Getting Started Writing for Children

You have written a story, or have a great idea for a story for children. Now what? How do you get it published? Who do you contact and what do you do to make your dream become a reality? Where do you start? If it's a picture book, how do you find an illustrator? Do you need an agent? How do you find one? How can you be sure someone won't steal your story and/or idea?

These are just some of the questions most new writers need to have answered in order to "get started" as a writer of children's stories. This page will attempt to give you some of the answers to these questions -- and many more. If your basic questions aren't answered, please
email Verla with your questions and she will do her best to get answers to them posted here in the near future. Please put Website Questions in the subject line of your email.

The first thing you need to do is stop and relax. Take a deep breath. You have made a great decision -- that of wanting to get started in the field of writing for children. It's a wonderful occupation and most people who stick with it wouldn't trade it for any other job in the world.

But to start, you are going to need some "basic" information. The following is an attempt to give you some things to think about while starting your new career.

The Basics:
from Verla Kay
Author of...

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1) Buy a copy of the Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market guidebook edited by Alice Pope. This book is absolutely vital to every serious writer of children's stories. In it, you will find wonderful tips and hints on how to get started writing for children, as well as the most comprehensive listing of publishers of children's literature available to the public today. This is the book that will tell you how to submit your stories and where to submit them.

2) Join SCBWI, the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. This is the best professional organization around for writers of children's literature. The people in it are helpful, caring and extremely informative. There are chapters all over the world and through it you can attend workshops and conferences at discounted prices and make contact with many successful writers, agents, and editors in the children's field of literature. Currently, it costs $85 to join for a year and then it is $70 to renew thereafter. Most successful children's authors will agree it's one of the most helpful steps they ever took. More about SCBWI.

3) Join or start a critique group. This will be one of the best steps you can take to further your career as a children's writer. SCBWI puts out a roster that will help you to locate other children's writers in your area or you can search for and/or advertise for critique partners on the Critique Groups board on the Message Board of this website.

While it can be helpful to be involved in a critque group that does all genres, you may find it most helpful to be in a group that concentrates on just children's literature. Writing for children is a unique field, and it has special concerns and skills that are not the same as those needed when writing for adults.

4) And don't let ANYONE tell you that writing for children is easier than writing for adults or that you should start out writing for children and then later "move up" to writing for adults. If you want to write for adults, then just do it and don't waste your time trying to learn to write for children. It's just as hard, if not harder, to get published as a children's writer as it is writing for grown-ups, so it's best to start out in the genre where you want to end up.

Some basic How to Write books that I have found indispensable are:
The Elements of Style by Strunk & White
Writing for Children & Teenagers by Lee Wyndham
How to Write & Illustrate Children's Books by Bicknell & Trotman
The Children's Picture Book by Ellen Roberts
How To Write a Children's Book and Get it Published by Barbara Seuling
Writing with Pictures by Uri Shulevitz
Also from Verla Kay
Make your own Character Chart
 
Some basic books on The Business Part of Writing that I have found indispensable are:
The Writer's Digest Guide to Manuscript Formats by Buchman & Groves
Business & Legal Forms for Authors & Self-Publishers by Crawford
Author to Editor: Query Letter Secrets of the Pros by Linda Arms White (order via the Write4Kids website)
How to get Happily Published by Appelbaum & Evans
Time Management for Writers by Schwarz
 
Some absolutely vital books on Where and How to Submit Your Writing are:
The Young Writer's Guide to Getting Published by Kathy Henderson (For children wanting to get published)
The (CWIM) Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market guidebook by Alice Pope (For adults wanting to get published in children's literature)

The Basics:
from Mary E. Pearson
Author of...

PICKLES IN MY SOUP
Children's Press/Grolier
1999
Easy Reader
DAVID VS GOD
Harcourt Brace
Spring 2000
Young Adult
WHERE IS MAX?
Children's Press/Grolier
Fall 2000
Easy Reader
SCRIBBLER OF DREAMS
Harcourt Brace
Spring 2001
Young Adult



THE BASICS:
From Mary E. Pearson
Author of:
PICKLES IN MY SOUP
Children's Press/Grolier
1999
Easy Reader
DAVID VS GOD
Harcourt Brace
Spring 2000
Young Adult
WHERE IS MAX?
Children's Press/Grolier
Fall 2000
Easy Reader
SCRIBBLER OF DREAMS
Harcourt Brace
Spring 2001
Young Adult
Unfortunately, there is no "quick" way to break into the world of children's publishing. To put it in a concrete perspective, look at it this way: It takes most writers longer to develop their craft and get published than it takes to go through medical school twice! In other words, this road is not for the fainthearted. Still interested? Great! That means your passion runs deep and passion is a key element in this business. Read on for my top musts to getting started . . .
1. Join the SCBWI!
The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators is the only international writing organization devoted exclusively to the craft of writing for children. They hold conferences worldwide and produce literature for their members that is invaluable. In addition, many publishers will only accept manuscripts from published authors AND SCBWI members. At $50.00 per year, it is the best bargain around.
2. Develop a support group
Get involved in a critique group to help you finely tune your manuscripts. The SCBWI can give you leads for this and you can also find online groups to help you develop your craft. It is also a good idea to make "writer friends" because no one else but another writer can truly understand the ups and downs of this business. They will rejoice with you when you receive a "good" rejection (See? Only another writer can understand that oxymoron) and they will offer a sympathetic shoulder when those "bad" ones arrive.
3. Read and study current children's books
Although we all have our old favorites, it is very important to be current with what is being published today. Audiences and writing styles change. Learn from these new books. You should be reading at least as much as you are writing, if not more.
4. Write EVERY day!
Don't think about writing . . . someday. Today is the day. Every day is the day. Writing is what writers do. Sounds obvious, huh? But sometimes our doubts about our capabilities stifle us to the point that we only talk about writing and never do it. So do it. You are not alone in your doubts. We ALL experience them. But we write anyway.
5. Commit to submit.
Have goals. So many new writers write, but then squirrel away their masterpieces in desk drawers afraid to turn their babies over to a publisher. Don't submit willy-nilly (the rest of us writers hate that--ever hear of the slush pile?) But once you have a manuscript in shape, research which publishers might be best for it and SEND it. If it comes back, SEND IT AGAIN. If you receive some helpful criticisms, revise accordingly and SEND AGAIN. Getting published is not easy, but one thing is certain -- a manuscript tucked away in your desk will never get published.
 6. Be prepared to wait
And wait. And wait. And wait. This is probably one of the hardest things to get used to. This is a SLOW business. No, slow isn't exactly the right word. A snail is slow. This business is more like playing a game of chess with someone who lives in China via the postal service, one move at a time. Get the idea? So what do you do while you wait? Easy. Write.
7. Never, never, never give up.
This is the ONLY common denominator among those who are published. There are countless stories of multi-published authors who have wallpapered their offices with hundreds of rejection letters. Rejection is part of the business for everyone. Well, almost everyone. I only know of one author who has never received a rejection letter, and of course we all hate her .
Now go for it! I'll be looking for you on the bookshelves!

THE BASICS:
From Linda Smith Note: Linda Smith died before any of her books were published.
Author of: TBA = To Be Announced

The Inside Tree
Harper Collins
TBA
Picture Book
Mrs. Crump's Cat
Harper Collins
TBA
Picture Book
When Moon Fell Down
Harper Collins
AVAILABLE NOW
Picture Book
Mrs. Biddlebox
Harper Collins - Golden Kite Winner!
AVAILABLE NOW
Picture Book
The Truth About Mrs. Cragglemire
Harper Collins
TBA
Picture Book
Wanda Jean's Face
Harper Collins
TBA
Middle Grade
Nobody's Business
Harper Collins
TBA
Young Adult
One of the biggest things lacking in this business is support. From Aunt Snarlytooth, who says, "Honey, have you thought of just being a secretary? You could still do all that typing you enjoy, but get paid for a change!" to Uncle Stiffbritches, "Are you still at that nonsense?" to your no-nonsense mother, "Well, the way to do is to get on Oprah, honey." and finally, your husband, who really just wishes you'd take up a nicer hobby...like crochet. Or pie baking (preferably his favorite) You'll be told again and again that you probably won't "make it," the competition is too stiff, you simply aren't good enough, your time would be better spent elsewhere... and certainly all that postage money could buy a great deal of crochet yarn and pie ingredients! Well, guess what? All of this is true. And all of it is completely false. It's entirely up to you.
1.)
GET INVOLVED You simply can't get published sitting home licking stamps. You have to get out and become a part of the writers' community, which means attending SCBWI "freebies" like workshops and presentations for their members, getting involved in a good critique group (preferably one with members more accomplished than yourself) finding message boards and list serves on the net where you can "schmooze" with other children's writers, reading writers magazines, publishers catalogs and attending conferences, if you can afford them. Family support can be very hard to come by, and few family members, if any, will really have a good grasp on this business. That's why it's so important to network with others who share a common goal, and who can provide you with guidance to getting your questions answered...which leads me to
1.)
DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Don't rely on others to ask questions you can answer yourself with the multitude of books and on-line informational sites available on the children's writing industry. Take the responsibility into your OWN hands. No one, after all, cares more about your ultimate success than YOU do. Study the market. Study publishers' catalogs. Study books in the bookstores, and note those publishers that seem to like the same "flavor" or "style" that you enjoy writing in. Just as the market is an ever-changing entity, your education should be equally ever-changing, and NEVER ending.
2.)
READ READ READ. I am convinced that it is a true essential. Reading excellent books leads to writing excellent books. Study your genre relentlessly. It is the finest, most wonderful "homework" you will ever do.
3.)
ENJOY THE JOURNEY Will you ever "make it?" Maybe. Yes. No. Ask again later. Remember that old Eightball that you shook and an answer appeared in the window? It can answer this question better than you or I or anyone else you ask. The truth is, there is no clear answer at all. But I do know that if you quit, your chances drop to the one absolute you can count on. Zero. That's the one truth in this whole business, or any business for that matter, that you can count on. It isn't easy. It's terribly competitive. And it's not for the thin skinned. (rejections aren't fun, ya know!) But if you LOVE to write, if you can't imagine your life without it, sprinting through the race should be equally as fulfilling as arriving at the finish line.
4.)
BE REALISTIC. Before you submit your manuscript, ask yourself (while gazing lovingly at those three little flimsy pieces of paper that holds your "baby") is this worth $50-60 thousand dollars or more? If you answer, "Well, maybe twenty bucks and a couple of brownies thrown in for good measure," your manuscript isn't ready to be sent out. Revise, revise, revise! Then go to your critique group and revise some more! I liken first drafts to dirty little boys. They're cute, yes, but they're a whole lot more lovable once they're polished up. Getting published is not a hobby, not a numbers game (the more I send out, the better my "chances" are, right?) and not for anyone who thinks writing picture books is a "fluffy little pastime." It's a multimillion dollar business, and should be respected as such.
Finally, have FUN. Love your writing. Fall in love with your characters and make them lovable in return.

From Verla Kay


From Linda Smith

Recommended Books to Read and Study are:
Nordstrom edited by Leonard Marcus
Creating Picture Books; Interviews With Editors, Art Directors, Reviewers, Book Sellers, Professors, Librarians And Showcasers by Kenneth and Sylvia Marantz
 

From Mary E. Pearson

RECOMMENDED READING:
Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market by Writers Digest (a MUST.)
How To Write a Children's Book and Get it Published by Barbara Seuling
Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott
Making a Good Script Great by Linda Seger
20 Master Plots And How to Build Them by Ronald B. Tobias


From Lisa Wheeler

Author of :

TBA = To Be Announced

One Dark Night
Harcourt, Inc.
Available Now
Picture Book
Seadogs: And Epic Ocean Operetta
Harcourt, Inc.
Available Now
Picture Book
Farmer Dale's Red Pickup Truck
Harcourt, Inc.
Available Now
Picture Book
Sixteen Cows
Harcourt, Inc.
Available Now
Picture Book
Sailor Moo!
Simon & Schuster
Available Now
Picture Book
Recommended Picture Books to Read and Study are:
(Listed alphabetically by Author)
 
R Denotes Rhyming
C Destined to be classics
F My Favorites
World Famous Muriel by Sue Alexander
R Rumble in the Jungle by Giles Andreae
R F Parts by Tedd Arnold
Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully
Beautiful Warrior by Emily Arnold McCully
F Ouch by Natalie Babbit
F Humbug Witch by Lorna Balian
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
F The Christmas Crocodile by Bonny Becker
F Hurry, Hurry, Mary Dear by N.M. Bodecker
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
R Altoona Baboona by Janie Bynum
C The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle
F Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
F CMy Life With the Wave by Catherine Cowen
8 O'Cluck by Jill Creighton
Who Hops? by Katie Davis
C Jamberry by Bruce Degan
F The Dumb Bunnies by Sue Denim
The Grumpy Morning by Pamela Duncan Edwards
C Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming
R Time For Bed by Mem Fox
C Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
C A Pocket for Corduroy by Don Freeman
R Barnyard Song by Rhonda Gowler Greene
R Tommy at the Grocery Store by Bill Grossman
R The Maggie B. by Irene Haas
F Cat Up A Tree by John and Ann Hassett
F Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
F CLily's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
F Julius, the Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes
C Frances Books by Russell and Lillian Hoban
R Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman
R Horace and Morris, but Mostly Delores by James Howe
Rosie's Walk by Pat Hutchins
R I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson
C Tawny Scrawny Lion by Kathryn Jackson
Bunny My Honey by Anita Jeram
When I Am Old With You by Angela Johnson
C Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Amber on the Mountain by Tony Johnston
C Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara Joose
R Gold Fever by Verla Kay
R Iron Horses by Verla Kay
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Peach & Blue by Sarah Kilborne
R Miss Spider's Wedding by David Kirk
C Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus
C The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester
F A Porcupine named Fluffy by Helen Lester
C Swimmy by Leo Lionni
R Cowboy Bunnies by Christine Loomis
F Come A Tide by George Ella Lyon
Little Beaver and the Echo by Amy MacDonald
F CAll the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan
R Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.& John Archambault
F The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer
F Dark at the Top of the Stairs by Sam McBratney
C Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
C Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Stone Soup by Ann McGovern
Pigs aplenty, Pigs Galore by David McPhail
Pigs Ahoy! by David McPhail
Snow Lion by David McPhail
F Martha Blah Blah by Susan Meddaugh
Five Minutes Peace by Jill Murphy
R The Tale of Custard the Dragon by Ogden Nash
R The Jacket I Wear in the Snow by Shirley Neitzel
Raising Dragons by Jerdine Nolen
C Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm by Jerdine Nolen
F CIf You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Piggie Pie by Margie Palatini
Dogzilla by Dav Pilkey
The Paper Boy by Dav Pilkey
C Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco
Serena Katz by Charlotte Pomerantz
F COfficer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
Ruby the Copy Cat by Peggy Rathmann
F Bootsie Barker Bites by Peggy Rathmann
F Aunt Nancy and Old Man Trouble by Phyllis Root
F Aunt Nancy and Cousin Lazybones by Phyllis Root
F Rosie's Fiddle by Phyllis Root
F The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant
F The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant
R Good Knight by Lindy Rymill
Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say
F The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
C Where the Wild things Are by Maurice Sendak
C Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
R Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw
The Treasure by Uri Shulevitz
On the Morn of Mayfest by Erica Silverman
C The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
F Imogene's Antlers by David Small
George Washington's Cows by David Small
Naptime Laptime by Eileen Spinelli
F Saving Sweetness by Diane Stanley
Spinky Sulk by William Steig
F Pete's a Pizza by William Steig
C The Amazing Bone by William Steig
C Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe
F The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone
R Window Music by Anastasia Suen
R Baby Born by Anastasia Suen
The Araboolies of Liberty Street by Sam Swope
Have You Seen my Duckling? by Nancy Tafuri
How I Spent my Summer Vacation by Mark Teague
Somebody and the Three Blairs by Marilyn Tolhurst
Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg
C Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
The Garden of Abdul Gasazi by Chris Van Allsburg
F I'll Fix Anthony by Judith Viorst
F CAlexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
C Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber
F Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell
F R So Many Bunnies by Rick Walton
Noisy Nora by Rosemary Wells
Odd Velvet by Mary E. Whitcomb
C Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
C Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
C The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
F King Bidgood's in the Bathtub by Audrey and Don Wood
Heckedy Peg by Audrey and Don Wood
F CThe Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood
F CThe Big Hungry Bear and the Red Ripe Strawberry by Audrey and Don Wood
Silly Sally by Audrey Wood
Sand Castle by Brenda Yee
Child of Faerie by Jane Yolen

Writing Tips From Verla Kay
Q. How do I find an illustrator?
A. It may surprise you to learn that the answer to this question is, "You DON'T!" Most publishers want to pick their own illustrator and unless you are a professional illustrator yourself and want to do your own picture book, you should leave that decision up to your editor. It can actually cut your chances of getting your story accepted by as much as 50% if you try to find your own artist and send your story in as a "complete package." Often, publishers will attempt to pair an unknown author with a well-established illustrator in order to give the book a "jump-start" in sales. (See the Transcripts page, Writing Picture Books for more information on this subject.)
Q. Do I need an agent? How do I find one?
A. You do not "need" an agent to sell a children's book. If you "want" one, that's an entirely different story. But I highly recommend that you do a lot of research first about agents, what they can do for you and what you want and expect from one before you start looking for one. Check out the Writer's Tips page and the Transcripts page of this website for more detailed information about agents. If you have decided that you really want one, then I recommend getting the list of children's agents from SCBWI and using it as the basis of your search. There are numerous agents on their list and all are reputable and will handle children's books.
Q. How can you be sure someone won't steal your story and/or idea?
A. It is almost unheard of in the children's writing field for any professional to "steal" another's story. If you are submitting to legitimate houses, such as those listed in the CWIM (Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market guidebook) then you don't have to worry about this at all. Publishers are too busy trying to get their books published to bother with re-inventing the wheel. Why would they want someone else to write a story that is already written? If your story is written so wonderfully that it couldn't possibly be improved upon, they will jump at the chance to publish it. And if it's NOT written that well, then you shouldn't be sending it out, but should be revising it, instead. :-)
It might also make you feel better to know that in the USA there are new copyright laws that protect your work. From the MOMENT your words are written down on a piece of paper, they are "copyrighted" by law. Keep your submission records, rejection slips for stories, etc, for additional proof that the story is yours, should you ever need it.
Ideas cannot be copyrighted, just as titles can't be copyrighted. (That's why you will find dozens of books out there with the title, "Gold Fever." GRIN) It is HOW your idea is written that will make YOUR story stand out from all the rest. And no matter what your idea is, rest assured, someone, somewhere, has also thought of it and is writing it right this minute. But 50 people writing the same story line will have 50 different stories when they get done. So don't worry about the "other guy." Just write YOUR story so well that an editor will take one look at it and say, "I HAVE to publish this!"

Q. How can I keep track of my submissions? The publishers often take so long to respond that I lose track of what's out there and who has what...and where I've send a manuscript in the past!
A. First, STOP right here. Are you SURE your manuscript is ready to be sent to an editor? Many new writers send things out when they are first starting out that are not yet ready to go, and they are embarrassed after they have learned more about the publishing business and discover what makes good, saleable manuscripts. Don't let this be you! Take your story to a conference and have it professionally critiqued or share it in an open critique session at a workshop before you send it out. If you can't get to a conference, then join the CW list and ask for critique partners, or start or join a local critque group. (You can get the names of other children's writers who live near you by joining SCBWI.) This is a VITAL step in your success as a writer. You say you've already done that? Your manuscript has been deemed "ready to go" by your critique partners? GREAT... then, read on!
There are lots of submission tracking software programs around, and some can be found right on the web using search engines, but I found it easiest for me to keep track of submissions using a simple calendar and card file system. I used one 3x5 index card for each submission. (You could easily do this with your computer and a spreadsheet program, too.) At the top, I put the name of the story. Then I made columns on the card. These columns were for:
Date Sent / Editor's Name / Publisher / Date of Reply / Comments
If you are using a spreadsheet program, or a larger sized index card, add columns for:
Date Reply Expected / Follow-ups
When a manuscript was sent to a publisher, I wrote in the date I mailed it, what editor it went to, the name of the publishing house, and the date I expected to get a reply according to the listing information in my market guidebook. On my calendar, I would pencil in "Contact X publisher re Name of Story" one month after the expected reply date. If I hadn't gotten a reply from the publisher by that date, I would then send a follow-up postcard asking for the status of the manuscript. (And I would make note of the follow-up on the index card in the appropriate place - either the comments or Follow-ups column.)
When a response came back on a manuscript, I "rated" it in my Comments column.
A = Accepted
B = Rejected with a detailed, personal letter from an editor
C = Form Rejection with personal comments hand written on it
D = Form Rejection with no personal comments written on it or with just printed comments and a "box" checked to indicate the reason for the rejection
F = No response at all (This code was only used if an inordinate amount of time had passed and I couldn't get any response at all from a publisher regarding the status of my manuscript. At that point, I would send a letter to the company, (registered, with a return receipt requested) telling them I was withdrawing my manuscript from their consideration and then I would send the manuscript elsewhere.)
On the back of the index card, I put a list of ten publishers I want to send the manuscript to, in order of preference. As I send it to each one, I cross it out on the back of the card and write it in on the front. When a manuscript comes back, I know instantly where it goes next (and I would often type out the mailing label for the next place when I sent it out to one, so when it came back, I could just type a new cover letter and it was ready to go out again.)
This simple system kept me from sending a manuscript to the same publisher twice, and if a publisher contacted me about a manuscript, I instantly knew which one it was ... because I never sent a publisher more than one at a time and I never sent a manuscript to more than one publisher at a time until I was getting back all "B's" on rejections for it. At that point, I knew my manuscript was "ready" and just needed to find the "right editor" at the "right house" at the "right time." THEN I sent it out to several publishers at once, indicating in my cover letters that "this is a simultaneous submission."
SPECIAL TIP: Keep manuscripts that you know are "publisher-ready" circulating. Nothing is more depressing and discouraging than having the last manuscript come back. When nothing is "out there," you have virtually no chance of selling anything! As long as at least one manuscript is still "out there," you have hope! So keep your manuscripts "out there."

Tips from Betty Provost (Author in Training)
Make a good copy of your poem, manuscript, or whatever and send that in to a publisher - don't send your original! You can use it to make another copy for the next publisher.
Set up a system that will help you keep track of what you send where, when, and (hopefully) how much you were paid. You'll be surprised at how fast your writing multiplies once you start writing every day!
Go to courses and seminars on writing - at least one a year. Many allow you to send in one piece to be critiqued, and you may make some contacts that will prove invaluable.

Tips on getting the most from the CW List from Rhonda Lane Phillips (One Who's Been There)
NOTE: The CW list is the Childrens Writers List
To all new CW list members:
Welcome to the world of Children's Writing! It's a wonderful place to be! Many of you have been doing it longer than me, and you may be able to add to the information that I plan to pass along in this letter. But to the others, who are quite new to this 'game,' you may find this email a way of making our list and children's writing more user friendly. Get a cuppa, sit back, and enjoy! :-D
#1.....First of all, here's some help with our 'children's writing language.'
mg = mid-grade novel
pb = picture book, not to be confused with picture story book
ya = young adult
There are also chapter books, board books, concept books, fantasy, science fiction (SF), etc.
#2.......Second, our email language.......you know, the acronyms:
dh darling husband (guess dw is darling wife?)
LOL Laugh out loud
IAE In Any Event
BTW By the way
FC Fingers Crossed
FWIW For what it's worth
FYI For Your Information
IAE In any event
IMO In my opinion
IMHO In my humble opinion
IMCO In my considered opinion
IOW In other words
NRN No Reply Necessary
OTOH On the Other Hand
OMT One more thing
ROFL Rolling on floor laughing.
SITD Still in the dark
TIA Thanks In Advance
TIC Tongue in cheek
 
#3........Third, those cute, happy or sad, or utterly juvenile symbols that lets us communicate our body language to our fellow listers without the benefit of an actual face-to-face encounter:
:-) basic smiley
;-) sarcastic smiley
:-> frown
:-( the face that says, "I got my rejection letter today."
:-I This one is indifferent; better than a frown but not as good as happy The smiley can also indicate subtleties of mood and response:
:-D. . . laughing
(-: Writer is left handed
%-) has been staring at a green screen for 15 hours straight
[:] a robot
8-) wearing sunglasses
B:-) wearing sunglasses on head
::-) wears normal glasses
B-) wears horn-rimmed glasses
:-{) has a mustache
:-{} wears lipstick
:-7 made a wry statement
:-* ate something sour
:-)~ drools (Like we all do over being published!)
:-~) has a cold
:'-( is crying (Like when you decided you need to rip up your manuscript
and start all over)
:'-) so happy, s/he's crying
:-@ Screaming
:<) from an ivy league school
:-& tongue tied. (Hardly describes anyone on this list!)
|-I asleep
O :-) an angel (at heart, at least)
:-S an incoherent statement
:-X lips are sealed
*<:-) wearing a santa claus hat (Preferably only at Christmas!)
:-o Uh oh!
:-9 licking lips
[:-) wearing a walkman (our teenagers)
8 :-) a wizard
8-) :-{) :-Q @:-) Meaning, respectively, the writer wears sunglasses, has a mustache, smokes, wears a turban. Gee, I wonder if this fits anyone out there?
#4.........If you are going to be serious in this business, then you need some tools for your trade.
Join SCWBI (Society of Children's Writers and Book Illustrators) for starters. It is the premier organization that will more than acquaint you to children's writing and illustrating. Many publishers are impressed to see you are a member of this organization.
Next, buy the latest CWIM (Children's Writers and Illustrators Market). This is found at your nearest large bookstore. It is chock full of helps, addresses, agent info, and publishers' guidelines to help you get your manuscript polished and ready to send out.
Check out children's writing books while you are at the bookstore. Books that target plotting, characterization, rhyme are all there. Consider taking a writing course as well. SCWBI will inform you of the latest conferences or writing classes.
 
#5.........No money for SCWBI or CWIM or pricey books? You can gain a wealth of information by cruising the web. Here are some wonderful sites that will educate and enlighten you on the children's publishing world. From these sites are links to a multitude of sites. I'm only including a fraction of the sites that are out there. It's incredible to see the wealth of information that is available over the web. Some of these sites include some of our list members.
Verla Kay has a wonderful Tuesday evening children's writers' chat room forum on Tuesday evenings right here on this site. For more info go to the Workshops and Live Chat pages.
Also, there are several message boards to gain info or post your own questions or accolades. Please spend a week or two just cruising the web, especially if you will not be taking a writing class or buying any writing books or joining a professional writer's group. This time to acquaint yourself to children's publishing will give you invaluable information towards getting that article or book published. I promise!
NOTE: * Starred items are links that are also recommended elsewhere on this site.
* American Library Association
Bonnie Bruno's Site
Children's Publishers Links
* Children's Writer's Message Board
* Children's Writing Resource Center
Christian's Writing For Children Message Board
Commercial Magazine Publishers
* Good News Message Board
Hodge-podge of writer's resources
* Linda Joy Singleton's Site
Literary Agents list
Another Literary Agents list
Lynne Remick's Site #1
Lynne Remick's Site #2
Margaret Shauer's Magazine Writers' List
* Miriam Hees Site
Once Upon a Time
Science fiction/fantasy site
Semantic Rhyming Dictionary
Sharp Writer site
Steve Compton's Site
Susan Katz's Site
Verla Kay's Site (You are here now!)
Writer's Digest site
Writer's Digest 101 sites
Writing For Children Message Board
 
#6........Just write! Don't get discourage over 'bad writing days.' There's tomorrow! Don't get discouraged over rejections. There's lessons to be learned with every rejection (perseverance, polishing on your piece, learning the market better....). Celebrate your success with us; we'll celebrate with you. Got rejections? Well, by being on the CW list, there are 400+ shoulders on which to cry. We'll all grab tissues with you. Been there! All of us! And many of us have causes for celebrations, which will encourage you. You will have your turn someday too, if you learn the trade of children's writing. Find a critique partner, or preferably a critique group to read your work. Look at each critique as one step closer to achieving your goal. A doctor could never operate without the 1,000,000 steps it took to get to that operating table. You should count each morsel of information that you learn, each critique that you receive, each minute you spend in writing, as one step closer to that published article or book.
#7.......Got a question? Ask! There is someone on the CW list who will be able to answer just about any question you have! That's nearly a promise!!! ;-)
#8......Have fun writing! And again, welcome!!!






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