“Surround yourself with people who know more than you and soak up knowledge like a sponge!” Pamela K Witte
So, you live to tell stories, write for kids? Yet it’s all pretty scary—hoping for that first book deal, thinking the children’s book industry is closed, that the gate reads DO NOT ENTER? And maybe you’re right, sometimes it is scary (just a little). That’s why Gate Crashers was born—to show new writers they are not alone.
And I’ll tell you, the gate is OPEN! The kidlit industry is the most friendly, helpful place in the world! I’m totally not kidding. Actually, I’m so serious about the helpful, welcoming nature of children’s writers, agents, editors and publishers that I set out to prove it. I got such overwhelming results; I decided to do it again!
I pulled on my lucky black heels, set out in search of more industry folks “In The Know” who’d share a bit of advice and queried a few. Guess what happened? I got more than I asked for. Don’t know how, exactly… That’s just the nature of the industry! People are helpful and hopeful. Why? Because if everyone’s getting published, (Young Adult, Middle-Grade and Picture Book writers) that means lots of kids are reading! Huzzah!
So when you’re feeling discouraged, just remember… Everyone’s felt like you!
Now, Open The Gate… Come inside.
Friends are waiting to welcome you!
Go for it!
Click the pics for awesome links!
Dianne de Las Casas
Award-Winning Author & Storyteller, There’s a Dragon in the Library & Many more!
The Story Connection
On the Craft of Writing:
Write what feels right to you. Don’t write to the trends or the hot topics, or to try to fill a gap in the market unless that is where your passion is taking you. Write books you would feel proud of reading ten, twenty, even thirty years from now. Once your words are printed, they live forever. You can’t take them back. So write the very best you have to give and it will always resonate with your readers.
On the Career of Writing:
Be an author who is accessible to your fans. Engage with them on various social media channels. Respond as best as you can. Good writing is important but so is building good relationships with your readers. A moment of kindness can earn your a reader for life.
Blogger, Jill Corcoran Books
Seriously consider an agent. Why? Because making a submission list takes a long time, because agents open doors to publishing houses. On finding an agent— check out Agent Query. http://www.agentquery.com/
On writing… Verbs are your most important words, dump your adverbs and use amazing verbs. Watch out for clichés. Avoid information dumps. Show, don’t tell. Use consistent dialogue that moves the story forward and develops character. Revise, revise, revise!
If you want to write chapter books, make them character driven with plot that goes on forever.
Every writer should read, The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master.
Go back to writing exercises. I sometimes forget that I have dozens of writing books on my shelf. But, a coworker wanted to use me as a guinea pig for an exercise to do with his class, so I obliged. It took 15 minutes. The exercise generated TWO new poems for me. Quick and easy. If it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t have those two poems. Since then, I’ve been doing one exercise a night. This will keep my mind doing creative work until I have time to get back to my WIPs in January.
My advice is to not send out your work too early. After you’ve finished the rough draft, make sure to let it sit long enough that you can read it objectively and revise accordingly. With my first attempt at getting an agent, I sent out my manuscript way too soon.
Joanne Gail Johnson
Series Editor of Macmillan’s Island Fiction “tween” novella series
I treated the submitted manuscripts I selected for Macmillan-Caribbean’s Island Fiction “tween” novellas, as first drafts. Initially, I frustrated the writers who worked and reworked their material before mailing in with one key challenge:
START with your best ideas, don’t build up to them.
Genius nuggets that await in a climax near the end of the book or chapter risk the likelihood of never getting read. Filling in the blanks between “good parts”, (even with clever writing, and entertaining style), spells serious danger. Craft a first sentence, first page, first chapter that is bubbling with your most compelling ideas; (consider how words are different from/ not necessarily or specifically ideas in this context). You will come directly to the Unknown of “Well now, what next? I’ve used up all my best stuff!! “Thoughtfully constraining and directing your output in this way will, by necessity, up-level and expand your omnipotent, creative vision for your story and characters. Concerned your word count won’t add up? That’s exactly the point! This way, from the reader’s (that means editor’s) point of view, every word will count.
On getting published: Stay in-tuition.
K. M. Weiland
Writers write. If you’re not writing, you’re not a writer. Harsh, but also true. We have to make time every day write. Choose a time and write it in blood on your schedule if you have to, then guard your allotted writing time with a machete and flamethrower. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing eight hours a day or just fifteen minutes. What’s important is that you’re consistently showing up at your desk and putting words on paper (or screen). If you’re doing that, you are a writer, published yet or not, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.
You have a great idea, or ten. What now?
Research can be important to help fill in the details of your ideas. Go broad and deep: to make writing look effortless you often have to know more than you show. Discuss your ideas with others if you want to; writing is such a solitary pursuit that you can forget you have support, and a community can help remind you that you’re not alone. A writing group–whether for support or criticism–is sometimes helpful. Have a routine, if you can; thinking about your work as a routine part of your life, and setting aside a time to write help to deflect the distractions of the internet, TV, reading, doing household chores.
But at the end of the day the most important thing for a writer to do is to write.
Gabrielle Blue/ Sisters Tessa Blue Jones and Cheryll (Gabby) Ganzel
Ignore those who ask what you do for a living, then give you a blank look when you say, “I’m a writer,” and return with, “Yes, but what do you do for a living?” Ignore those who tell you the odds of making it as a writer are really, really bad. Ignore those who tell you you
cannot possibly be a writer unless you’ve taken writing classes at a college. Ignore the negative people, the well-meaning relatives, and the advice of people who Don’t Get It. Ignore them all! It’s your life, your dream. Work hard and you’ll make it happen.
It’s never too early to start treating writing like a career. Find a system that helps you to consistently make progress on your draft, whether it be setting deadlines, working with daily word count goals, scheduling your writing time–whatever works best for you. Learn about the industry by reading books, blogs, or attending conferences. Connect with other writers, either in your local area or online, and have them critique your drafts, pushing you to make them the best they can be. Writing may be a passion–but publishing is a job, and the more you train yourself to treat it like one, the better prepared you’ll be when your book sells.
Kimberley Griffiths Little
Get Yourself a Mentor or Writing Partner! I wrote alone for years and years, not knowing any other writers. I didn’t know about writer’s conferences or SCBWI. This is before Blogging and Facebook were born. We are now so fortunate to be able to connect with other writers–well published and experienced writers through blog posts and Google searching and agents and editors who are blogging. Information is free for the taking!
But for some of those Shrinking Violets out there, you still need to put yourself out there, GO to one of your local conferences, meet people, schmooze, take classes, and eventually you’ll meet some writing friends that can be your critique group, your mentors, and your shoulder to cry on through the learning and rejection process. Once I did that, my skills grew and I started to publish. But it does take time so you *must* be Persistent and Patient. And Enjoy the Process!”
Whenever I get stuck in life, I look at what I’m doing and ask myself one question: “Is it worth it?” Did you know it takes the average traditionally published novelist ten years to get a first book published? Did you know the average advanced earned on that book is $5,000, and that most books don’t earn back their advance? Did you know that for most debut novelists, their first traditionally published book is also their last? So I ask you, “Is it worth it?”
I asked myself this question after nine years of submitting my work to agents, seven novels and 40 picture books written, many conferences attended, writing contests won, numerous requests for full manuscripts, and mostly glowing rejection letters. And after nine years, the answer was no. I was like Dorothy and her friends standing in front of the Wizard after defeating the Wicked Witch. After all I’d put into it, I discovered traditional publishing couldn’t give me anything I didn’t already have. So now I’m indie publishing my seven novels, one at a time. I’m also looking into turning my picture books into multimedia eBooks. Is it worth it? So far the answer is definitely.
Tidbits Of Wisdom. In stream of consciousness: Don’t give up. Learn what the rules are. Then forget the rules. Try your best. Take a break. Jump in a fountain and then go to a great movie. Sleep a bit. Go skiing or for a run. Then start writing again. Working out also gets your brain working when it wants to stop. Don’t stop. Stop only when you need to breathe. Don’t forget to breathe. Use an inhaler of good books, good food, good friends, good conversation, good ambiance. Be good to yourself. Don’t make excuses. Keep going no matter what. Breathe some more. Jump in the fountain again. Let people read your work. Read it yourself with their opinions in mind. Be ruthless and take the best advice to make your work better. Keep dreaming.
Learn to embrace constructive criticism, no matter how tough it is to hear sometimes. I promise if you pay attention it will make you a better writer.
I remember with my first book how hard it was to see a sentence changed and reworded. It felt as though someone had changed my feelings at that moment, this may sound like a strange thing to say but sometimes the truth is strange. I was actually hurt and upset and frankly a little angry which seems just silly to me now. I said nothing however just sat around boiling rabbits in my mind for a few days until I realized how ridiculous I was being. How much energy I had wasted with needless negative energy. The book came out and was beautiful, perfect, and as I read it with the changes included I thought to myself; hey this is much better the editor’s way. After all this is what an editor’s job is while creating your finished book. They have to fix the author’s funny grammar mistakes, punctuation and reword the sentences that you wrote at two am completely backwards. They love their jobs just as much as you love yours, so be respectful and agreeable knowing that they are looking at your book with a clear mind.
See I could have used a great editor for this whole paragraph. I hope you always see the rainbows in the bubbles in your bathtub
Nancy K Wallace
Librarian, author of Christmas Cats
If you truly want to become a writer, then never give up on that dream. I am convinced that the most important attribute of a successful author is persistence. For years, my life had a pattern: send out a manuscript, get a rejection, cry for two days, and send out another manuscript. Then my first two magazine sales came within three days of each other. Three years later, I signed book contracts for seven books in the same year. It can happen to you, too. Someday, your manuscript will land on the desk of the right editor, at the exact right moment, and suddenly everything will fall into place! Never ever give up!
Braxton A. Cosby
Whatever you do, do it with all your heart. In life we all get discouraged if the outcomes do not seem to match up with the effort we put into it. We should always stay encouraged with the fact that our efforts, if lead by inspiration conceived from our hearts, will always be fruitful in the end; even if not in the time frame of our choosing. Find the vision, make the commitment, and believe in the story you create, no matter what. We will all accomplish what we set out to do with our writing if we do not give up before the breakthrough!
Now that you’ve read all this great stuff, share your thoughts, leave a comment. How do you feel about writing? What are your experiences and words of welcome? If you’re a published author, agent, editor, publisher or media guru let me know. I’d love to welcome you to the growing list of Gate Crashers! (Oh, and please spread the word!)