Showing posts with label traditional publishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label traditional publishing. Show all posts

Monday, November 1, 2021

Submitting Manuscript Queries - Be Specific and Professional


  

By Karen Coiffi

All writers face the dreaded query. Did I put enough information? Did I put too much? Did I have a great hook? Am I submitting to the right publisher?

These are just a few questions that run through a writer’s mind when mailing, or clicking the send button for the query. So, how do you answer these questions and the many others that go along with the job of crafting a query?

Well, the first simple response to this question is to READ the publisher’s or agent’s guidelines. Okay, that’s not accurate-you need to STUDY and FOLLOW those guidelines precisely.

Items to watch for when reading those guidelines:

1. What genre does that particular publishing house, agent, or magazine publish?

2. Does the publisher/agent accept simultaneous submissions?

3. Is there a specific word count involved if querying for articles?

4. Does the publishing house accept unagented queries?

5. Does the magazine only accept specific themes, if so, is your article on target?

This list is not complete, there are obviously more items to watch out for. So, we go back to the main rule for querying: FOLLOW the GUIDELINES!

But, following the guidelines is just part of the querying process; you also need to know some inclusion essentials.

Six rules to use that will help you create a winning query:

1. Be professional. Writing is a business just like any other-treat it as such.

2. Be sure to include your contact information: address, telephone number, email address and website.

3. If you were referred by someone include it in the query. Every little bit helps, but be sure it’s a referral from someone the editor actually knows.

4. Write tight – be specific and jump right in. You want to provide enough information to warrant the editor to want more, but you need to keep it to one page.

5. The first paragraph is the pitch-within a couple of sentences you need to hook the editor or agent. The second paragraph is about you, again keep it brief and include your credentials. The third paragraph is your conclusion; thank the editor/agent for his/her time and mention if you are enclosing a SASE and if the query is a simultaneous submission.

6. In regard to your bio: Limit personal information unless it adds to your credentials as a writer qualified to write for this publisher.

A good way to practice for queries and pitches is to write a one sentence out of the ball park description of your manuscript. This will help you to think and write tight and choose the perfect words to hook the reader and convey the essence of your story.

This article first appeared at: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2015/07/13/submitting-manuscript-queries/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, successful children’s ghostwriter with 300+ satisfied clients worldwide, and online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing. For children’s writing tips. or if you need help with your children’s story, visit: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com

You can check out Karen’s books at: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/diy/

 

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Thursday, October 1, 2020

Children’s Writing and Publishing Process - The Traditional Path



Children’s books fall into one of three categories: picture books, middle grade, and young adult. There are genres, like board books and easy-readers, but I'm sticking to the first three I mentioned.

Along with this, children's writers need to take the necessary steps to achieve success whether aiming at traditional publishing or self-publishing.

In regard to traditional publishing, there are four steps in a writing career: writing, submissions to agents and publishers, book sales, and a writing career.

1. Writing

Actually writing, and all that it entails, is the basis of a career in writing, whether writing books, articles, becoming a ghostwriter, or copywriter. And, each of these career goals takes a number of steps that involve time and effort. But, we’re focusing on writing for children.

A. The first step is to write, but in addition to writing, the new writer will need to learn the craft of writing, along with the particular tricks of writing for children. Children’s writing is more complicated than other forms of writing. The reason is because you’re dealing with children.

Rules, such as age-appropriate words, age-appropriate topics, age-appropriate comprehension, storylines and formatting are all features that need to be tackled when writing for children.

Within the first step rung, you will also need to read, read, and read in the genre you want to write. Pay special attention to recently published books and their publishers. What works in these books? What type of style is the author using? What topics/storylines are publisher’s publishing?

Dissect these books, and you might even write or type them word-for-word to get a feel for writing that works. This is a trick that writers new to copywriting use – you can trick your brain into knowing the right way to write for a particular genre or field. Well, not so much trick your brain as teach it by copying effective writing. Just remember, this is for the learning process only – you cannot use someone else’s work, that’s plagiarism.

If you need extra help writing your story, check out my book on writing for children: How to Write a Children's Fiction Book.

B. The next step, number two, is to become part of a critique group and have your work critiqued. Critiquing is a two-way street; you will critique the work of other member of the critique group and they will critique yours. But, there are advantages to critiquing other writers’ works – you begin to see errors quickly and notice what’s being done right. This all helps you hone your craft.

C. Step three on the writing rung is to revise your manuscript according to your own self-editing and critiques from others. It’s also recommended to put the story away for a couple of weeks and then revisit it. You’ll see a number of areas that may need revising that you hadn’t noticed before.

D. It would also be advisable if you budget for a professional editing of your manuscript before you begin submissions. No matter how careful you and your critique partners are, a working editor will pick up things you missed.

2. Submissions

Before you think about submitting your work anywhere, be sure you’ve completed the necessary steps in number one. You’re manuscript needs to be as polished as you can possibly get it.

Submissions can fall into two categories: those to publishers and those to agents. In regard to submitting to agents, in a Spring 2011 webinar presented by Writer’s Digest, agent Mary Kole advised to “research agents.” This means to find out what type of agent they are in regard to the genre they work with and the agent platform they provide: do they coddle their authors, do they crack the whip, are they aggressive, passive, involved, or complacent. Know what you’re getting into before querying an agent, and especially before signing a contract.

Here are a couple of sites you can visit to learn about agents:

http://agentquery.com
http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/

The same advice works for submitting to publishers also. Research publishers before submitting to them. Know which genres of children’s books they handle and the type of storylines they’re looking for.

Whether submitting to a publisher or an agent, always follow the guidelines and always personalize the query. There may be times the guidelines do not provide the name of the editor to send the query to, but if you can find that information, use it.

According to Mary Kole, it’s also important to know how to pitch your story. This entails finding the story’s hook. Agents and publishers also want to know what the book’s selling points will be and what successful books it’s similar to. In addition, they will expect to be told what your marketing strategy will be. It’s a good idea to create an online presence and platform before you begin submissions; let the agents and publishers know you will actively market your book.

Along with the story’s hook, you need to convey: who your main character is and what he/she is about; the action that drives the story; the main character’s obstacle, and if the main character doesn’t overcome the obstacle, what’s at stake.

Kole recommends reading “the back of published books” to see how they briefly and effectively convey the essence of the story. This will give you an idea of how to create your own synopsis.

When querying, keep your pitch short and professional, and keep your bio brief and relevant. You will need to grab the editor or agent and make them want to read your manuscript.


3. A Contract and Book Sales

If you do your homework, your manuscript will eventually find a home. Don’t let initial rejections, if you receive them, deter you. A published writer may not be the best writer, but she is definitely a writer who perseveres.

After you sign a contract, you’ll be ‘put in queue’ and at some point begin editing with the publisher’s editor. From start to actual release, the publishing process can take one to two years.

A couple of months prior to your book’s release, you should begin promotion to help with book sales. After its release, you will want to take part in virtual book tours, do blogtalk radio guest spots, school visits (if available), and all the other standard book promotion strategies.

Be sure to also create your Amazon Author page and fill in everything you can to make readers aware of you and your books.

And, don't forget to get reviews. Book reviews help sell books. You can find out more about getting and using book reviews effectively with  How to Get Great Book Reviews by Carolyn Howard-Johnson.

4. A Writing Career

Now, you’ve got your book and you’re promoting it like crazy (this is an ongoing process). The next and final step is to repeat the process. You don’t want to be a one-hit wonder, so hopefully you’ve been writing other stories. If not, get started now. On average, an author writes a book every one to two years.

Along with keeping up with writing your books, having published books opens other writing opportunities, such as speaking engagements, conducting workshops and/or webinars, and coaching.

There are a number of marketers who say your ‘book’ is your business card; it conveys what you’re capable of and establishes you as an expert in your field or niche. Take advantage of these additional avenues of income.

 Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author. She runs a successful children’s ghostwriting and rewriting business and welcomes working with new clients.

For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact her at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

You can follow Karen at:
LinkedIn 
Twitter 

Check out Karen's newly revised How to Write a Children's Fiction Book.


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Friday, May 1, 2020

To Traditionally Publish or Self-Publish



Whether to publish traditionally or self-publish is the question I get most from my ghosting clients. Most new to the writing arena don’t understand what’s involved with either path. This article will helpfully shed some light on the topic.

Traditional Publishing

With traditional publishing, you submit your EDITED manuscript to publishing houses and/or literary agents.

To submit to publishers means finding ones that accept submissions in your genre. To do this, you’ll need to write a query letter. It’s the query letter that you first submit. And, until you find a publisher who’s interested in your manuscript, you have to keep submitting.

It’s the same process for both publishers and literary agents.

There’s no way to determine how long it can take to find a publisher or agent who will offer you a contract. It could happen quickly (not the norm) or it can take a year, two years, or more. There are no guarantees it will happen.

As an example, it took Chicken Soup for the Soul 144 rejections before finally getting a publishing contract. They put a lot of time and effort into their publishing quest.

The traditional process takes perseverance and commitment. You need to research publishers and agents. For this process, I recommend getting “Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Marketing [current year].” It has hundreds of listings.

If you’re not a children’s author, you can use “Writer’s Market [current year].”

Assuming you do get a contract, it usually takes about two years before your book will actually be available for sale.

Again, there are no guarantees with the traditional publishing route.

But, with all that said, there is still a level of 'status' and credibility with books that are traditionally published. And, you never know if you'll get a contract quicker than expected. An added bonus if you’re writing a children’s picture book, you won't have to find an illustrator or pay for illustrations and a book cover.

Self-Publishing

With self-publishing you’re in control.

You write your story or hire a ghostwriter to write it for you. Just make sure the story is edited and proofed before moving onto the next step.

Once that’s done, you’re off to find an illustrator – this is if you’re creating a picture book or even a chapter book / middle grade that will include some illustrations.

You can find children’s book illustrators at:

http://fiverr.com

http://upwork.com

http://www.childrensillustrators.com

http://blueberryillustrations.com/childrens-book-illustrations/

You can also do an online search.

While you can find some ‘cheap’ illustrators out there, be sure of their skills. Be sure they understand what you’re looking for. And, be sure they proof their own work. You MUST also check the illustrations to the text – make sure the illustrations are relevant to the content on that page. You’ll also need to check for accuracy and consistency within the illustrations.

I’ve coordinated illustrations to text for clients and have found a number of errors from missing parts of feet to inconsistent furnishings from scene to scene.

After you have a fully edited and proofed manuscript and if it's a children's book, the illustrations and text combined, you will need to prepare your book (have it formatted) and upload it for distribution (for sale). For this, you can use services like Amazon KDP (for ebooks and print books).

If you want a wider distribution of your book, you might consider aggregators, like IngramSpark, Smashwords, or Lulu. (Be advised that Smashwords does not distribute books to Amazon.)

An aggregator distributes your book, making it available for sale at a number of retailers.


NOTE: Before you upload your book to an aggregator or a retailer (like Amazon or Barnes & Noble), the book needs to be formatted into print-ready files. You can use services like FormattedBooks.com for this process.

If the thought of having to find someone to format your book and then upload your work is still too intimidating, you can simply use a service like Lulu.com, Smashwords.com (https://www.smashwords.com/about/how_to_publish_on_smashwords), or BookBaby.com for help in this area.

Note: While Smashwords has a large distribution network, it does not distribute to Amazon. 

Warning: Services you pay to format and upload your book for publishing will probably offer lots of other services: cover design, editing, illustrations, and so on. They can be expensive and I’m not sure of the quality of, say their editing services. So, have the book already to go. All you should need them for is actual publishing and distribution.

Summing it Up

Whether to self-publish or go the traditional route depends on your time frame, finances, and commitment to submitting your work. And, if you choose the traditional path, you’ll need to have patience and perseverance.

Reference:
Self-Publish Your Book

For an in depth 3-part series on what to do when your book is fully edited and ready for formatting, check out:

Self-Publishing a Book (1) - Formatting


Self-Publishing a Book (2) – The ISBN, the Barcode, and the LCCN


Self-Publishing a Book (3) – You're at the Finish Line

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and successful children’s ghostwriter/rewriter. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move and as well as an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

If you’d like more writing tips or help with your children’s story, check out: Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

And, you can follow Karen at:
LinkedIn  http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice
Twitter  http://twitter.com/KarenCV


IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE ASK IN THE COMMENTS.

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Sunday, March 1, 2020

Writing a Fiction Story – Walking Through Walls Backstory


It’s always interesting how writers find ideas when writing a fiction story.

Some may simply come up with an idea, others may see something that triggers a story, and sometimes a story is handed to a writer.

I had never thought of rewriting a folktale until being given a rough outline of an ancient Chinese tale, Taoist Master of the Lao Mountain. This was the inception of middle-grade, fantasy adventure Walking Through Walls.

It was June of 2008, and I belonged to a writing critique group along with a nonfiction writer who had a basic outline of an ancient Chinese tale that he wanted to pass along to a fiction writer. Since writing a fiction story wasn't his cup of tea, he gave me the outline.

After reading the outline, I loved the lessons it could bring to children.

Folktales come from all over the world and usually provide morale messages geared toward doing right, rather than wrong. These tales are a wonderful way to teach children through an engaging and entertaining story.

Since the tale, as with many ancient tales, involved an adult as the protagonist the first step needed was to rewrite it for today’s children’s market. This meant it needed a child protagonist.

As I wanted to stay as close to the original tale as I could, I used some of its flavor, descriptions, and names. That’s how the main character’s name, Wang, was chosen.

Along with keeping the story's flavor, I wanted it to be engaging for today’s child, so I came up with new characters, the dragon, enhanced storyline and plot, and so on.

Having an outline to guide me was a great help; it offered a general direction, like an arrow pointing North. So, as I began to rewrite the tale it was able to take on a life of its own, while still heading North. And, to ensure the story kept its flavor, I made sure to include bits of the original story to keep it as close to the tale’s outline as possible.

Working on the story, I knew it needed to take place in ancient China, so decided to use the 16th century as the backdrop for the story.

To add an element of realism to the story, I researched ancient China, including foods, flowers, dwellings, and clothing. I also contacted the writer who gave me the outline for some additional cultural information.

I worked on the story for well over a year, revising it, having it critiqued numerous times, and revising it some more. I even had it professionally edited before beginning to send it out for submissions.

Fortunately for me, the timing coincided with the 2009 Muse Online Writers Conference and I signed up to have a pitch with 4RV Publishing. As nervous as I was, the pitch went well and the manuscript was accepted.

For the next year, it was more revisions, tweaking, additional elements to the story, and editing to make the middle-grade, fantasy adventure, Walking Through Walls, better than before.

Then the story was ready for a cover illustration.

Aidana WillowRaven was assigned to my book and although the dragon in the story was described as “a shimmering golden dragon,” Aidana ‘felt’ the flavor of the story pointed to a more traditional Chinese dragon. We went back and forth a bit about the dragon’s size and shape, but Aidana’s vision of what the dragon should look like was perfect.

Now, the description of the 'golden dragon' in the story needed to be corrected. So, I changed the text to read, “Suddenly a magnificent dragon with shimmering red and silver scales appeared.”

Done. The description of the dragon and the cover matched; we were ready to move forward.

Next came the interior design formatting, which includes the text. After blocking the text it was determined another six pages was needed to make the spine wide enough. So, I had to come up with more content.

As the story was complete, to fill the page count I came up with an Author’s Note page, four pages of Reading Comprehension, an Activities Page, and after more research eight pages of information on the Ming Dynasty time period and the Chinese dragon.

Finally, Walking Through Walls, a middle-grade fantasy adventure, won The Children's Literary Classics 2012 Silver Award.

Writing a fiction story from its inception to publication can take many paths; this is the path Walking Through Walls took.


This story was originally published at:
http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2015/01/21/writing-a-fiction-story-walking-through-walls-backstory/

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and successful children’s ghostwriter/rewriter. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move and as well as an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

If you’d like more writing tips or help with your children’s story, check out: Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

You can connect with Karen at LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice





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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Writing for Children: Submissions to Contract to Book Promotion to Career Part 2

Welcome back! Yesterday was Part 1 of "Writing for Children: Submissions to Contract to Book Promotion to Career" and today we have the rest of the article, numbers two to four.

So, without further ado here are the next three tips.

*****

2. The Contract 

If you do your homework, your manuscript will eventually find a home. Don’t let initial rejections, if you receive them, deter you. A published writer may not be the best writer, but she is definitely a writer who perseveres.

Read your contract carefully, if you don’t understand something, ask for an explanation.

After you sign a contract, you’ll be ‘put in queue’ and at some point begin editing with the publisher’s editor. From start to actual release, the publishing process can take one to two years.

3. Book Promotion

A couple of months prior to your book’s release, you should begin promotion to help with book sales. This will involve creating an author website and platform - your will need to create visibility for you and your book.

After your book’s release, you will want to take part in virtual book tours, do blogtalk radio guest spots, school visits, and all the other standard book promotion strategies. You can take this on yourself, or you can hire a book promotion service or publicist.

You can check out these articles for book promotion tips:

Book Promotion: The Foundation

Book Promotion: Creating an Informational Funnel

Book Promotion: 20 Strategies that will Broaden Your Reach – Part 1

Book Promotion: 20 Strategies that will Broaden Your Reach – Part 2

4. A Writing Career

Now, you’ve got your book and you’re promoting it like crazy (this is an ongoing process). The next and final step is to repeat the process. You don’t want to be a one-hit wonder, so hopefully you’ve been writing other stories. If not, get started now. On average, an author writes a book every one to two years. 

Along with keeping up with writing your books, having published books opens other writing opportunities, such as speaking engagements, conducting workshops and/or teleseminars, and coaching. There are a number of marketers who say your ‘book’ is your business card or your calling card; it conveys what you’re capable of and establishes you as an expert in your field or niche. Take advantage of these additional avenues of visibility and income.

To read Part 1, go to:
Writing for Children: Submission to Contract to Book Promotion to Career Part 1

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Until next time,
Karen Cioffi
Author, Ghostwriter, Freelance writer, and
Editor for 4RV Publishing

Member of the Professional Writers Alliance, the International Association of Professional Ghostwriters, and the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors.

http://KarenCioffi.com
http://DKVWriting4U.com
Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice
Twitter: http://twitter.com/KarenCV
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Karen-Cioffi-Ventrice/157731977630305?sk=wall

Walking Through Walls 

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