underdown.org/mf-rhyme-and-meter.htm
http://www.writingrhymeandmeter.com/

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Striving to Be a Better Writer by Writing More
Book Marketing – You’ve Gotta Have a Blog
Writing, Submissions, and Working with Editors

Need help with your story?

Whether you need help with ghostwriting, rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s 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 idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable and marketable story today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

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Jun 05

The Path to Writing Success – Focus, Determination, and Perseverance

Writing Path to SuccessFocus, determination, and perseverance are essential to just about every aspect of your life. Each characteristic is unique and together create a powerful synergy.

Focus is one’s ability to concentrate exclusively on a particular thing through effort or attention.

Determination is an unchanging intention to achieve a goal or desired end.

Perseverance takes determination a step beyond by using steady and ongoing actions over a long period of time to ensure its intention is accomplished. It continues on through ups and downs.

These elements combined with positive thinking and projection can be an unstoppable force.

I’m a huge fan of positive thinking and projection. I believe our mind has a great influence over our well-being and the direction our life can take. Granted, it’s not always easy to harness that influence, but there is enough content out there, including The Secret, to at least strive to think positive and project.

For example, Jack Canfield and co-creator Mark Victor Hansen, of Chicken Soup for the Soul, were rejected 144 times from publishers. Finally, in 1993, their book was accepted. Since they were in debt and couldn’t afford a publicist, they did their own promotion. In 1995, they won the Abby Award and the Southern California Publicist Award.

In a teleconference I attended with Jack Canfield as the speaker, he said he and his co-author created vision boards of what they wanted. They even took a copy of the New York Times Best Selling Page, whited out the #1 spot, and replaced it with Chicken Soup for the Soul. They put copies of it everywhere, even in the toilet. They had focus, determination, perseverance, and they envisioned and projected success. The rest is history.

On a much smaller scale, my daughter Robyn, practices the philosophy of The Secret. For ten years she dreamed of being in the audience of the Oprah show. She actually got tickets twice, but for one reason or another she was unable to attend. It didn’t stop her though; she persevered and kept trying. She knew one day she’d accomplish her goal and she did. She attended O’s 10 Anniversary celebration in New York City.

She even got her picture taken. You can check it out at (she’s on the right):
http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Photos-from-O-Magazines-Live-Your-Best-Life-Weekend/5#slide

So, what has this to do with you as a writer? Plenty.

The elements for obtaining your goals are the same whether for business, marketing, life, or writing. Just about every writer has heard the adage: it’s not necessarily the best writers who succeed, it’s the writers who persevere.

Be focused and determined on your writing goals. Have a ‘success’ mindset. This means to project success, along with taking all the necessary steps to becoming a successful and effective writer. And, don’t let rejection stop you – persevere.

To reinforce the need for perseverance, here’s a great article from LitHub that lists a number of other famous authors who had their share of rejection: The Most Rejected Books of All Time

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

4 Realities New Writers Need to Face
Writing for Children – Character Believability and Conflict
What Makes a Good Story? Plot Driven vs. Character Driven

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 your story into a publishable book you’ll be proud to be the 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.

May 29

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

Not all rhyme works in children's books.

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. This means in order to  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 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 your 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 22

Writing, Submissions, and Working With Editors

Working with Editors

Every writer, at least hopefully, will work with an editor from time to time. While, we’d all like it to be on a regular basis, time to time is better than nothing. When in the joyous situation (you’ve gotten something accepted for publication), there are some tips that will help you in your working relationship with an editor.

The first thing, even before you think of submitting your work, is to have your manuscript or article in the best shape possible.

GETTING TO THE POINT OF SUBMISSIONS

1. Be part of a critique group. Every writer needs the extra eyes of writers working in the same genre. Their insights and critiques will prove to be invaluable to you.

2. Revise and self-edit . . .  repeat and repeat . . .

3. When you think your manuscript is in perfect shape, send it to a freelance editor. You may think this isn’t necessary, but it is. Ask around for one that comes with recommendations.

Now, you’re set; off you go on your submissions fishing trip. But, don’t just drop the line randomly; be sure you do research and find the best spot – one where you know the fish are biting. What this means is to look for publishing houses that are best suited to your manuscript, and ones that are accepting submissions.

After you’ve found a few publishing houses suitable. Read their submission guidelines CAREFULLY, and follow them just as carefully. Now it’s time for the infamous query letter. If you’re unfamiliar with queries, do some research.

Okay, you’ve done everything you needed to, and now you cast off. AND, you get a bite.

WORKING WITH EDITORS

Once you’re accepted by a publishing house, you will be assigned an editor. And, don’t be alarmed, but that manuscript you meticulously slaved over, and even paid an editor to go over, will end up with revisions. This is just the nature of the beast—each publishing house has their own way of doing things. They will want you’re manuscript to fit their standards.

Note: the purpose of those long hours of writing work, and hiring an editor is to give your manuscript the best shot of making it past the acquisition editor’s trash pile, and actually getting accepted.
Now on to 4 tips that will help make your editor/author experience a pleasant one:

1. Always be professional.

2. Don’t get insulted when the editor requests revisions. They are not trying to hurt your feelings; they are hired by the publishing house to get your manuscript in the best possible saleable state. They want your book to sell as much as you do.

3. Keep the lines of communication open. If you have a question, ask. If you disagree with an edit, respectfully discuss it. Editors are not infallible; sometimes your gut feeling is right.

4. Take note of deadlines and be on time—this is your career, and in some cases your livelihood.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR STORY?

Whether you need help with ghostwriting, rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s 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 idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable and marketable story today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Book Marketing and the Query Letter
Point of View and Children’s Storytelling
Writing for Children – Character Believability and Conflict

May 08

The 3 Levels of Picture Books

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 your 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 17

How Do You Build a Successful Writing Career? (3 Tips)

How do you build a writing career?

Writers need to be tough. It’s not an easy arena to be in. Did you know that writers get so many rejections there have actually been studies done on it. According to a Huffington Post article, “96% of authors seeking agents are rejected.” (1)

That’s pretty severe.

Another article at Writer’s Digest says, “don’t even think about giving up until you’ve queried at least one hundred agents.” (2).

But, what if Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen gave up after 100 rejections. They were rejected 144 times before landing a publishing contract.
So, how does a writer become successful?

Well, there are at least 3 characteristics that go a long way in giving a writer a fighting chance.

1. Perseverance.

Perseverance is probably the single most important factor.  You can learn to write. You can improve your writing. You can submit you work more often. But, if you get discouraged when successes don’t come as fast as you’d like or expected, you may start writing less, you may give up.

This is where you need to persevere. Know that it’s not the best writers who succeed, it’ those who persevere.

From personal experience I can attest to this. I work in two niches. I did it for years with not much success. Then suddenly, clients began finding me and hiring me in one of those niches.

More often than not, success is just around the corner. You’ve got to persevere.

2. You MUST set goals.

While perseverance is an essential factor in writing success, without setting goals, what are you persevering toward? You need to be a goal setter.

Your goals need to be specific. What do you really want to succeed at?

  • Getting ongoing publishing contracts.
  • Getting freelance writing projects on a regular basis.
  • Supplementing your income.
  • Earning $50,000 per year. Earning $100,000 per year. Earning $500,000 per year. Being a millionaire.
  • Becoming a New York Times Best Seller.
  • Becoming famous.

I found it more tangible to create monthly income goals rather than yearly ones.

You need to find what your goals are and what strategy to use to obtain them. And, you need to make those goals visible. Create a vision board or write them down and read them every day.

3. Focus

One big pitfall in writing is not having focus.

I mentioned earlier that after years of struggling along, I began to get clients on a regular basis. And, I’ve gotten lots of return and series clients.

One important factor how this came about is I began to focus on one writing niche. I devoted the majority of my time and energy in that area and it paid off.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have more than one writing niche, but if you want to succeed in something, you need to prioritize. You need to focus.

As my writing coach would say, focus on what’s making you money.

Get to work building these three characteristics and see if it doesn’t make a difference. And, let us know how you make out.

References:
(1) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heather-hummel/why-agents-reject-96-of-a_b_4247045.html
(2) http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/dont-give-up-until-youve-queried-80-agents-or-more

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Aim for Writing Success

8 Top Fiction Writing Mistakes to Avoid

Being a Writer – Learn the Craft of Writing

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 your 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

Mar 27

Had a Children’s Book Ghostwritten? Now What?

Sefl-pub or Traditionally pub

With a steady stream of ghosting clients, I am often asked what comes after the manuscript is written and edited.

Well, this depends on which publishing road you’ll be taking: self-publishing or traditional publishing.

Since the majority of my clients go the self-pubbing route, I’ll start there.

SELF-PUBLISHING

BASIC PAGES AND COPY (in addition to the story).

1. You’ll need back cover copy. This is a brief synopsis of the story, usually 100-200 words. It needs to be ‘grabbing’ and ‘clear.’

2. It’s a good idea to have an About the Author or Author’s Note page at the end of the story. It’s definitely optional though.

3. A Copyright page – you can include acknowledgements on this page.

4. A Dedication / Acknowledgment page is a thought.

5. Some authors want a Preface page, but in most cases this isn’t necessary.

6. If you have words that may need to be defined for the young reader, you might include a Glossary right after the story. Most authors don’t bother with this.

7. Then there’s the Activity Page and Reading Comprehension Page. If you’re hoping to get your book into the classroom this is a must.

Unless you’re creating your own pages, these items will be an additional fee.

ILLUSTRATIONS

Interior:

If you have a children’s picture book you’ll need to get illustrations done. Depending on your budget, you’ll need to decide if you want 14 interior illustrations (one per spread) or 32 illustrations (one per page). A standard picture book is 32 pages.

Keep in mind that a full spread is considered two pages and you will be charged for two illustrations.

Note: A spread is the two pages you see when you have a book open. For example, pages 1 and 2 / pages 3 and 4 / and so on.

Pricing for illustrations vary. I recommend a few illustrators to my clients: the cost is somewhere between  $80-$150 per interior illustration. There are others who charge $200 and up per interior illustration.

Exterior:

The book cover is a BIGGIE. The cover is one of the most influential elements to motivate someone to pick up your book. You want it done right. Covers are more money than interior spreads.

You might also want to go for a small back cover illustration. This isn’t really necessary though. You can simply have a colored back cover with your synopsis on it. Possibly include an image of yourself (the author).

On the flip side, you can probably get illustrations cheaper through various services / illustrators. Just be sure the one you choose is capable of creating quality illustrations.

Again, cover illustrations are more.

Here are a three places you can look for illustrators:
https://www.upwork.com
https://fiverr.com
http://  blueberryillustrations.com  /childrens-book-illustrations\
(Sorry I had to break up the last link, WP kept bringing up the clip for it.)

You can also do a Google search. Just please be careful. Be sure to review a portfolio of their work and books they’ve done.

So, you can see that self-publishing a children’s picture book can get pretty expensive.

Hot Tip: Unless you’re a professional illustrator, or really, really, really good, don’t attempt to do your own illustrations.

Checking the Illustrations and Illustrations to text.

Unless you hire someone to oversee this process, you will need to make sure there are no errors in the illustrations.

For the first part, you need to carefully review each illustration, including the cover and back cover (if you have an image on the back cover).

It can be something as simple as part of a foot missing, or a picture described in the story conveyed wrong in the illustration. These, among many others, were mistakes I found for one of my clients who hired me to oversee this process for him.

It can even be consistency, maybe how the characters look throughout the story or even the background scenery. In one project, the illustrator had molding in some illustrations and none in others where is should have been.

You’ll have to have a keen eye for this stuff, but getting it right is the difference between a good quality product and a poor quality product.

For the illustrations to text review, it’s the same. You want to make sure the illustration fits the text per spread. Most illustrators get this right, but I’ve come across a few who do make mistakes.

This is your book. You want it to be the best it can be. This means getting all the details right.

TIME FRAME

Having the book ghostwritten and illustrated can take around 3 months, possibly longer.

The Story

Using myself as an example, I usually take one-four weeks to write a children’s picture book manuscript of 800 – 3000 words (depends on what my clients’ needs/ wants). I do mention in my freelance agreement that it can take up to six weeks.

It’s important to know that if you’re self-publishing your word count can be over 1000 words. If you’re going the traditional route it’s a good idea to stay around or under 800 words.

Another factor in the time it takes to write the story is the time it takes the client to respond to questions and approvals of content. If a client takes more than a couple of days to respond to emails, the time frame will be thrown off.

The Illustrations

Getting the interior and exterior illustrations done can take two-four months, sometimes more. It will depend on the illustrator you use and his/her workload.

GETTING THE BOOK PUBLISHED (ready for distribution / sale)

Depending on your budget, you can hire someone from a site like Fiverr.com to format and upload your book onto Kindle and/or other publishing venues.

Or, you can hire a service, like BookBaby to do it for you. This route will cost more money, but you’ll have all your “Is” dotted and “Ts” crossed.

Self-Publishing a Chapter or Simple Middle Grade Book

If you have a chapter or simple middle grade book ghosted, you’ll only need illustrations for each chapter. And, they can be simple grey tone sketches.

While it’s not an absolute must to have illustrations for these books, it does help with engagement for the young reader.

THE TRADITIONAL ROAD

The traditional route will cost much less. All you’ll be paying for is the ghostwriter. You won’t need illustrations.

While it will cost less, it will certainly take a lot longer.

You’ll have to submit your manuscript to publishers and/or literary agents to hopefully get a contract. You’ll need a query letter for this. And, having a synopsis of the story is a good idea also.

When and if a contract happens, it takes an average of two years before your book is actually published. So, patience will be needed.

And, be prepared for the publisher’s editor to go over your story and possibly request changes. This is just part of the process. Be open to suggestions.

I recommend you get the most recent edition of “Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market” by Writer’s Digest Books. This book provides information on publishers and agents in the children’s writing arena. These are the people you’ll be submitting your manuscript to.

And, for more information on traditional publishing, you can read:

Children’s Writing and Publishing – The Traditional Path

THE AUTHOR WEBSITE

Before you publish your book, you absolutely need an author website. Publishers and agents will expect this. And, if you’re self-publishing it’s even more important.

According to Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest, in his book “Create Your Writer Platform,” an author’s platform (its visibility, connections, and reach) is a key factor when looking for a publisher or agent.

Take note that this is not after a book is published; it’s when the author is looking for a contract. Your platform begins with a website.

Summing it Up

This is a basic run-down of what to expect and what you’ll need to do to get your ghostwritten manuscript published.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Make Your Children’s Writing Website Focused – 3 Must-Haves, 6 Tips
Editing a Children’s Book – 10 Tips Checklist for Authors
Submitting Your Manuscript – 8 Tips
4 Book Marketing Strategies Guaranteed to Keep Your Platform Moving Forward

Need Help With Your Story

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can help turn your 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

Mar 13

Point of View and Children’s Storytelling

Writing and Point of View

Point-of-view (POV) is the narrator’s view of what’s going on. The POV is who’s telling the story. This will determine what the reader ‘hears’ and ‘sees’ in regard to the story. And, it determines the ‘personal pronouns’ that will be used.

There are three main POVs in young children’s storytelling: first person, second person, and third person (limited). And, in each of these POVs, the protagonist (main character) must be in each scene – the story is told through his five-senses. If he doesn’t see, hear, smell, taste, or touch it, it doesn’t exist in the story.

1. First person.

This POV has the protagonist personally telling the story. Pronouns, such as “I,” “my,” “me,” “I’m,” are used.

Example from “Because of Winn-Dixie:”

That summer I found Winn-Dixie was also the summer me and the preacher moved to Naomi, Florida, so he could be the new preacher . . .  (The protagonist, Opal, is talking to the reader – italics are mine for clarity.)

Notice the above isn’t in quotation marks for dialog. Dialog would be used if the protagonist talks to another character in the story or another character talks. See examples below:

“But you know what?” I told Winn-Dixie. (Opal is talking to her dog.)

“Well, I don’t know,” said Miss Franny. “Dogs are not allowed in the Herman W. Block Memorial Library.” (The librarian in the story is talking to Opal.)

Children’s books in first person POV:

“Because of Winn-Dixie (Kate DiCamillo)
“Green Eggs and Ham” (Dr. Suess)
“The Polar Express” (Chris Van Allsburg)
“Fly Away Home” (Eve Bunting)

2. Second person.

This POV uses “you” as the pronoun, referring to the reader and isn’t used that often in young children’s writing. But, there are some authors who pull it off very well.

An example of this POV from “How to Babysit Grandpa:”

Babysitting a grandpa is fun. If you know how. (The protagonist is talking to the reader, involving him. Italics are mine.)

Children’s books in second person POV:

“How to Babysit Grandpa” (Jean Reagan)
“My Mouth Is A Volcano” (Julia Cook)
“Secret Pizza Party” (Adam Rubin)
“The Book That Eats People” (John Perry)

3. Third person (limited).

This POV is probably the most popular in young children’s writing. Pronouns, such as “he,” “she,” “its,” “they,” and “their” are used.

While this is similar to the other two POVs, in that they’re all told from the protagonist’s point-of-view, in third person, a third party, the narrator is telling the story. He’s privy to all the senses and emotions of the protagonist.

Here’s an example from “Walking Through Walls:”

“You will practice by walking through this brick wall. You must repeat the magic formula over and over as you go through it.” Wang looked at the wall. He tightened his fists, clenched his jaw, and wrinkled his forehead. This is sure to hurt.

“Uh,” he paused, “Master, what will happen if I do say the words to the magic formula out loud?”
“Wang, you are trying to delay your task. It is a good question though. Your tongue will cease its movement if you speak the words to the formula.”

Wang’s eyes opened wide and he flung his hands on top of his head. Never to talk again! I am sorry I asked for the formula. What if I slip?

The narrator is telling the reader what’s going on. Again, he’s privy to the protagonist’s thoughts, senses, and feelings.

Children’s books in third person POV:

“Walking Through Walls” (Karen Cioffi)
“Owen” (Kevin Henkes)
“Tops and Bottoms” (Janet Stevens)
“Stephanie’s Ponytail” (Robert Munsch)

Be consistent.

When writing for young children, it’s the author’s job to make sure the story is engaging and CLEAR (easy to understand). One quick way to lose the reader is to mix and match point-of-views within the story. Even if you slip just once, you may very well throw the reader off.

One easy error is to slip in a second person POV within a third person story. How this might happen:

The third-party narrator is explaining what the protagonist did then throw in something like, Can you believe it?

That one little sentence has switched POVs and can cause confusion.

Remember to choose one POV and stick with it throughout your story.

There you have it, the three main points-of-view in young children’s storytelling. Which do you prefer?

Sources:

http://literarydevices.net/point-of-view/
http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/mondays-with-mandy-or-mira/second-person-point-of-view-in-picture-books

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Children’s Writing and Publishing Jargon – 11 of the Basics
Getting to Know Your Characters
Plot and Your Story – Four Formats

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 your 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 347—-834—-6700