Saturday, February 2, 2008

Dick and Jane Don't Cut it Anymore

If you are interested in writing and or illustrating children’s books, young adult books, fiction, or non-fiction, you will need to study various aspects of the industry before you try to find a publisher.

I ran across a great site for Children’s authors, published or not. America Writes 4 Kids. There are just loads of links for anyone looking for some good quality resources. The Children’s Book Council, Highlights Foundation and more. The recommended read for February is “Can You Keep a Secret” by P.J. Petersen. Click here to visit his web page and take a look at the books he has written. Titles like “The Sub” and “I Hate Weddings”

I also found some great do’s at America Writes 4Kids to help guide you on the way to success. I’m going to follow them myself.

1. Learn the market. Spend lots of time in your local bookstore and library, reading through current bestsellers.

2. Perfect your craft. Before worrying about seeing your name in print, really learn how to write. Take courses, read "how-to" books, join a writing group, and so on. Master dialogue, characterization and plot. Write for the sake of writing, and enjoy the journey -- you'll have plenty of time to chase a publishing contract later.

3. Focus your attention on "hot" areas in children's publishing. Publishers continue to look for multicultural stories, nonfiction for all ages, horror stories and easy readers.

4. Request publisher guidelines and catalogs before submitting your work to a publisher. Study these to make sure your work is what the publisher is currently seeking.

5. Learn to write a crisp, upbeat query letter that will grab the attention of a harried editor.

6. Be persistent. Success as a writer rarely comes easily or quickly. Don't get discouraged by rejection...just keep writing!

Another very important DO is to join the Children’s Writers Coaching Club where you can learn all of the above from inspiring professionals. Learn to create a part or full time writing career of your dreams. Click here.

Now that you know WHAT to do, here is what NOT to do.
1. Assume today's kids' books are just like the ones you read as a child. Juvenile literature is more sophisticated, creative and far-ranging than ever before. Dick & Jane don't cut it anymore!

2. Get bogged down in clichés. Editors are sick of cute talking animals, "ugly duckling" stories about shy wallflowers who save the day, and moralistic tales that shout "it's OK to be different!" Strive for originality.

3. Treat kids like babies. Don't talk down to your readers. Use rich and interesting language that evokes strong visual images.

4. Preach. Your job as a writer is to entertain. If your story has a message, tell it through the plot and characters, not by a "moral" tacked on to the end.
Write it down,