Monday, August 29, 2011

Some Advice on Advice

Let’s say you’ve posed a question to an online forum about submitting to an editor.  How do you handle the advice?  Do you follow the suggestion?   Or do you question the advice? 

Recently, I read a question concerning how a writer should go about getting the attention of a publisher.  Though it was posted on a respectable writing forum, one piece of advice shocked me.  Someone suggested that the writer should forget sending a query and try to “stand out” by sending the publisher freshly baked cookies.  Little did the advisor know that most editors think that sending "gifts" will make you stand out—in a negative way. Luckily, another person responded with sound advice: join SCBWI and attend conferences to learn how to approach publishers more professionally.

There’s a lot of advice to be had on the Internet.  Your job is to filter out the bad advice and find the good advice.  Iyou ask a question on a writing forum, read all of the replies.  Find the reply that best speaks to your heart.  But how can you be sure when there are many differences of opinion? Join SCBWI and attend conferences, as mentioned above.  Join a critique group or take a writing class and approach the attendees with your questions.  Read many books on the art of writing for children.  Read books on how to market your work.  Once you have a feel for what is expected of an author, you’ll have a better understanding of how you should approach a publisher, and with luck, stand out.

From time to time, I’ve sought answers to questions that were not available in books.  So I’ve asked published authors questions online and they’ve usually answered me promptly with great suggestions.  Other times I’ve attended conferences, where I can ask agents and publishers questions face to face.  I can trust these sources.  As for online writing forums, you may not know if the responder is truly creditable.  So with that in mind, I caution you to be careful of the advice that you seek.  You know the phrase:  Buyer, beware.  Here’s another: Writer, be wary.

Here are some books with tips for making your submission stand out:      
How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Picture Books, by Jean Karl
Writing Picture Books, by Ann Whitford Paul
Book Markets for Children’s Writers, edited by Marni McNiff
Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market, edited by Alice Pope

Monday, August 22, 2011

Avoiding Rejection

I hate delivering rejections.  I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end.  But last week, I had to reject two pieces.  The first submission was a short article for 7 – 9 year olds.  The second was a personal essay.   

Our magazine guidelines state that the word count for 7 – 9 year olds should run 400 – 800 words.  The writer had not achieved the correct word count that we require.  In addition, the concept and language were too advanced for young children.

The second submission was a first person narrative.  Most nonfiction articles that we publish are written in 3rd person or in some cases, 2nd person.  Though well-written, we simply don’t publish these kinds of pieces.  

All is not lost however, for the two writers whose articles were rejected.  My assistant and I offered them advice in terms of editing and marketing their work.  But what two things could they have done to have avoided rejection?  I have two suggestions:  follow our contributor guidelines and read a few published pieces from our magazine. 

By studying the guidelines, these writers would have known exactly what we expect from our contributors (topics, formatting, word count, etc.)  By reading a few sample articles, they would have gotten a feel for the voice and tone of our published pieces. 

There is no guarantee these two suggestions will garner an acceptance.  Every editor has her own likes and dislikes.  But when writers follow the guidelines and read sample copies, they can reduce the chances of getting a rejection.  Writers will be better equipped to offer an editor an article that she's more likely to publish.     



Monday, August 8, 2011

Helpful Tips on Writing from author Tal Yanai

After seventeen years of studying and practicing spirituality, I decided to write my first book, a short spiritual guide for the road of life. In my head, I had clear sets of thoughts and ideas I wanted to share. However, the first attempt to put them into a book created a stack of papers resembling anything but a well organized book anyone would be interested in reading. It was then that I realized there is much more to writing a book than few good ideas.

Let more than one person edit your book

You need an editor for grammar and such, but it’s a good idea to let someone with knowledge on the subject matter read it, too. When a reviewer would ask me what I meant when I wrote this or that sentence, I knew I had to do a better job conveying the message because others would ask the same questions. This give and take with people that I trusted greatly improved the clarity and quality of my writing.

Know who you are writing for
Life Is Not a Candy Store: It’s the Way to the Candy Store started as a spiritual guide for all ages. However, as the project moved forward, reaching teens became the main purpose of the book. It meant I had to go back and change some of the writing. I had to think in terms of what issues teens deal with or are bothered by. I also had to change the examples I used in the book to fit their environment and talk about things such as peer pressure and challenges teens may face in school. Changing the target audience during the writing was the right decision, but a time consuming one, too.
Always take notes when you have new ideas
Over the years you may have had many inspiring ideas crossing your mind, but for different reasons you let them go. You will do yourself a big favor by starting to write them down as they come to you. Those are the seeds of your writing and the gifts the universe has sent to you. Always have something you can write with. Later on you will have time to develop it further.

You are the most original part of your book, so show it

Whatever subject you write on, and whatever story you tell, most likely it has been told before in one way or another. What makes your book unique is your prospective, your personality. Be passionate; let the readers see your version of something they heard about before. For example, when you read Life Is Not a Candy Store: It’s the Way to the Candy Store, you’ll feel that the book was written as a personal journey coming from the heart. It is so because I decided to connect with the readers on that level.

Finally, have fun writing

It takes time and money to publish a book, and it’s not always easy to remember, but going through the process means you are realizing a dream. Look around you.  How many people are actually doing that? Very few, if any at all. It is of no use at all to be sitting there twenty years from now telling anyone who is willing to listen that you once wrote a book. Live in the present and enjoy the moment!

In a nutshell, one of the main topics in Life Is Not a Candy Store: It’s the Way to the Candy Store is learning to enjoy life without causing pain to ourselves and others. The book explores the idea of living a joyful life by connecting to a higher power and finding a more meaningful purpose for life. By changing one’s prospective of life, one can walk on the road that leads to an emotional and spiritual freedom. Realizing that, you will see that living even a small dream is a step in the right direction.

About Tal Yanai
At the age of twenty-three, Tal Yanai moved to the Los Angeles where he found solace in a higher power and started on a spiritual path.  It led him to align himself with his soul’s essence and mission. Since that time (1993), he wanted to share his story with young people, hoping it will give them the tools necessary to overcome the pain and frustration they may experience.
Life Is Not a Candy Store: It’s the Way to the Candy Store

Tal Yanai's book Life Is Not a Candy Store: It's the Way to the Candy Store is a spiritual guide for teens. It is an introduction to basic spiritual principles that can help teenagers deal with daily issues they may face. Too many fine young people end up hurting themselves and others close to them when they are unable to resolve situations involving anger and frustration. This book gives teens who feel trapped the tools to let go of the anger and overcome difficulties.

View Aug 11 Bo...jpg in slide show


Book Lovers Blog Hop:
Make friends, share the love of reading and be entered to win a FREE book!

All you have to do is post the Book Lovers Blog Hop and World of Ink Tour Banners above to your blog. Promote the Book Lovers Hop and World of Ink Tours on any social network. Tweet it once a day, share on Facebook and then follow others back that leave you a comment. By joining the Book Lovers Blog Hop, you are automatically entered in our Book Giveaway!

There will be two (2) winners for this Book Giveaway.

Note: One book per winner.

Hop Rules:
1.Follow the Top link of the hop! Hop Host: Families Matter
2.Grab the button for the hop and place it in a post, sidebar, or on a blog hop page and let us know where it is in the comments section below. This will help the hop grow and gain us all new followers. It's a Win-Win for everyone!
3.Grab the buttons for the World of Ink Tours and place it in a post or side bar. Make sure you let us know where it is in the comments section below.

Book Giveaway Rules:
·Join the Book Lovers Blog Hop. (One entry)
·Follow the World of Ink Tours and leave a comment per tour blog stop. (must leave a real comment about the author, tour or book. Saying “this is cool” or “I love your book” will not count.) Make sure to include your safe email so we can contact you if you are the winner. Example: vsgrenier AT storiesforchildrenpublishing DOT com. (One bonus entry per blog stop)
·Ask a question per World of Ink Tour blog stop. (One bonus entry per tour blog stop)
Here is the Code for the blog hop list
<script src="" type="text/javascript"></script>

Monday, August 1, 2011


Hear ye, hear ye: announcing the second annual WriteOnCon, a  free online conference scheduled for August 16 -18th  As mentioned in The Writer magazine last month, 11,000 children’s book writers and illustrators participated last year. 

Young-adult writer Casey McCormick organized WriteOnCon to help writers who can’t afford to attend conferences.  She hopes to bring organized information as well as the intensity and the experience of attending an in-person conference to online participants.

Last year, McCormick along with six co-founders put together a roster of more than 50 experts, which included literary agents and authors.  This year she hopes to help new writers with basic information and to get more agents doing events.  McCormick says, “We're doing a critique partner match-up in the forums right now as well as a contest with a $1000 prize with The Reading Room and lit agent Catherine Drayton.” 

The goal of the conference is to help writers connect with other writers and industry pros so that that can someday reach their dream of publication.  To register or for more information: go to