Nov 11

Traditional Publishing – 4 Advantages to Consider

Submit your manuscriptWhile most everyone is hitting the self-publishing road, including most of my clients, there are some authors who yearn to be published through a publishing house.

Before I go on though, let me clarify what traditional publishing is as I just had a query from a new author who wasn’t sure about it.

Basically, traditional publishing is when you submit your manuscript to publishing companies that will PAY YOU to publish your book.

If the company thinks your book will be a good investment, they’ll give you a contract. It could take a year to two years for your book to actually get published.

Traditional publishing houses INVEST their money, time, and effort into publishing your book. You don’t pay them for anything!

These companies make their money back, and hopefully a profit, through your book sales.

The reason the term ‘traditional publishing’ is getting confusing is because a lot of services are labeling themselves as such while they’re really not.

So, again, if you have to pay a company even a dime, they’re not a traditional publisher.

Okay, back on track.

Some advantages to traditional publishing:

1. Recognition and validation.

When a publishing company thinks your manuscript has what it takes to sell, when they’re willing to back it up with their financial support, that’s validation.

You can jump around yelling, “It’s really good!” You’ve gotten approval from people in the industry.

This is not to say that some self-published books aren’t really good. But, if you need personal validation, getting it from a traditional publisher or literary agent is the way to go.

2. You have a team of professionals behind you.

Aside from very small publishers, you’ll have the benefit of professional editors, book designers, illustrators, and so on polishing your manuscript till is shines.

Companies that ‘help’ you publish your book (self-publishing services) don’t usually hire a professional staff. I’ve seen terrible editing and illustrations from some of these companies.

Tip: If you’re self-publishing, make sure you check out the portfolios of any service or individual you’re hiring to help you publish your book. And if you’re thinking of using a service, review their books before jumping on board. Check the books carefully.

3. You’ll get marketing help.

A publishing house wants to sell your book, that’s how they make their money.

While smaller publishing companies don’t really do too much in regard to marketing, you’re listed on their site which will have its own readership. This will broaden your marketing reach.

And, if they attend book fairs and such, you’ll have the opportunity to have your books displayed.

Any little bit of ‘extra’ marketing is helpful.

As the companies get bigger, they offer more marketing help. But, keep in mind that whether you’re working with a small, middle, or large publishing house, you’ll still need to promote your own books.

4. Opportunity comes with traditional publishing.

If you’re inclined to take advantage of your traditional publishing credit(s), you can use it to:

a. Write more books and seek traditional publishing.
b. Submit articles to magazines.
c. Offer your own writing services.
d. Give workshops.
e. Teach a class (online or off).

Getting a contract from a publishing house or signing on with a literary agent does give you some clout. It’s kind of like a stamp of approval.

Children's ghostwriterWhether you need rewriting or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: 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 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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Mar 04

Submitting to Publishers and Agents – Is There a Best Time?

Is there a right time?

Lately, I’ve had a number of clients who are going the traditional publishing route. Some are querying directly to book publishers and a couple are querying literary agents.

As I’ve helped a number of clients with their query letters. They can’t wait to submit the query as soon as their book is complete.

But . . .

I read an interesting article at Literary Agent Undercover and it discussed the best time to focus on submissions to literary agents.

It seems rather than submitting during a holiday season or during summer vacations, you should wait.

In fact, most publishers and agents close down for the summer (July and August) – they don’t accept queries.

During holidays most agents and publishers are busy with family and holiday things. They’re distracted. And, even if they may get your query and look it over and possibly be interested, you won’t have their full attention.

So, what should you do?

Best Bet . . .

Avoid the major holidays.

It may be tempting, with your manuscript ready to go, to shoot off queries to every publisher and agent who works within your niche. But, be patient. Wait until after the holiday.

With that said, another source at Writers Digest forum suggests not giving the time of year a second thought, except for possibly December.

Nothing ever seems to close down completely anymore.

The low men/women on the totem pole still man the helm for businesses during slow times. And, if it’s a smaller company, it’s likely the owner or other higher-up wouldn’t want something to slip by. They wouldn’t want to miss a possible best-selling book.

And, in most of these companies your query will go in a slush pile in the order received. This is whether it’s mail during a holiday, on a Sunday, or whenever. That query will have its place and will have to wait to be read until the ones received before it have been read (or at least glanced at).

Mary Kole of weighs in on this topic and notes that November is Nano month. That means lots and lots of manuscripts are heading off to publishers and agents the beginning of December.

Kole also notes, “Publishing mostly slumbers from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, so a lot of agents are using this time to catch up with work, read manuscripts and get all of our affairs for the upcoming year in order.” (1)

What about a particular day or time?

As for the day or time-of-day, it doesn’t seem to matter. Sunday through Saturday. You never know when an agent or publisher will be checking mail or email.

What matters is writing a GOOD story. And, be sure it’s been edited and proofed. Make sure it’s polished. That’s the best advantage you can possibly give yourself.

Summing it up.

1. Avoid the major holidays, December in particular.
2. No matter when your query is received, it will be placed in a slush pile behind the ones received before it.
3. Day and time-of -day doesn’t seem to matter when submitting a query. Aside from December, when your manuscript is ready, shoot it off.
4. Most publishers and agents will let you know (on their website) if they’re closed for July and August.
5. Your best chance of landing a contract is creating a really good story that’s polished.
6. Create a grabbing query letter.
7. In general, expect to wait around 3 months for a response.


To help you track seasonal differences in the response times of queries, you can check out:

This site also lists top literary agents and publishers and provides tools to keep your queries organized. And, you’ll have the benefit from the collective knowledge of thousands of other authors. And, it’s FREE!


Best Time to Submit to Literary Agents?

Be a children's writerBeing 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 my 170+ page ebook (or paperback) that gives you all the basics of WRITING FICTION FOR CHILDREN. It’s newly revised and includes information on finding a publisher or agent, and marketing your books.

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Oct 22

Small Home-Grown Book Publishers – Good or Bad?

Publishing with Small PressesI’m thrilled to announce that I have an article up at Writer’s Digest!

It’s about the pros and cons of working with very small book publishers. What I mean by “very small” is the publishers that are primarily one-man or one-woman businesses.

While these home-grown publishers can be a life-saver for the new author and certainly do have benefits, there are a few things to be aware of before jumping in.

Here’s the very beginning:

As a new author or even if you have one or two books under your self-publishing belt, you may be thinking of entering the traditional publishing arena.

I’ve been there and have had my share of rejections from the larger well-known publishing houses.

But, I didn’t let that discourage me … well, not entirely.

While disappointed, I dug in my heels and attended writers conferences and joined writing groups. In one of the online conferences I attended, small publishers were on hand to take pitches from authors. Naturally, I took advantage of this opportunity. I gave my pitch and the owner of the publishing house asked to see my manuscript.

Excitement, excitement.

Check out the full article – it has very helpful information and insights into publishing with a small home-grown publisher:

The Pros and Cons of Publishing with a Small Publisher

HEY! While you’re there, please SHARE and COMMENT!

Children's ghostwriterWhether you need rewriting or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box.

Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your book in publishable shape today!

Oct 08

Traditional Publishing and Self-Publishing – The Differences

Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

It seems the publishing waters are getting murkier and murkier.

I think the most significant difference between ‘real’ traditional publishers and services that are NOT ‘real’ traditional publishers (vanity presses, self-publishers, and others) is the cost. This is aside from ‘quality’ in many cases.

If you are submitting to a ‘real’ traditional publisher, you will NOT PAY A PENNY.

What the ‘Real’ Traditional Publishing House Will Do

Let’s suppose that the publishing house, after they’ve read your manuscript, decided to give you a contract. They’ll then take your manuscript and request revisions if needed. After that it’s on to editing and proofing. They do it all and use professional writers.

Once the manuscript is polished, or possibly while it’s in the process, the publishing house will have the illustrations, layout, design, and covers done. The publishing house will cover all expenses.

You will pay nothing.

The publishing house gets its income from the sales of your book. The publishing house wants to sell your book.

You will get a royalty from the sale of each book. And, unless you’re with a major book publisher, you won’t get an advance on royalties.

The royalties are usually somewhere around 10 percent. It may be higher for ebooks. And, you may get the royalty quarterly or less often.

So, while you don’t have to pay a penny, you likely won’t get rich from your books.

What Does Self-Publishing Services Do?

Self-publishing services will also do everything you need done to publish your book. BUT, you will pay for each service individually or in a package.

You’ll pay to have the book edited, proofed, formatted, layout, illustrations, and so on and so on and so on.

While you get most, if not all, of the money from the sale of your books, there’s no guarantee that you’ll recoup the cost of self-publishing.

These services make their money from you, the author. They have NO vested interest in you selling a single book. Again, they’ve already made their money.

Another important aspect of self-publishing a children’s picture book or chapter book is you will need illustrations. This will be an added cost.

NOTE: Picture book illustrations can be expensive and you’ll need a bare minimum of 12 – 14 interior and a cover. You might also want a back cover illustration.

Interior illustrations can run from $80 per to $500 per. It depends on the illustrator you work with. Book covers are usually double the cost of an interior illustration.

I’ve had clients who have paid upwards of $10,000 for illustrations for one book.

Usual Time Frame of ‘Real’ Publishing Houses

The other thing that’s distinctive about ‘real’ traditional publishers is it can take 16-24 months for your book to get published (available for sale) from the time you sign your contract. This is especially true for picture books.

And, keep in mind that it takes that long after you’ve gotten a contract, if you get a contract; there are no guarantees. Don’t forget to include the time it takes for researching publishers, submissions, rejections, and repeat.

Yes, you have to be patient. But, again, you pay nothing. And, you have the clout of a traditional publisher behind you.

Time Frame for Self-Publishing Services

I think this can be anywhere from a two-weeks to four months, or so, after you have a polished manuscript. The four+ months would be if children’s illustrations were involved.

It can be pretty quick!

Quality of Traditionally Published Books

I’ve self-published and I’ve traditionally published. And, I’ve read many, many, many books in my niche. ‘Real’ traditionally published books are usually of a much higher quality.

This goes from the cover illustration to the interior illustrations, to the editing, to the formatting, and so on.

A big reason for this is the quality control that goes into a book being published with a traditional publisher. The illustrators and editors are professionals and do quality work.

Quality of Self-Publishing Services

While you can have the same services done through self-publishing, you’ll pay for each of the services offered. The down-side is often the writers, editors, and illustrators working for these companies are less than qualified or professional.

This is just the way it goes. The service needs to keep its costs down.

So, be super careful when choosing a self-publishing service.

Which Is Better?

This question is a personal one.

It could be you’ve tried to get a traditional publishing contract, but it just didn’t work out. This may not mean your book isn’t good, it means the publishing industry in overwhelmed with books.

Chicken Soup for the Soul received 144 rejections before getting a contract with a small publisher.

Or, it could be you have the ‘I want it now’ publishing syndrome. The thought of having to wait even six-months or a year to get your book published is more than you can handle.

I personally think if you have the time, try traditional publishing first. Even if you’re impatient, give it six months. You just never know.

If you feel self-publishing is the way to go for you, GO for it.

While there are lots of less-than-professional services out there, there are also some good ones. You’ll have to do your homework. Research services. Review some of their books.

Below are two articles that may be helpful:
- (Sorry, couldn’t get the URL to hyperlink.)

Also, the last link from The Alliance of Independent Authors’ Advice Center links to The Watchdog Desk and Choosing the Best Self-Publishing Services for You.

No matter what publishing path you take, you want a quality published book. You want a marketable and saleable book.

You want a book you’ll be proud to be the author of.

What are your thoughts on traditionally publishing and self-publishing?

Traditional Publishing Royalties
Should You Pay to Publish

Children's ghostwriterWhether you need rewriting or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box.

Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your book in publishable shape today!


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Apr 16

Traditional Book Publishing – Contract to Sales to Career

Submitting to traditional publishersYou’ve chosen to write books, possibly children’s books, and you’ve done it right. You did your homework and learned the craft of writing. You created a polished manuscript and submitted it to publishers.

And, knowing it’s not necessarily the best writer who gets published, but the one who perseveres, you were steadfast and didn’t let initial rejections and lapse of time prevent you from moving forward.

Now, it’s finally happened – all your hard work paid off. A publisher accepted your book and you’re on your way.

But, this is far from the end of your writing journey . . . this is just the beginning.

After your book is accepted for publication, there are three steps you will go through on your writing journey . . . if you intend to make writing books a career.

1. The Book Contract

Once you get a publishing contract, you may want to sign it as soon as you can.


Be sure to read the contract carefully before signing it. If you don’t understand something, ask for an explanation. Once you’re sure everything in the contract is okay and you agree with it, sign away.

After you sign a contract, you’ll be ‘put in queue’ and at some point editing with the publisher’s editor will begin. This will most likely involve revisions to your manuscript. This is okay. It’s part of the process.

Keep in mind that the publisher wants your book to succeed as much as you do. Everything they do is to make it better.

After the story is revised, edited, and proofed, it’ll be ready to go. Depending on the genre you’re writing in, if it’s a children’s book, the publisher will have illustrations created. Your book will also need a book cover.

From contract to actual release, the publishing process can take around 18-24 months.

2. Book Promotion

Once you’re in the submission phase of your manuscript, even before you have a contract, you should begin creating an author website and platform. This will help you create visibility for you and your book. And, publishers want to know their authors are capable of promoting their own books.

You need to become a ‘blip’ on the internet radar. To create and maintain this ‘blip,’ you’ll need to post content to your site on a regular basis and use a number of other strategies to extend your promotional reach. This will include using social media.

After your book’s release, you will want to take part in virtual and real book tours, do radio guest spots (online and off), do school visits, and all the other standard book promotion strategies. You can do this on your own or you can hire a book promotion service or publicist, if it’s within your book marketing budget.

There’s much involved in book promotion, so if you can afford it make use of professionals. Just be sure to ask around for recommendations. You want to use a service or individual who knows what they’re doing and who will give you value for your money.

TIP: Book promotion generates book sales.

You can check out these articles for book marketing tips:

Book Marketing – The Foundation
The Author Platform – You Definitely Need One and It Should Have Been Started Yesterday

3. A Writing Career

Now, you’ve got your children’s book and you’re promoting it like crazy (this is an ongoing process). This is super-exciting and the beginning of your writing career.

To have a writing career though, you need to repeat the process. This means you need to write and publish other stories. Ideally, you should have been writing a new story or stories when you were waiting to get a contract for your first manuscript.

If you haven’t been writing new stories, get started now.

Keep in mind though that it’s not about quantity. It’s about quality.

You want to write good books. You want to take your time to make sure you create books that will engage the reader. Books that the reader will want see what happens on the next page.

This will establish you as a good writer.

But, a writing career can also be about more than just book sales. It can open doors and lead to other writing opportunities. These opportunities include: speaking engagements, conducting workshops, teleseminars, webinars, and coaching.

Summing It Up

Writing books, whether children’s books or other, is about learning the craft. And, if you’re taking the traditional publishing route, it’s about submitting to publishers and getting contracts. Then it’s about book marketing and repeating the process.

Keep your focus on your goal and persevere.

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Be a children's writerBeing 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 my 180 page ebook that gives you all the basics of Fiction Writing for Children, finding a publisher or agent, and marketing your books. GET STARTED TODAY!

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Aug 03

Children’s Writing and Publishing Process – The Traditional Path

Writing and Publishing

Children’s books fall into one of three primary categories: picture books, middle grade, and young adult. And, children’s writers need to take the necessary steps to achieve success whether aiming at traditional publishing or self-publishing.

In regard to traditional publishing, there are four steps in a writing career: writing, submissions to agents and publishers, book sales, and a writing career.

1. Writing

Actually writing, and all that it entails, is the basis of a career in writing, whether writing books, articles, becoming a ghostwriter, or copywriter. And, each of these career goals takes a number of steps that involve time and effort. But, we’re focusing on writing for children.

A. The first step is to write, but in addition to writing, the new writer will need to learn the craft of writing, along with the particular tricks of writing for children. Children’s writing is more complicated than other forms of writing. The reason is because you’re dealing with children.

Rules, such as age-appropriate words, age-appropriate topics, age-appropriate comprehension, storylines and formatting are all features that need to be tackled when writing for children.

Within the first step rung, you will also need to read, read, and read in the genre you want to write. Pay special attention to recently published books and their publishers. What works in these books? What type of style is the author using? What topics/storylines are publisher’s publishing?

Dissect these books, and you might even write or type them word-for-word to get a feel for writing that works. This is a trick that writers new to copywriting use – you can trick your brain into knowing the right way to write for a particular genre or field. Well, not so much trick your brain as teach it by copying effective writing. Just remember, this is for the learning process only – you can not use someone else’s work, that’s plagiarism.

If you need extra help writing your story, check out my book on writing for children: How to Write a Children’s Fiction Book.

B. The next step, number two, is to become part of a critique group and have your work critiqued. Critiquing is a two-way street; you will critique the work of other member of the critique group and they will critique yours. But, there are advantages to critiquing other writers’ works – you begin to see errors quickly and notice what’s being done right. This all helps you hone your craft.

C. Step three on the writing rung is to revise your manuscript according to your own self-editing and critiques from others. It’s also recommended to put the story away for a couple of weeks and then revisit it. You’ll see a number of areas that may need revising that you hadn’t noticed before.

There are also some self-editing steps you can take to help the process. You can check out:

Ten Tips Checklist for Self-Editing

D. It would also be advisable if you budget for a professional editing of your manuscript before you begin submissions. No matter how careful you and your critique partners are, a working editor will pick up things you missed.

2. Submissions

Before you think about submitting your work anywhere, be sure you’ve completed the necessary steps in number one. You’re manuscript needs to be as polished as you can possibly get it.

Submissions can fall into two categories: those to publishers and those to agents. In regard to submitting to agents, in a Spring 2011 webinar presented by Writer’s Digest, agent Mary Kole advised to “research agents.” This means to find out what type of agent they are in regard to the genre they work with and the agent platform they provide: do they coddle their authors, do they crack the whip, are they aggressive, passive, involved, or complacent. Know what you’re getting into before querying an agent, and especially before signing a contract.

Here are a couple of sites you can visit to learn about agents:

The same advice works for submitting to publishers also. Research publishers before submitting to them. Know which genres of children’s books they handle and the type of storylines they’re looking for.

Whether submitting to a publisher or an agent, always follow the guidelines and always personalize the query. There may be times the guidelines do not provide the name of the editor to send the query to, but if you can find that information, use it.

According to Mary Kole, it’s also important to know how to pitch your story. This entails finding the story’s hook. Agents and publishers also want to know what the book’s selling points will be and what successful books it’s similar to. In addition, they will expect to be told what your marketing strategy will be. It’s a good idea to create an online presence and platform before you begin submissions; let the agents and publishers know you will actively market your book.

Along with the story’s hook, you need to convey: who your main character is and what he/she is about; the action that drives the story; the main character’s obstacle, and if the main character doesn’t overcome the obstacle, what’s at stake.

Ms. Kole recommends reading “the back of published books” to see how they briefly and effectively convey the essence of the story. This will give you an idea of how to create your own synopsis.

When querying, keep your pitch short and professional, and keep your bio brief and relevant. You will need to grab the editor or agent and make them want to read your manuscript.

3. A Contract and Book Sales

If you do your homework, you’re manuscript will eventually find a home. Don’t let initial rejections, if you receive them, deter you. A published writer may not be the best writer, but she is definitely a writer who perseveres.

After you sign a contract, you’ll be ‘put in queue’ and at some point begin editing with the publisher’s editor. From start to actual release, the publishing process can take one to two years.

A couple of months prior to your book’s release, you should begin promotion to help with book sales. After its release, you will want to take part in virtual book tours, workshops, webinars, blogtalk radio guest spots, school visits (if available), and all the other standard book promotion strategies.

Be sure to also create your Amazon Author page and fill in everything you can to make readers aware of you and your books.

And, don’t forget to get reviews. Book reviews help sell books. You can find out more about getting and using book reviews effectively with How to Get Great Book Reviews by Carolyn Howard-Johnson.

4. A Writing Career

Now, you’ve got your book and you’re promoting it like crazy (this is an ongoing process). The next and final step is to repeat the process. You don’t want to be a one-hit wonder, so hopefully you’ve been writing other stories. If not, get started now. On average, an author writes a book every one to two years.

Along with keeping up with writing your books, having published books opens other writing opportunities, such as speaking engagements, conducting workshops and/or teleseminars, and coaching. There are a number of marketers who say your ‘book’ is your business card; it conveys what you’re capable of and establishes you as an expert in your field or niche. Take advantage of these additional avenues of income.


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

Send an email to: (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line)

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