Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Info Galore in the 2010 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market

The Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market Guide used to be the only place an author could acquire information about what publishers want and how to send it. Now we have the Internet with guidelines and even complete book catalogs filling our screen. Some writers don't use the market guide each year and simply go to the publishing websites. Personally, I like to use the current market guide and the web side-by-side. Look at some of the articles included in this information packed book:
  • Inspirational stories from first time authors about how they landed that first book!
  • Quick tips for Writers & Illustrators: This covers topics that are especially helpful to the new writer and illustrator.
  • Before Your First Sale: You'll learn about cover letters, queries, proposals, manuscript formats, resumes, submissions, agents & art reps.
  • Running Your Business: This section covers contracts & negotiations, payment methods, copyright, great sources for contract help, and more.
  • Evolving Children's Book Publishing by Kelly Milner Halls: This article is a must read if you want to stay up to date in today's changing market! Follow her five steps.
Other articles cover writing humor with tips from the pros, revision, writing for reluctant readers, writing series for book packagers, social networking, book promotion, and much more. Whew!

This awesome book by Alice Pope does far more than give information on publishing houses---it also inspires, teaches, and helps keep writers up to date in this rapidly changing industry. In my opinion it's a valuable tool for the children's writer. I've already got my 2010 edition and it's right next to my computer. Got yours?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Fatal Flaw That Affects Us All

Marjorie Flathers is my friend and a fellow Wordsmith (our critique group). It is a delight to know her, and a privilege to learn from her expertise as a writer! She has been a successful free-lance writer for over 26 years. Marjorie's work has appeared in print well over 300 times in a variety of magazines, newspapers, and anthologies for writers and knitters. This writing pro has a degree in English and is a source of inspiration as well as knowledge about the world of publishing. She has graciously permitted me to present her post, A Fatal Flaw That Affects Us All. Pay close attention!

Here's Marjorie:

Many times people (usually non-writers who are naive or uninformed) have asked me, “Why don’t you just make a list of all the publishers available and send your manuscripts to every one? A publisher is bound to take it eventually!” This may or may not be true, and with a computer, following such a plan would seem to be a simple and easy thing to do. However, there’s a fatal flaw with this thinking, one that affects all writers.

Besides the high frustration level from all the rejections that will result when writers fail to do basic research on the kind of manuscripts each publishing house is looking for, editors’ are then flooded with submissions. Most of these submissions are inappropriate for their house, thus the dreaded slush pile. Over and over at writers’ conferences, editors speak of the overwhelming number of manuscripts they receive that are nothing like the books on their particular lists.

For example, textbook publishers often receive picture books. Publishers who do specialize in picture books receive YA novels describing teen angst. Even the larger houses who publish many different types of children’s books lean towards certain types of books. This is when an authors computer comes in handy. It’s easy to check publishers’ catalogs and guidelines online and to understand each one’s publishing niche. This is the first step any writer needs to take before he or she even thinks about writing a book or magazine piece.

Perhaps some writers still think that by using the “scatter-shot” method of submitting, their “excellent” manuscripts will so impress editors that they will want to publish something “different,” i.e., that writer’s book. But the truth is that as more and more writers do this, the slush pile grows larger and larger... thus the reason many publishing houses are closing their doors to ALL unsolicited or un-agented manuscripts. This is sad news for everyone.

We owe it to ourselves and to our fellow writers, aspiring and already published writers, to pay attention to the obvious first step and be aware of each publishers specialties.

When we do this, everyone in the publishing industry benefits.

c 2008 Marjorie Flathers

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Manuscript Goes Through All of THAT?

Ever wondered what a manuscript goes through before it ends up in the bookstores? Each publisher has its own process. Here's a glimpse (given to me by an editor of a major publishing house) of the GENERAL process from receiving a manuscript to publication:

TIME LINE - 3 MONTHS: Your Manuscript in the Hands of an Editor
  • An Editor reads your manuscript. If it has promise, it's passed to other editors.
  • The question is asked: Does the proposal meet our needs?
Goes to Publishing Board:
  • An Editor assembles the proposal, sample, and author bio.
  • Talks to marketing
  • Prepares sales info
  • Presents the product to board

TIME LINE - 1 to 2 MONTHS: Contract with the Author
  • Set up tentative schedule for production
  • Get costs from production. Stateside or overseas?
  • Get marketing projections
  • Approve the budget
  • Send contract to author

Launch the Product
  • Discuss with design the kind of illustrations, format and style
  • Discuss with marketing the best approach for marketing with other books in the line.
  • THE WORK---Complete the following:
1. Approvals for art/title/cover
2. Edits (work with author)
3. Proofreading
4. Corrections
5. Register Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data
6. Put in sales catalog
7. Final budget approval
8. Transmit to production

TIME LINE - 5 to 6 months:

  • Scan the art and put on disc
  • Send all to printer
  • Check color proofs
  • Print and bind book---preview copy is sent to publisher
  • Release book
  • Put final marketing plans in place
  • Print out material for sales representatives
  • Sales conference: Promote next season's products to sales force
verage time line = 18 months. It can take as long as 2 years depending on the publisher. WHEW! What a process. So, if YOUR book has been published, all I can say is