New Kid in Town: Tips for New Children's Writers
by Marlene Perez
". . . children's writers should learn their craft before focusing on publication."
When I started in children's writing, I felt like I was ten, opening the door to an unknown classroom, and the new kid in town once again. Although that feeling hasn't entirely left, I gradually made new friends, figured out some of the rules of children's writing and turned in my first paper (an article for a regional publication).
Fortunately, on the way to publication, I met experienced writers who shared tips they learned during their journey from new writer to published author. The most common advice was that, first and foremost, children's writers should learn their craft before focusing on publication.
"Read and re-read."
Mary Pearson, the author of young adult novels including Scribbler of Dreams, advised to read and re-read. She says, "The first read through allows you to internalize the rhythms of good writing and to naturally soak in good technique. The second read gives you a more critical intellectual look at good writing. You pick apart what makes it work and apply it to your own writing."
". . . it's time to learn the rules of submission."
Once you've read a thousand or so books and have worked at learning your craft, it's time to learn the rules of submission. Linda Johns, whose picture books include Sarah's Secret Plan and To Pee Or Not To Pee, said the best advice she received was to purchase a Children's Writers and Illustrators Market. This market guide has pages of helpful information on getting started, how to submit and what a manuscript should look like. One common submission error is to put the copyright symbol on your manuscript. Annette Curtis Klause, author of Blood and Chocolate, pointed out that copyrighting your manuscript gives the impression that you don't trust the publishers.
The first time I submitted anything, I sent in a query on a picture book manuscript. Imagine my delight when my query was accepted. I spent the next few months waiting. I didn't write a word, I was too busy mentally spending my advance. Imagine my shock when I received my first rejection letter. I've since learned to write as much as possible while waiting for a response. The more polished manuscripts you have out, the better your chances are for publication.
"Real authors get lots of rejections."
Terry Miller Shannon, who has sold over 200 magazine articles, said that the best tip someone gave her was, "Real authors get lots of rejections." Terry said it made her feel like a member of an elite club and helped her maintain a positive attitude during the dreaded "rejection collection" stage of her career.
"Beware of an absolute do or don't rule."
Finally, young adult writer Melissa Wyatt said the best advice she can give is, "Beware of an absolute do or don't rule. There are no absolutes in writing. It is important to understand why you are breaking those so-called rules."
About the Author
Marlene Perez is author of several emergent readers for the educational market. The books are sold to elementary schools and are available via catalogues for The Wright Group/McGraw-Hill (at http://www.wrightgroup.com/ ). Marlene has also contributed to the publisher's new anthology, called Lights Out!
Marlene still occasionally feels like the new kid in town. Vvisit her website www.mardperez.com, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org