Sunday, October 11, 2009

Meet Author Nancy I. Sanders!

Meet award winning author (and my dear friend) Nancy I. Sanders! This amazing author of over 75 books is on her Virtual Book Tour and she's stopped at Sherri Tales! Nancy's blog tour is reaching across the country, teaching and inspiring writers all along the way! On October the 3rd Nancy was a featured speaker at the SCBWI Editors Day at the Santa Ana Zoo. Writers were so eager to read about Nancy's successful strategies that ANY writer can use---she sold out of her books! Don't worry, you can get one on!

Are you ready for some exciting news? Nancy teaches you how to SIGN A CONTRACT without first writing the book. That's right. That's exactly what many writers do---but Nancy is the FIRST author to write a book about how to do that! Nancy and I signed contracts as coauthors for seven books BEFORE writing them---and YOU can too! Are you excited yet?

After reading this great interview, you'll want to pick up her one-of-a-kind book that even editors are talking about:

Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children's books,
Get Them Published,
and Build a Successful Writing Career!

by Nancy I. Sanders

Q: Nancy, what kind of encouraging comments or opinions have you received from editors about your thinking outside-of-the-box approach?

A: I’ve learned that there are two main types of editors: 1) Editors who are used to acquiring a completed manuscript and 2) Editors who are used to acquiring proposals and offering a contract before the manuscript is written. Usually, the editors who are used to acquiring a completed manuscript require agented submissions only. Or, they might require a completed picture book manuscript submission but will accept a proposal and offer a contract for a middle grade or young adult novel.

Most of the editors I work with are the ones who acquire proposals and offer contracts to write the book before it is actually written. These editors work in a full range of genre from picture books, to nonfiction books for kids, to middle grade novels, to educational books for teachers. It’s funny, but these editors don’t think my approach is outside-of-the-box. That’s the way they work and they usually work with career writers who are familiar with this procedure. They don’t want to acquire a manuscript that’s already written because they want to give their input from the outline on up to the finished project. They require this input so they want to offer a contract based on an author’s pitch or proposal for the projected manuscript.

I’ve learned to look for publishers who accept queries. If I’m not sure, I’ll query them first to check. If they respond and say that they require the completed manuscript first, I just move on. I keep looking for a publisher until I find one that accepts proposals. I want to earn income while I’m writing so I want to have that contract signed before I start to write. Of course, if I want to spend time writing a completed picture book or middle grade novel for personal fulfillment, then I go ahead and do that. Those are the manuscripts that I send out to the editors who require a completed manuscript up front.

Q: You have a helpful section in your book about writing and time management. What specific advice for writing time management would you give to moms of children still living at home? Many are talented, motivated writers, but find it hard to schedule writing time in their busy and often exhausting day.

A: I started writing when our second son was born, so I have a heart for busy moms with children at home. And yes, I offer a very detailed section on time management in my new book, Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career. In this section I tell how writers can start to build their career if they even just have one hour each day that they can sit down and write.

The exciting thing about being a mom with little ones at home is that they are actually in the best position to be a children’s writer! You see, even though technically I’m writing for 6-8 hours a day, I’m not sitting down at the computer for those many hours straight! I’m sitting on the couch reading current picture books for research. I’m washing the dishes while I brainstorm the next scene in my middle grade novel. I’m making a craft for my next nonfiction book for kids.

Moms with kids at home are in a fantastic position to start building a career as a children’s writer. If you’re a mom with your precious little ones in tow, here are some ways you can manage your time:

* Research: Grab the kids and head for your local library. Sit down with your kids and read them every book you can find on the topic you’re writing about. Then grab a huge stack to take home. Be sure to lug home more books than your library card allows ‘cause you’re lucky! You have extra library card carriers standing with you in line! Your kids!! Fill tote bags to overflowing and head back home where you can read, read, read your way through your research books while snuggled up with your toddlers on your couch at home.

* Study your craft: Watch your kid’s favorite videos over and over again sitting next to your children with pen and paper in hand. One time, study plot development. The next time study character development. The next time take notes on story arc, dialog, and setting. Take lots of notes and write down actual samples so you can learn from the pros.

* Lean How to Market Your Books: Take your kids to storytime, children’s shows, or go to school assemblies. Learn how to do school visits and author presentations. When you write a proposal for a new book, tell the editor you’ve got lots of ideas to get out there and help market your book.

* Setting: Go on a hike with your kids and hold brainstorming sessions for the manuscript you’re writing. Practice describing your surroundings together for words and ideas to develop your setting. Ask your kids to use words to describe the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of their world around them. Use these to jumpstart the setting in your manuscript.

* Dialogue: Invite your kids friends over for a play date. Listen in as they play together, eat snacks together, or even squabble together. Write down actual snippets of their dialogue. Your own skills at writing dialog will improve.

* Test your material: Want to give your manuscript a test? Test it out on your kids. Make a craft with them for a children’s magazine to see if it’s age appropriate and interesting enough to hold their attention. Read your story aloud to them and ask what parts they liked the most. Let them vote on three different titles or two different endings to your story.

The key is to develop the heart of a writer. Learn to look at everything through the eyes of a writer. Bond with your children during this precious and fleeting time of life and maximize the opportunity to grow as a writer. And then, during naptime or half an hour before they get up or after they go to bed, grab time at the computer and write that next scene in your manuscript. If you do, you’ll be all ready for tomorrow when you can get new material with your kids for the next part of your manuscript.

Thanks, Nancy! Great information!

Visit Nancy on her blog tour at:

She would love to read your comments!


Janet said...

Good interview and tips for a writer. I'd say it's probably easier for an already published writer to land a contract on a proposal, since they already have the experience and track record of having stories published. I might give querying a try, though, a rejection on a query couldn't be any worse than getting a rejection on a sent in manuscript -- right?

Sheryl Crawford said...

Hey, Janet (o;
Nice to hear from you. Sometimes I send a short sample of my work (very short!) but I NEVER write the whole book! a few lines sold my book that's coming out in November! Nancy talks about doing this long BEFORE she was a published, EXPERIENCED writer. She did NOT have a track record. She knew what she could write and queried magazine as well as book publishers with ideas. Yes! Send a query, Janet. Query magazines to get your feet wet. Query them with your ideas for puzzles, rebuses, stories, games, etc. Build your publishing resume (o;

Unknown said...

Yes, Janet, Sherri's right! My very first book contract was signed before I wrote the book--and the second and the third! I tell all about it in my book--so give it a try!

Unknown said...

Sherri, thanks so much for being a stop on my tour! It's such a joy to be on your blog today. Hugs, Nancy

Marilyn Donahue said...

Great interview! I have found that querying first is a big time saver. I'm sorry I didn't start doing this 20 years ago.

Also, when I research before writing a proposal, a whole world of information opens up with ideas for more and more projects. Hurrah!


Evelyn said...

Nice to get to stop by your blog again, Sherri. I love seeing all your books. Congratulations! And thanks for hosting this great interview with Nancy. I wish I'd known about writing opportunities when my kids were little.


Veronica said...

I'm going to have to give the query a try. I'm leaning towards magazines.

Thanks for the interview Nancy and Sherri. Lots of good tips to follow.


Write2ignite said...

Great interview! I'll be adding her book to my wishlist! I love that she has a section on time managment!


p.s. thanks for stopping by the
W2I blog! :)

Tina Cho said...

Thanks, Sherri, for posting a comment on my blog today. I do read your blog from time to time and I read Wordsmiths faithfully. I did meet you a year ago at my very first meeting at CHAIRS. Congrats on your new book with Scholastic!
~Tina Cho