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

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