Mar 06

Storytelling – Do Not Let the Reader Become Disengaged

Keep the reader engagedAs an author it’s your job to create an engaging, compelling, suspenseful, intriguing, romantic, or other type of story content that will lure readers in and keep them turning the pages. But the key word for a successful story is ‘engaging.’

Engagement, according to Merriman-Webster.com, means to have an emotional involvement or commitment. Based on this, no matter what genre you write in the story must hold or engage the reader.

In an article in the Writer’s Digest January 2011 issue, Steven James takes a look at aspects of “great storytelling.”

The first rule to a successful story is, according to James, “cause and effect.” In children’s writing this is the same as an obstacle and its solution – there must be a circumstance that leads the protagonist to an action in an effort to find a solution. I do like the wording James uses though, because it’s more in line with multiple writing genres.

In its simplest form, something happens (the cause) that creates or motivates an action or reaction (the effect).

James goes on to explain that along with cause and effect, the order in which an event unfolds or how it’s written will also make a difference between keeping a reader engaged and allowing for disengagement.

“As a fiction writer, you want your reader to always be emotionally present in the story,” explains James. If the sequence of an event causes the reader to stop and wonder why something is happening, even if just for a moment, you’ve left room for disengagement.

As an example, suppose you write:

She fell to her knees, dropped her head, and wept uncontrollably. Her husband was dead.

While in just eight words, the reader learns why the woman is crying, it may be enough time for her to pause and wonder – this can lead to disengagement.

To create a cause and effect scenario that keeps the reader in the loop, you might write:

Her husband was dead; the words echoed through the room. She fell to her knees, dropped her head, and wept uncontrollably.

The second aspect of writing James touches upon is creating and maintaining a believable story. Even if writing a fantasy or science fiction, consistency is needed, along with believable actions, reactions, observations, conclusions, and so on within the boundaries of the story.

A basic example of this might be if you write about a character with brown eyes, then somewhere within the story you accidently mention the eyes are blue. This little slip creates a believability gap.

Any gap in the believability of the story or its characters has the potential to cause the reader to pause, question, and very possibly become disengaged.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Finding Age Appropriate Words When Writing For Children
Ingredients for a Perfect Picture Book
Plot and Your Story – Four Formats

Need Help With Your StoryLet me take a look at your story. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn your story into an engaging, 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.

Feb 07

Writing Fiction for Children – 4 Simple Tips

Children's writing tipsWriting fiction for children has a number of rules and tricks, the very basics of which are creating believable characters and adding conflict. But, there are many other elements that go into creating an effective and engaging story. Below are four simple tips to help you navigate the children’s writing waters.

1. Show the way to success

While description and a bit of telling have their place, today’s publishers want you to show the story. The technique for ‘showing’ rather than ‘telling’ is to use your character’s five senses, along with dialogue.

The days of, “See Dick and Jane walk down the lane,” are far gone.
Showing allows the reader to connect with the protagonist. The reader is able to feel the protagonist’s pain, joy, fear, or excitement. This creates a connection and prompts the reader to continue reading.
If you’re stuck, and can’t seem to be able to ‘show’ a particular scene, try acting it out. You can also draw on your own experiences, TV, or the movies. Study scenes that convey the ‘showing’ you need to depict.

2. Create synergy

Joining the story together in a seamless fashion is probably the trickiest part of writing fiction. The characters, conflict, plot, theme, setting and other details all need to blend together to create something grander than their individual parts; like the ingredients of a cake. This is called synergy.

It doesn’t matter if your story is plot driven or character driven, all the elements need to weave together smoothly to create the desired affect you are going for: humor, mystery, action, fantasy, or other.

If you have an action packed plot driven story, but it lacks believable and sympathetic characters, you’re story will be lacking. The same holds true if you have a believable and sympathetic character, but the story lacks movement, it will usually also fall short.

All this must be done in an engaging manner, along with easy to understand content.

3. Keep it lean

According to multi-published children’s writer Margot Finke, today’s children’s publishing world is looking for tight writing. Choose your words for their ability to convey strong and distinct actions, create imagery, and move the story forward.

The publishing costs for picture books over 32 pages is beyond what most publishers are willing to spend, so word counts should be well under 1000, and be sure to make each word count. Keep in mind that the illustrations will add another layer to the story and fill in the blanks.

When writing fiction for young children, the younger the children, the leaner the writing. This means if you’re writing for toddlers or preschoolers, you should limit your word count to a range of 100 to 250 words.

4. Be part of a critique group

This is a must for all writers, but especially for children’s writers. There are so many additional tricks of the trade that you need to be aware of when writing for children, you’ll need the extra sets of eyes.

Your critique partners will no doubt be able to see what you missed. This is because you are too close to your own work. They will also be helpful in providing suggestions and guidance. Just be sure your critique group has experienced, as well as new writers.

Belonging to a ‘writing fiction for children’ critique group will also help you hone your craft.

Use these four tips to help create a ‘synergized’ story.

What strategies do you use to take your story up a notch?

MORE ON WRITING

The Book Summary – Five Must-Know Components
Finding Age Appropriate Words When Writing For Children
Getting to Know Your Characters

Need Help With Your StoryLet 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)

Jan 31

Writing Fiction for Children – Character Believability and Conflict

Writing for ChildrenWriting in general is a tough craft, although many may not think so. The writer has to take individual words and craft them together to create: interest, suspense, romance, humor, grief, fantasy, other worlds . . . the list goes on and on. And, it must be done with clarity.

While there is an abundance of information about writing and writing for children, it can easily become overwhelming, and even confusing. But, getting down to the nitty-gritty, there are two basic elements or rules to writing fiction for children you need to be aware of: creating believable characters and having conflict.

Writing Fiction for Children – Your Characters Need Believability

1. Your Characters Need Believability

Your characters, especially your protagonist, need to create a bond or connection with the reader. In order to create that connection you will need to care about your characters. If you don’t, you’ll never get a reader to care. Make your characters believable and interesting.

In addition to this, you need to know your characters and remember their traits, physical characteristics, temperament, and so on. I’m sure there are instances, if you’re writing by the seat-of-your-pants rather than from an outline, where your character may do something you didn’t plan, but usually it’s a good idea to know what makes him tick.

Even the choices your protagonist makes will help define him, and create a deeper bond with the reader. Does he take the high road to reach his goals, or does he sneak in under the wire? Does he create options to choose from, or is he sweep along by the current of the story, grabbing at lifelines for survival? Are his choices a struggle?

You can keep track of your characters’ quirky telltale marks, expressions, behavior patterns, and physical features by noting them on a page as they become unveiled.

2. Conflict is a must

A story’s conflict is like a detour or obstacle in the road from point A to point B. The protagonist must figure out a way over, around, under, or through it.

Conflict will drive your story forward and give the reader a reason to stay involved. Conflict is basically an obstacle between your protagonist and what she wants or needs. It may be a crisis, a desire, a relationship, a move, or other. It can be caused by internal or external factors. Does overcoming one obstacle/conflict lead to another? Does she have help, or are others thwarting her efforts?

Along with this, there should be more than one conflict. For children’s writing, there may be two or three conflicts; as one is overcome another takes its place. A good rule is to think in threes: three characters, three problems, and three solutions.

This is only the beginning and most basic of the tips that new writers of children’s fiction should be aware of. There are many more that I’ll touch on in other articles.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Rewriting a Folktale – Walking Through Walls
The Outline Method of Writing (Are You an Outliner?)
Submitting Manuscript Queries – Be Specific and Professional

Need Help With Your StoryLet 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)

Jan 25

Rewriting a Folktale – Walking Through Walls

When a writer’s muse seems to be on vacation, she may be at a loss for story ideas. While there are a number of sites and tools online to help get the creative juices flowing, one tool that writers might overlook is studying folktales.

Reading folktales is a great way to spin a new yarn, especially for children’s writing. I recently did a review of a children’s picture book published by Sylvan Dell that was based on an American Indian folktale. This shows they are publishable.

Folktales, also known as tall tales, and folklore, are stories specific to a country or region. They are usually short stories dealing with everyday life that come from oral tradition that is passed from generation to generation. Most often these tales involve animals, heavenly objects, and other non-human entities that possess human characteristics.

There is Mexican folklore, Irish folklore, Chinese folklore, as well as folklore from many other countries that have tales unique to their area. There is also American folklore that encompasses stories from each of the 50 states. There is a huge supply of stories to spin and weave.

In addition to reviewing a couple of published children’s books that were based on folktales, I wrote a children’s fantasy story based on an ancient Chinese tale.

Interestingly, prior to receiving an outline of the tale from a Chinese nonfiction writer I knew from one of my writing groups, I never thought of rewriting folktales. But, once given the outline, I loved the story and the message it presented. The outline itself was very rough and written with an adult as the main character (MC), which is often the case with very old folktales.

After reading the story I knew the MC would need to become a child. I think every children’s writer is aware that children want to read about children, not adults. And, the MC needs to be a couple of years older than the target audience the author is writing for.

Based on this, I decided to make my MC a 12-year-old boy. And, since I liked the ancient Chinese flavor of the story, I kept it and made the story take place in the 16th century China. After this was set, I needed to come up with a title and the MC’s name.

When choosing a title for your book, it’s important to keep it in line with the story and make it something that will be marketable to the age group you’re targeting. I chose Walking Through Walls, and it is scheduled to be available March 2011(published through 4RV Publishing).

As far as the character’s name, you will need to base it on the time period and geographic location of the story, unless the character is out of his element. Since my story was to take place in China, I used a Chinese name, Wang.

To keep the flavor of your story consistent, you will also need to give it a feeling of authenticity. This will involve some research. How did the people dress during the time of your story? What names were used? What did they eat? What type of work or schooling was available? What locations might you mention? What type of crops and vegetation would be present? What types of homes did they live in? There are many aspects of the story that you will want to make as authentic as possible. And, it does matter, even in fiction stories; it will add richness to your story.

The next time you’re in the library, ask the librarian to show you a few folktales. Then imagine how you might rewrite one or more of them for today’s children’s book market.

Walking Through Walls was honored with a Children’s Literary Classics 2012 Silver Award! Get your copy today at Amazon.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

The Book Summary – Five Must-Know Components
Learn to Write for Children – 3 Basic Tools
Children’s Writing and Publishing Jargon – 11 of the Basics

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Dec 16

Talking about A Caterpillar, a Bee, and a VERY Big Tree in the Classroom

children's picture book“A Caterpillar, a Bee and a Very Big Tree,” written by brother and sister pair, Dicksy Wilson and D. B. Sanders.

This rhyming picture book teaches cadence and rhythm and has a sing-song feel in places. The charming characters and illustrations will inspire young minds and immerse children in the action from the first page through the last. The main and recurring theme in the book is simple: “You can do anything if you put your mind to it.”

Throughout the tale, readers learn a few different important life lessons. Each of the following lessons can be used as a talking point for group discussion in the classroom or by parents as they read the book with their own child or children:

Lesson 1 – BE YOURSELF

In the earliest part of the story, a brief lesson in individuality comes from the main characters – a caterpillar named Gus who is a self-proclaimed procrastinator and not like the other “green fuzzies” and a bee named Shoo who is allergic to pollen and unable to work with the other “buzz-buzzies.” While they discuss the fact that they are different from their own respective kind, they decide that they can be friends with one another regardless of how they are viewed by others.

Discussion Tip:

After students have read or listened to the story, have them list the ways the main characters were unique. Have them next make a list of their own unique qualities. They can also list the unique qualities of their best friend and decide which (if any) qualities they share with their best friend.

Lesson 2  –  HELP OTHERS

When the pair is faced with the conflict of the story – a huge storm coming straight for the mighty oak in which all of the other diligent caterpillars have already spun their cocoons – a lesson of helping others becomes the theme of the book. Gus and Shoo decide that they have to take a risk to save all of the others who may not have tied their cocoons tightly enough. They work together to overcome a multitude of obstacles in order to save the day, and, although they sometimes get a little panicked and overwhelmed with the task at hand, they always find a way to cooperatively solve the problems before them.

Discussion Tip:

Have students discuss all the obstacles the characters have to overcome, then have them tell about obstacles in their own lives that they’ve had to overcome.

Lesson 3 –  THINK POSITIVE

Both characters deal with their own self-doubt along the way, but they rely on the gentle encouragement of each other and embrace a positive thinking approach. When Shoo doubts his ability to carry Gus to the top of the tree, Gus smiles at his friend, “I just know you can do it… you can do anything if you put your mind to it.” In the end, Shoo helps Gus overcome his fear of flying after he transforms into a beautiful butterfly.

Discussion Tip:

Have students discuss the techniques the characters used to think positively. Next, have them create or list some techniques they can use themselves to think positively in trying times.

Lesson 4 – NEVER GIVE UP

Throughout the book there are lessons about taking the time to slow down, think things through and never give up.

Teaching Tip:
Have students point out scenes in the book where the characters slow down to think things through and never give up. Have students talk about times in their own lives when they’ve felt like giving up. What kept them going?

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Writing a Fiction Story – Walking Through Walls Backstory
Writing Children’s Books – Genre Differences
How Do You Make a Good Story Worthy of Getting Past the Gatekeeper

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Dec 14

Learn to Write for Children – 3+ Basic Tools

Children's writing tools.

We all know how difficult it is to break into the business of writing for children. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, it is a tough business and can be overwhelming for those just starting out. While all writing must adhere to certain guidelines, writing for children has additional principles unique to its genre.

To start, the words used in children’s writing must be age appropriate. This may sound easy to do, but it can be a difficult task. There are also certain techniques and tricks used specifically in writing for children, such as the Core of Three, sentence structure, and the timeframe in which the story should occur when writing for young children. In addition, it’s essential to make sure your conflicts, storyline, and point of view are appropriate for the age group you’re writing for.

Along with this, there are general techniques for writing, such as adding sensory details, showing instead of telling, and creating an engaging story that hooks the reader right away, along with great dialogue and correct punctuation.

This is just the beginning though, there is also the business of editing your work, the book summary, writing a winning query, and following submission guidelines; the list goes on and on.

But, don’t get discouraged, there is help.

Here are three four basic tools to get you started and guide you down the children’s writing path:

1. Children’s Writer’s WORD BOOK by Alijandra Mogilner is a great resource that provides word lists grouped by grades along with a thesaurus of listed words. This allows you to check a word in question to make sure it is appropriate for the age group you’re writing for. It also provides reading levels for synonyms. It’s a very useful tool and one that I use over and over.

2. Read and learn about how to write for children. There are plenty of books and courses you can find online that will help you become a ‘good’ children’s writer. One in particular is: The Institute of Children’s Literature.

Another great resource to learn the craft of writing for children is the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. They have outstanding workshops. I’ve attended a couple so far and when they have another local one, I’ll be there!

In addition, they have a helpful forum with experienced writers who are happy to help other writers.There’s an annual fee, but worth every penny.

And you can check out my book, How to Write A Children’s Fiction Book. It’s 200+ pages of instruction, tips, advice, examples, and more.

3. The Frugal Editor by award winning author and editor, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, is a useful book for any writing genre, including children’s. It is great resource that guides you through basic editing, to getting the most out of your Word program’s features, to providing samples of queries. The author provides great tips and advice that will have you saying, “Ah, so that’s how it’s done.”

4. Grammarly and ProWritingAid are two editing tools that I use. I started using them a few months ago and LOVE them. They do have a yearly fee, but I find they’re worth the cost. I use them for my own work (including my articles) and my clients’ work.

I’ve invested in a number of books, courses and programs in writing and marketing, and know value when I see it; these products have a great deal of value for you as a writer, and if you’re budget allows, they are definitely worthwhile writing tools.

I consider these four resources essential tools in my children’s writing tool belt. But, the most important aspect of creating a writing career is to actually begin.

Remember, you can’t succeed if you don’t try. It takes that first step to start your journey, and that first step seems to be a huge stumbling block for many of us. Don’t let procrastination or fear stop you from moving forward – start today!

MORE ON CHILDREN’S WRITING

Ingredients for a Perfect Picture Book
Book Marketing and the Query Letter
What Makes a Good Story? Plot Driven vs. Character Driven

Want to take your writing (your story) up a notch? Want to make it pubishable?

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

Send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line), or call me at 347—834—6700.

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Nov 30

Finding Age Appropriate Words when Writing for Children

Using age appropriate words.

Writing in general can be a tough business; writing for children is even tougher. Writing for children has its own unique tricks, processes, and rules; one of those rules is using words that are age appropriate.

How this differs from writing in general is that the children’s writing arena is divided into specific age groups.

There are picture books and rebus stories for the very young child. The story line and text are simple; they need to tell a story including basic conflict and action, but they are geared toward the comprehension of young children.

Next comes early readers. Again, the words used and plot are relatively simple to help the child learn to read.

The next genre is chapter books. Here the plot and words grow just like the child has. The story can be more involved and geared to hold the child’s attention with mild mystery, suspense, and fantasy.

Then it’s on to middle grade. At this point, the child has grown and has greater comprehension and vocabulary, so should the stories for them. The plot and conflict can be more complex than the earlier chapter books.

Finally, it’s on to young adult. This genre’s stories can be sophisticated and involved enough to attract adult readership. But, it obviously should still be written avoiding hard core subject matter. While it can deal with just about all topics, it should be void explicit adult context.  Writing for adults is simpler; the writer usually writes with the vocabulary he/she is use to.

The question is: How does a writer know which words are specific to a particular age group?

Unless you are an experienced writer and have become very familiar with the different age group vocabularies, you will need help in this area.

Three Sources/Tools for Finding Age Appropriate Words

1. A source that I’ve found very useful is Children’s Writers Word Book, 2nd Edition, by Alijandra Mogilner and Tayopa Mogilner. It lists specific words that are introduced at seven key reading levels (kindergarten through sixth grade). It provides a thesaurus of those words with synonyms, annotated with reading levels. In addition, it offers detailed guidelines for sentence length, word usage, and themes at each reading level. I find it a valuable tool in my writing toolbelt.

2. Another great source is http://www.readabilityformulas.com/free-dale-chall-test.php which utilizes Spache and Dale formulas. This is an amazing site that allows you to input 200 words, choose a readability formula (what grade level you are writing for), and click for the results. The program, OKAPI (an internet application for creating curriculum-based assessment reading probes) will return a readability analysis of your text, indicating what grade level the particular content is appropriate for. This particular webpage is for 4th grade words, but there’s a link to find lower grade words.

3. Next is http://bogglesworldesl.com/dolch/lists.htm. This site provides printable wordlists for each grade level. The lists are limited, but it does give a good indication of appropriate words for the particular age group you are writing for.

All three of these resources are useful in finding just the right words for the children’s writer. There are also other books and sites available that will help you in your search for those age appropriate words for your children’s book, just do a search.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

10 Rules for Writing Children’s Stories
Is Your Manuscript Ready for Submission?
Submitting Manuscript Queries – Be Specific and Professional

Need Help With Your StoryLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. 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 at call at 347—834—6700.

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Nov 22

Ingredients for the Perfect Picture Book

Creating a 'good' picture book.

Writing for young children can be tricky. It’s not as straight forward as writing for adults. You can’t use your own vocabulary and need to be careful of age appropriate story lines. You also need to introduce your main character immediately.

It’s also important to keep in mind that children don’t have the same comprehension level as an adult, so all aspects of the story need to be clear and geared toward the age group you’re writing for.

So, what exactly does a children’s writer need to include in a picture book?

Let’s go over the basic ingredients of picture books:

1.    The story should include: a surface level, an underlying meaning level, and a take-away level. This means young children should be engaged by it; older children should get a little deeper meaning or realization from it; and parents or the reader should be able to see the take-away value.

2.    The story should be written with a 50/50 formula. Be sure to allow for 16 illustrations (a picture book usually has 32 pages). And, allow the illustrator to tell part of the story. Picture books are a partnership between the author and illustrator. For example: Instead of telling the reader that John grabbed his favorite blue shirt with red and yellow footballs on it, just write that John grabbed his favorite shirt. Your illustrator will know how to depict the scene.

3.    Children love action and need to be engaged so be sure to include action. Being use to TV and movies, writers need to account for the waning attention spans of children.

4.    Show rather than tell. The ‘powers that be’ in the children’s publishing world frown upon telling a story.

5.    The story should have a flow or rhythm and structure to it.

6.    The story should have predictability. This pulls children in; they think they know what’s going to happen next based on what’s happened before in the story.

For example: In the story Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina, a group of monkeys took a peddler’s caps and put them on their heads. The peddler tried to coax the monkeys to give back the caps, but every action the peddler took, the monkeys mimicked. They stomped their feet, shook their hands, but they wouldn’t give the peddler back his caps. Finally, in anger, the peddler threw his own hat from his head to the ground.

Can you see a child’s mind working and thinking each time the peddler does something else? He/she is going to guess that the monkeys will mimic each action.

7.    Finally, the story should have an unexpected ending relating to something that happened in the story. We’ll go back to Caps for Sale. The peddler tried everything and finally, in anger and not realizing, he threw his hat to the ground. What do you think the monkeys did? Down came all the caps.

“Ah,” the reader will say, “he should have done that in the first place.”

Along with these basic ingredients, there are a couple of toppings needed:

1.    Use age appropriate words.
2.    Use age appropriate story lines.
3.    Be sure to have your main character (point of view) speak first so the child/reader will quickly know who the protagonist is.
4.    Use proper grammar and punctuation.

Now you can cook up a picture book!

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

What Makes a Good Story? Plot Driven vs. Character Driven
Editing a Children’s Book – 10 Tips Checklist for Authors
Become an Author – 5 Basic Rules

Need Help With Your Story

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. 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 give me a call at 347—834—6700.

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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Nov 08

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

Children's writing publishing jargon basics.

The 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
http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2015/07/13/submitting-manuscript-queries/

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 bringing it to the next level, check out my e-classes through WOW Women on Writing at: https://thewritingworld.com/your-author-platform/

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

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Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at your idea, outline, or draft. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. I can turn your 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)

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Nov 01

Children’s Ghostwriter Fees – Does Price Equal Quality?

Fees for ghostwriting a children's bookAs a ghostwriter for children’s books, I get a number of queries each month. And, interestingly, I never know if the potential client will think my prices are too high, too low, or just right.

It seems that around $15,000 is the norm to ghostwrite a middle-grade book of 35,000 words. To me though, that seems like a lot of money. There are people out there who long to ‘write’ a book, but don’t know how or don’t have the time – that’s where a ghostwriter comes in.

According to Writer’s Market 2020, the lower-end pricing to ghostwrite with NO credit is $0.50 per word. The higher-end is $3.00 per word.

But, how many people can afford $15,000 or more to fulfill a dream?

Pricing is too low.

Because of this, I try to keep my fees affordable, within the reach of more people.

The same goes for writing picture books.

I’ve actually had potential clients call and question why my fee for ghosting a children’s picture book was low. And, I know I’ve lost a few projects because of this – I could tell they equated price with quality.

The same has happened with middle-grade projects.

So, what’s a writer to do?

While I have upped my fees, they are still extremely reasonable and under what other ghostwriters are charging.

Pricing higher will kill the dreams of those who want a quality book, but just can’t afford it.

Pricing is too high.

Yep, there is a flip side.

I’ve gotten queries from people who want to have a book written, but once they hear the price (the price that is too low for others), they can’t afford it.

But, getting back to the title question: Does price equate to quality?

NO! No, it doesn’t.

Over the years, I’ve ghosted and rewritten 300+ children’s books and gotten excellent testimonials from those who don’t mind sharing that they used my services. And, I have repeat clients. I currently have three clients who have each hired me to write a series of books. Along with this, one of my prior clients had interest from MADD based on a story I rewrote for her.

So, again, price does not equate to quality . . . at least not with some ghostwriters.

Sure, I can up my prices. But, again, those who can’t afford it wouldn’t be able to hire a quality writer.

I’ve written for people all over the world: Norway, Italy, Jordan, United Kingdom, Scotland, Saipan, United Arab Emirates, and many states within the United States. These people now have the satisfaction of being a ‘children’s author’ of a quality, publishable book they are proud to be author of. And, I’ve gotten to help them achieve that particular dream. That makes me smile.

How do you know who you’re hiring?

I know I said price doesn’t necessarily equal quality, but you do need to know who you’ll be working with. Here are a few tips to help you determine the quality of the writer:

1. Check out the ghostwriter’s testimonials, website, and blog.
2. See if the site and everything on it looks and sounds professional.
3. See if the blog posts give you an idea that the writer knows what she’s talking about.
4. You should also check out the About page. Learn who the writer is affiliated with and other tidbits of information.
5. Check the ghostwriter’s work.
6. Ask for samples of her or his writing.

Hot Tip: You should also do a Google search. That’s how most of my clients find me. Google goes for quality. They won’t put a ‘scam or shabby’ website in their results for a search query. This is a great test for quality, especially if the results (the link shown) isn’t a paid ad.

Summing it up.

As a writer for hire, there is no ‘magic’ pricing point. You have to charge what you and the clients who hire you are satisfied with.

Don’t always equate price with quality. While in some cases this does matter, it doesn’t always. Do some research into the children’s ghostwriter you’re thinking of working with. Using the tips I have just above, you should be able to determine if that writer knows her stuff.

MORE ON WRITING

What Makes a Good Story? Plot Driven vs. Character Driven
Editing a Children’s Book – 10 Tips Checklist for Authors
Being a Writer – Learn the Craft of Writing

NEED HELP WITH YOUR CHILDREN’S MANUSCRIPT / 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 of.

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

This article was updated January 2018.