Showing posts with label writing career. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing career. Show all posts

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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Building a Writing Career Takes Practice and Focus


A few years ago, my grandson, 10 at the time, was trying out for the All County Band in his area. He told me the piece he had to play was difficult. I told him that practice is a powerful tool. Just 10-15 minutes a day will help tremendously.

Obviously, the more practice the better, but my grandson, like so many kids today, has ADHD. Reducing the amount of time on practicing doesn’t make it seem overwhelming – it’s doable.

This philosophy will work for anything, including writing.

What does it take to have a flourishing writing career?

1. Learn the craft and practice it.

To be a ‘good’ writer, an effective writer, a working writer, you need to know your craft. The only way to do this is to study it.

If you’re starting out, take some courses online or offline or both. You should also read a lot of books on the craft of writing. Get a strong grasp of the basics.

We’re all familiar with “practice makes perfect.”

There’s a reason that saying has lasted. It’s true.

Writing coach Suzanne Lieurance says, “Writing is a lot like gardening because it takes constant pruning and weeding.”

You need to keep up with your craft. Even as your get better at it, keep honing your craft. Keep learning more and more and practice, practice, practice

So, what does it mean to practice?

Simple. Write. Write. Write.

An excellent way to improve your writing skills is to copy (type and/or handwrite) content of a master in the niche you want to specialize in.

This is a copywriting trick. You actually write the master’s words and how to write professionally mentally sinks in.

Now, we all know that this is just a practice tool. We should never ever use someone else’s content as our own.

A second way to improve your writing skills is to read, read, and read some more. Read books in the genre you want to write in particular. Study the books.

2. Focus in on a niche.
Have you heard the adage: A jack of all trades and master of none?

This is the reason you need to specialize.

You don’t want to be known as simply okay or good in a number of different niches. You want to be known as an expert in one or two niches.

This way, when someone is looking for a writer who specializes in, say, memoirs and autobiographies, you’re at the top of the list.

I would recommend that your niches are related, like memoirs and autobiographies or being an author and book marketing.

Along with this, focus produces results.

According to an article in Psychology Today on focus and results, Dan Goleman Ph.D. says, “The more focused we are, the more successful we can be at whatever we do. And, conversely, the more distracted, the less well we do. This applies across the board: sports, school, career.”

So, practice and focus your way to a successful writing career.

This article was originally published at:
 http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2017/02/12/building-a-writing-career-practice-focus/ 


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 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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The WEB: Your Writing at Risk



How The Web Can Kill Your Writing Career

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning The Frugal Editor

I recently read a grammar and editing column in my local newspaper, the Glendale News-Press. In  June Casagrande’s “A Word Please,” she groused about the problems so many writers having with hyphens. She noted the sad (or not so sad) influence of the Web on our grammar, punctuation, and style choices and there are enough of them to give the average author who pulled down As in English a big headache!

June mentioned the disappearing hyphen as one of the things we authors must contend with. but that is just the beginning. The Net also encourages us to push all kinds of words together. Let’s call that the "domain name influence" or, perhaps the domainnameinfluence or maybe #hashtaginfluence. Do we write “book” or “bookcover?” “Bookfair” or “book fair?” “Backmatter” or “back matter?” “Hard copy” or “hardcopy?”

You’ll never know because generally the trusted Chicago Style Guide doesn’t weigh in on these trends and dictionaries haven’t caught up with the quickly changing domainnameinfluence or the #hashtaginfluence either. And the spell checker in Word? Well, it doesn’t put a red squiggle under either “Hard copy” or “hardcopy.” That leaves the writer—whether she’s writing fiction or a resume in a style-choice pickle.


In The Frugal Editor, I suggest the zero-tolerance approach to keep authors out of hot water with agents and publishers (and therefore make it more likely they'll get published).

Still, I admit I love to stick words together. It isn’t really a new thing. I mean, word-bonding is a time-honored tradition in English. The word therefore is an example. We’ve been using words like that for eons. Word-gluing goes back to the English language’s Germanic roots. German is a creative language. The Deutsch do things like push the words for finger and hat together to make the word for thimble (fingerhut).

Poets have pushed words together for ages, too. So, except when I am trying to get something like a pitch or a query or a book proposal past a gatekeeper, I make combined-word style choices for myself and let the so-called rules be damned.

We authors can have it our way—we just need to be careful where we choose to exercise our independence!

Back to the zero-tolerance thing. If you want to impress a literary agent or prospective boss, please don't put hyphens in words they are convinced are correct only one way. If you think your contact believes it's nonfiction, not non-fiction, there is no point flaunting your style choice.

You won’t get a red squiggle with either version from your Word spell checker (or spellchecker), but that doesn’t mean your run-of-the-mill agent or future employer won’t be more judgmental.

I could go on and on about the way the web has mislead us. It practically coaxes us to overuse ampersands and most don’t have the faintest idea we’re being misled. We see question marks and exclamation points and caps and titles overused.

What if we emulate those affectations because they start to become so familiar we think they’re being used correctly?

Agents and publishers will hate it, that’s what. And that can be disastrous for our careers.

Then there is improperly punctuated dialogue. We see it on the web and even in books. There are many other grammar idiosyncrasies that your English teacher never told you but that are sure to annoy the feature editor at The New York Times or the powerful agent you want to impress.

The list is endless. Lucky that writers have June Casagrande's grammar books like Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies (Penguin), and my multi award-winning book, The Frugal Editor,  to help them through the grammar and syntax swamps, isn’t it.

Note: June's column may be read in the Glendale News-Press's website and she is the author of two of Carolyn’s favorite grammar books, Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies, and The Best Punctuation Book. Period.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND A COUPLE READING TIPS

Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. All her books for writers are multi award winners including the first edition of The Frugal Book Promoter, and the second. Her The Frugal Editor, now in its second edition, won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. Her most recent book in series is , How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career

Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts.


Traditional Book Publishing - Contract to Sales to Career


You’ve chosen to write books, possibly children’s books, and you’ve done it right. You did your homework and learned the craft of writing. You created a polished manuscript and submitted it to publishers.


And, knowing it’s not necessarily the best writer who gets published, but the one who perseveres, you were steadfast and didn’t let initial rejections and lapse of time prevent you from moving forward.

Now, it’s finally happened - all your hard work paid off. A publisher accepted your book and you’re on your way.

But, this is far from the end of your writing journey . . . this is just the beginning.

After your book is accepted for publication, there are three steps you will go through on your writing journey . . . if you intend to make writing books a career.

1. The Book Contract

Once you get a publishing contract, you may want to sign it as soon as you can. 

DON’T DO IT!

Be sure to read the contract carefully before signing it. If you don’t understand something, ask for an explanation. Once you’re sure everything in the contract is okay and you agree with it, sign away.

After you sign a contract, you’ll be ‘put in queue’ and at some point editing with the publisher’s editor will begin. This will most likely involve revisions to your manuscript. This is okay. It’s part of the process.

Keep in mind that the publisher wants your book to succeed as much as you do. Everything they do is to make it better.

After the story is revised, edited, and proofed, it’ll be ready to go. Depending on the genre you’re writing in, if it’s a children’s book, the publisher will have illustrations created. Your book will also need a book cover.

From contract to actual release, the publishing process can take around 18-24 months.

2. Book Promotion

Once you’re in the submission phase of your manuscript, even before you have a contract, you should begin creating an author website and platform. This will help you create visibility for you and your book. And, publishers want to know their authors are capable of promoting their own books.

You need to become a ‘blip’ on the internet radar. To create and maintain this ‘blip,’ you’ll need to post content to your site on a regular basis and use a number of other strategies to extend your promotional reach. This will include using social media.

After your book’s release, you will want to take part in virtual and real book tours, do radio guest spots (online and off), do school visits, and all the other standard book promotion strategies. You can do this on your own or you can hire a book promotion service or publicist, if it’s within your book marketing budget.

There’s much involved in book promotion, so if you can afford it make use of professionals. Just be sure to ask around for recommendations. You want to use a service or individual who knows what they’re doing and who will give you value for your money.

TIP: Book promotion generates book sales.

You can check out these articles for book marketing tips:

Book Marketing – The Foundation

What is an Author Platform and How Do You Create It?

3. A Writing Career

Now, you’ve got your children’s book and you’re promoting it like crazy (this is an ongoing process). This is super-exciting and the beginning of your writing career.

To have a writing career though, you need to repeat the process. This means you need to write and publish other stories. Ideally, you should have been writing a new story or stories when you were waiting to get a contract for your first manuscript. 

If you haven’t been writing new stories, get started now.

Keep in mind though that it’s not about quantity. It’s about quality.

You want to write good books. You want to take your time to make sure you create books that will engage the reader. Books that the reader will want to see what happens on the next page.

This will establish you as a good writer.

But, a writing career can also be about more than just book sales. It can open doors and lead to other writing opportunities. These opportunities include: speaking engagements, conducting workshops, teleseminars, webinars, and coaching. 

Summing It Up

Writing books, whether children’s books or other, is about learning the craft. And, if you’re taking the traditional publishing route, it’s about submitting to publishers and getting contracts. Then it’s about book marketing and repeating the process.

Keep your focus on your goal and persevere.




Successful Writing Strategy: Know Your Intent


Intent is a crucial factor in success. But, what exactly does this mean?

According to Merriam-Webster, intent is an aim, a clear and “formulated or planned intention.” It is a purpose, “the act or fact of intending.”

Intent is a necessary factor on any path to success, including your path to writing success. You need to know what you want, what you’re striving for. And, that knowledge has to be clearly defined.

An unclear destination or goal is similar to being on a path that has very low hanging branches, an assortment of rocks that may hinder your forward movement, uneven and rugged terrain, branches and even logs strewn across the road; you get the idea. You kind of step over the debris, look around or through the branches, you don’t have a clear view of where you’re going.

A clear-cut goal is akin to walking on a smooth and clear path. No goal related obstacles to hinder your forward momentum or vision.

But, let me add to the sentence above, while intent is crucial, it’s an active and passionate pursuit of your intent that will actually allow you to achieve success. It reminds me of a passage in the Bible at James 24:26, “Faith without works is dead.”

While the intent is there, if you don’t actively take the needed steps to get from A to B, walk-the-walk, rather than just talk-the-talk, you’ll never reach your goal.

To realize your intent, it would be beneficial for you to create a list of questions and statements outlining the specifics to that intent.

A few of questions you might include are:

- What is your ultimate success goal?
- What does the obtainment of your goal mean?
- After picturing it, what does success look like to you?
- How will you reach your goal?

So, how would you answer these questions?

As a writer, perhaps your goal is to write for one or two major magazines. Maybe you’d prefer to be published in a number of smaller magazines. Possibly you want to author a book a year and have them published by traditional publishing houses. Or, maybe you want to self-publish your own books at a faster or slower pace.

Maybe success to you is to make a comfortable living, or you may be very happy with simply supplementing your income. Maybe you want to be a professional, sought after ghostwriter or copywriter. Maybe you want to be a coach, a speaker, offer workshops, or present teleseminars. These are just some of the potential goals for a writer.

Whatever your vision of success is, you need to see it clearly, write it down (it’d be a good idea to also create a vision board), and take the necessary steps to get you where you want to be.

If you find you have a realistic success vision, and are taking the necessary steps to achieve your envisioned intent, at least you think you are, but you still can’t seem to reach the goal, then perhaps your efforts aren’t narrowly focused enough. Maybe your success vision is too broad.

Wanting to be a writer is a noble endeavor, but it’s a very broad target. There are so many niches within the writing arena that if you don’t focus on one or two in particular, you’ll be known as a ‘jack of all trades, master of none.’

Try narrowing down, fine tuning your goal. Remember, it’s essential to be specific and focused.

It might be to your advantage to create success steps that continually move you forward on the path to reaching your ultimate goal.

For someone new to writing, the first step on a writing career would be to learn the craft of writing.

You might give yourself a year or two to join writing groups, take advantage of writing workshops or classes, write for article directories, or create stories.

You should also be part of at least one critique group. This would be your first step to achieving your intent, your success vision.

Instead of trying to go directly from A to B, it might be more effective to go from A to A1 to A2 to A3 . . . to B. But, again, for each step, the intent, a clear-cut vision, and the driving passion all need to be front and center.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter/ rewriter. For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact me at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

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So, I Hear You’re a Writer?




How does that feel when someone at a party asks you? Do you own up to it proudly, or, change the subject?

I’ll admit I haven’t written a novel, but I am a writer. I’ve written countless short stories and poetry. I haven’t let my creative juices stop flowing.

Are you ashamed because you haven’t written a book? You shouldn’t be! I have been published and it has brought me joy. Would I like to make a lot of money writing…Yes? Who wouldn’t?

You are a writer if you’ve written something and posted it somewhere. Do you have a blog you are writing for? That’s a great step in helping your writing career. I used to be the assistant editor of Long Story Short ezine with Denise Cassino. We helped many new writers get published. I hope there are other ezines that do that, I just don’t know. I replied to every submission, whether to accept or not. The ones we thought needed a little bit of help, we helped them flesh out the story.

Here are a few facts that can help or harm your writing thinking:

1.    Are you getting any encouragement from your family or friends? A lot of families believe it’s just a hobby for you. Right? Do they take any interest in what you wrote? No? Get over it and write. If that’s your passion then nothing will stand in your way.

2.    Are you easily hurt by rejection letters or by family and friends? You need to realize that rejection is part of the writing game. I say game because then you must write and figure where this story or article would best be placed. Then you contact that magazine and see if they are interested. Stephen King was rejected 30 times for his book, Carrie.

3.    Join a writing group. This is important if you’ve had trouble with acceptances. I used to run a writing group where I would give out 4 topics to choose from and write about. Then members had to read each other’s stories and give critiques. Sometimes your own eye will miss a misspelling or grammar mistake, and the group will most likely find them. It helps to hear from other authors what might work in your story. Remember, don’t change your own voice to someone else’s in the group. And always leave the writer with something positive.

4.   Write what you know. Have you heard that before? I personally think research and reading can give your mind a boost and help you write about something you never knew before. Train your mind to discover new things. YouTube is an interesting place to find different subjects to write about. Use that part of your brain to learn more things. Don’t let your mind go numb.

5.   Write every day. Now, this is a phrase you hear a lot from writers. I work promoting author’s books, so I do some writing every day. It’s not the kind of writing like I do here. I really don’t write a story or article every day, but when I do, it feels good. I feel like I’ve accomplished something worthwhile. I hope it’s worthwhile to you readers. I hope what I am writing is helping you, the reader.

The purpose of a writer is to connect with our readers. I like helping others. If you have a question about anything, I hope you leave a comment. Maybe there is something specific you want to know about. I’ll do my best to answer you.

Just remember, you are a writer when you put pen to paper, fingers to your keyboard, or voice to a recorder. Don’t worry about what other people think, keep writing. Even if it is a hobby, so what!  Do what you enjoy doing.

Your writing friend.





Linda Barnett-Johnson is a Virtual Assistant for authors and enjoys writing poetry, short stories, and making up quotes. Many of her articles and poetry have been published. She’s a former editor, former assistant editor of Long Story Short ezine, former administrative director of Long Story Short School of Writing. You can locate her website here: www.lindabarnett-johnson.com She also posts new books, writing articles and author interviews on her blog:  http://lindabarnett-johnson.blogspot.com/  Always looking for guest bloggers that would post writing tips, articles and anything to do with writing.

The Path to Writing Success - Focus, Determination, and Perseverance

By Karen Cioffi

Focus, determination, and perseverance are essential to just about every aspect of your life. Each characteristic is unique and together create a synergy. This is applicable to your writing for children career also.

So, what are these three elements that lead to success?

Focus is one’s ability to concentrate exclusively on a particular thing through effort or attention.

Determination is an unchanging intention to achieve a goal or desired end.

Perseverance takes determination a step beyond by using steady and ongoing actions over a long period of time to ensure its intention is accomplished. It continues on through ups and downs.

These elements combined with positive thinking and projection can be an unstoppable force.

I’m a huge fan of positive thinking and projection. I believe our mind has a great influence over our well being and the direction our life can take. Granted, it’s not always easy to harness that influence, but there is enough content out there, including The Secret, to at least strive to think positive and project.

For example, Jack Canfield and co-creator Mark Victor Hansen, of Chicken Soup for the Soul, were rejected 144 times from publishers. Finally, in 1993, their book was accepted. Since they were in debt and couldn’t afford a publicist, they did their own promotion. In 1995, they won the Abby Award and the Southern California Publicist Award.

In a teleconference I attended with Jack Canfield as the speaker, he said he and his co-author created vision boards of what they wanted. They even took a copy of the New York Times Best Selling Page, whited out the #1 spot, and replaced it with Chicken Soup for the Soul. They put copies of it everywhere, even in the toilet. They had focus, determination, perseverance, and they envisioned and projected success. The rest is history.

On a much smaller scale, my daughter Robyn, practices the philosophy of The Secret. For ten years she had dreamed of being in the audience of the Oprah show. She actually got tickets twice, but for one reason or another she was unable to attend. It didn’t stop her though; she persevered and kept trying. She knew one day she’d accomplish her goal and she did. She attended O’s 10 Anniversary celebration in New York City.

She even got her picture taken. You can check it out at (she’s on the right):
http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Photos-from-O-Magazines-Live-Your-Best-Life-Weekend/5#slide

So, what has this to do with you as a children’s writer? Plenty.

The elements for obtaining your goals are the same whether for business, marketing, life, or writing. Just about every writer has heard the adage: it’s not necessarily the best writers who succeed, it’s the writers who persevere.

Be focused and determined on your writing goals. Have a ‘success’ mindset. This means to project success, along with taking all the necessary steps to becoming a successful and effective children’s writer. And, don’t let rejection stop you – persevere.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author, children’s ghostwriter, and author/writer online marketing instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with a project, visit: Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

And, you can follow Karen at:
Twitter
Facebook
Goolge+
 
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How Do You Build a Successful Writing Career? (3 Tips)

By Karen Cioffi

Writers need to be tough. It’s not an easy arena to be in. Did you know that writers get so many rejections there have actually been studies done on it? And, the statistics aren’t good. Most (well over 90%) of authors who seek representation by agents are rejected. (1)

That’s pretty severe.

Those in the industry, say not to contemplate ‘throwing in the towel’ until you’ve queried a minimum of 100 agents.

Another article at Writer’s Digest says, “don’t even think about giving up until you’ve queried at least one hundred agents.” (2).

But, what if Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen gave up after 100 rejections. They were rejected 144 times before landing a publishing contract.

So, how does a writer become successful?

Well, there are at least 3 characteristics that go a long way in giving a writer a fighting chance.

1. Perseverance.

Perseverance is probably the single most important factor.  You can learn to write. You can improve your writing. You can submit you work more often. But, if you get discouraged when successes don’t come as fast as you’d like or expected, you may start writing less, you may give up.

This is where you need to persevere. Know that it’s not the best writers who succeed, it’ those who persevere.

From personal experience I can attest to this. I work in two niches. I did it for years with not much success. Then suddenly, clients began finding me and hiring me in one of those niches.

More often than not, success is just around the corner. You’ve got to persevere.

2. You MUST set goals.

While perseverance is an essential factor in writing success, without setting goals, what are you persevering toward? You need to be a goal setter.

Your goals need to be specific. What do you really want to succeed at?

- Getting ongoing publishing contracts.
- Getting freelance writing projects on a regular basis.
- Supplementing your income.
- Earning $50,000 per year. Earning $100,000 per year. Earning $500,000 per year. Being a millionaire.
- Becoming a New York Times Best Seller.
- Becoming famous.

I found it more tangible to create monthly income goals rather than yearly ones.

You need to find what your goals are and what strategy to use to obtain them. And, you need to make those goals visible. Create a vision board or write them down and read them every day.

3. Focus

One big pitfall in writing is not having focus.

I mentioned earlier that after years of struggling along, I began to get clients on a regular basis. And, I’ve gotten lots of return and series clients.

One important factor how this came about is I began to focus on one writing niche. I devoted the majority of my time and energy in that area and it paid off.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have more than one writing niche, but if you want to succeed in something, you need to prioritize. You need to focus.

As my writing coach would say, focus on what’s making you money.

Get to work building these three characteristics and see if it doesn’t make a difference. And, let us know how you make out.

References:
(1) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heather-hummel/why-agents-reject-96-of-a_b_4247045.html
(2) http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/dont-give-up-until-youve-queried-80-agents-or-more


Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children's author and children's ghostwriter.

You can connect with Karen at:
Twitter: http://twitter.com/KarenCV
Facebook: http://facebook.com/writingforchildrenwithkarecioffi
GoolgePlus: https://plus.google.com/+KarenCioffiVentrice/about
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/KarenCioffi/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice

This article was originally published at:
http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2016/04/17/how-do-you-build-a-successful-writing-career-3-tips/

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Building a Writing Career Takes Practice and Focus

By Karen Cioffi

My 10 year old grandson is trying out for the All County Band in his area. He was telling me the piece he has to play is difficult. I told him that practice is a powerful tool. Just 10-15 minutes a day will help tremendously.

Obviously the more practice the better, but my grandson has ADHD. Reducing the amount of time on practicing doesn’t make it seem overwhelming – it’s doable.

This philosophy will work for anything, including writing.

What does it take to have a flourishing writing career?
1. Learn the craft and practice it.

To be a ‘good’ writer, an effective writer, a working writer, you need to know your craft. The only way to do this is to study it.

If you’re starting out, take a few courses online or offline or both. Get a strong grasp of the basics.

We’re all familiar with “practice makes perfect.”

There’s a reason that saying has lasted. It’s true.

Writing coach Suzanne Lieurance says, “Writing is a lot like gardening because it takes constant pruning and weeding.”

You need to keep up with your craft. Even as your get better at it, keep honing your craft. Keep learning more and more and practice, practice, practice

So, what does it mean to practice?

Simple. Write. Write. Write.

Again, even if it's for short periods of time throughout the week, you're practicing. 

An excellent way to improve your writing skills is to copy (type and/or handwrite) content of a master in the niche you want to specialize in.

This is a copywriting trick. You actually write the master’s words and how to write professionally mentally sinks in.

Now, we all know that this is just a practice tool. We should never ever use someone else’s content as our own.

2. Focus in on a niche.

Have you heard the adage: A jack of all trades and master of none?

This is the reason you need to specialize.

You don’t want to be known as simply okay or good in a number of different niches. You want to be known as an expert in one or two niches.

This way, when someone is looking for a writer who specializes in, say, memoirs and autobiographies, you’re at the top of the list

I would recommend that your niches are related, like memoirs and autobiographies or being an author and book marketing.

Along with this, focus produces results.

According to an article in Psychology Today on focus and results, Dan Goleman Ph.D. says, “The more focused we are, the more successful we can be at whatever we do. And, conversely, the more distracted, the less well we do. This applies across the board: sports, school, career.

So, practice and focus your way to a successful writing career.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter. She is also an online marketing instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.
Follow Karen at: http://facebook.com/writingforchildrenwithkarecioffi



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Don't Give Up on Freelance Writing too Soon



Since I’m a writing coach, all too often I see people give up on freelance writing too soon.

They quickly manage to get their first writing assignment, but when more assignments don’t come so quickly or easily, after a few weeks (yes, just a few weeks), they often give up and decide the freelance writing life isn’t right for them after all.

They decide to get a regular job – or stick with the regular job they already have.

They still dream about being a writer, so they decide to write a novel in their spare time to keep this dream alive.

This is okay.

But if your dream is to have the freedom (and money) of a fulltime freelance writing career, don’t give up on that dream too soon.

Here’s what to do instead:

1. Make a point of finding 3 writing jobs to apply for every weekday morning.

Notice I didn’t say make of point of looking for 3 writing jobs.

I said make a point of finding 3 writing jobs.

Years ago, when I was starting out as a freelance writer, I quickly discovered that if I just said I was going to look for 3 jobs every weekday morning, many times I looked but didn’t find any jobs to apply for.

But when I changed my goal to actually find 3 writing jobs to apply for and then apply for them, my writing career quickly took off.

Sure, some of the assignments I accepted weren’t my “dream” work, but they gave me experience and income and led to other, better opportunities.

One note here: If you’re confused about which jobs you should apply for on job boards, decide to become an expert at just one or two types of writing services.

Then go after only those types of jobs.

For example, if you want to offer resume writing and related services (like media kits, etc.), then go after only those types of jobs.

When you know exactly the type of jobs you're looking for, you'll be surprised at how quickly you find them.

2. Besides checking job boards, look for writing opportunities on your own.

For example, if you write for children, look through a children’s writers market guide for publishers who hire freelance writers and accept resumes, then send them a cover letter and your resume.

If you want to write for businesses, find several businesses in your area and call and introduce yourself and tell them what you do, or send a letter of introduction to the owners of these businesses.

You can also go to networking events (in person) where local businesses owners go.

This is a great way to find new business clients.

Also, send out queries to local and regional magazines.

I did this when I was just starting and landed a job as a regular columnist for a local publication.

This gave me some income, some great clips for my resume, and some experience working with an editor.

3. Connect with other freelance writers.

Established freelance writers have all sorts of contacts and tend to know about writing opportunities that aren’t advertised.

Surprisingly, most writers are willing to share this information, particularly if a writing opportunity is in an area outside of their expertise or if they’re booked solid and don’t need more work at the moment.

Join a freelance writer’s group (local or online) and make a point of interacting with the other writers in this group regularly.

I’ve gotten all sorts of jobs this way and I’ve also helped other writers get jobs.

Don't give up on a freelance writing career too soon.

Do what it takes to create a little momentum.

Once you do, it won't be long before your writing career really takes off.

Try it!


For more tips to help you build your freelance writing career, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at www.morningnudge.com.


Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, writing coach, certified life coach, and the author of over 30 published books. Learn more about her services at www.workingwriterscoach.com.






From School Teacher to Business Owner—In 4 Months Flat

Guest Post by  M. Shannon Hernandez

During my 11th year as a public school teacher, I met my husband, who lived in Brooklyn, and I packed my bags to accept a teaching position in New York City. I was well aware I would need to return to college and earn my master’s degree, as this is a certification requirement for NY state. I enrolled in Brooklyn College and began working towards a degree in Biology Education. I also knew that I would be losing the tenured position I had worked so hard to earn during my first ten years of teaching in North Carolina. While I wasn’t thrilled about the latter point, because it meant, once again, “proving” myself to a new school district, I accepted it. Within three years of teaching in New York City, my tenure had been granted to me once again.

It was in October of 2012, when Hurricane Sandy blew through our area, that two pivotal pieces of information were revealed to me, changing the course of my life and career. First, I had just been informed by the New York City certification department that I would lose my tenure, again, once I began teaching under my new biology certification the following fall.

I was livid. I cried. I screamed. I made phone calls. And with each person I spoke to, the news was consistent: Because I was switching from a certification in ELA to Biology, my tenure would be taken from me, and I would have to prove, once again, that I was a teacher worthy of keeping.

The second piece of information that changed the direction of my life was revealed to me in my journal during this same week. Because the public schools were being used as emergency shelters for people who had been displaced by Hurricane Sandy, the employees and students were granted a week off from our normal routine. I have always been an avid journal writer, and I was using my journal as a tool to make sense of the destruction and sadness I was witnessing in our area. Because I was still bitter and raw about the tenure situation, pieces of that were also sprinkled throughout the pages.

I woke up on the fourth day of my unexpected week off and took out my journal. I read the previous day’s entry. What emerged on that page—one tiny sentence—changed my life. I had written, “I deserve to be happy again.” As I read that statement, it lodged itself in my heart, and tears spilled down my cheeks. I was sitting at the kitchen table in my Brooklyn apartment, sobbing, tears streaking the ink on the pages. How had I not realized before now just how unhappy I was in my career?

My husband, who was working from home that day, watched all of this emotion unfurl. He knew that I was sick and tired of working in a system that didn’t appreciate me for the teacher I was, and he knew I was struggling terribly with my personal happiness. I remember walking over to his desk, embracing him in a hug, and saying between sobs, “Babe, I have to find a way out of this career. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I can’t return to the classroom next fall.” He hugged me even tighter, and said the four most powerful words that still bring tears to my eyes, “I will support you.”

The next three months were a flurry of activity and a combination of deep reflection, creative thinking, and making moves to get my exit strategy together. I decided that I would open a business in the beginning of 2013, teaching business owners how to write better content for their audiences, as well as helping them tell their own personal stories through digital storytelling. I named my company The Writing Whisperer, and brought on a team of people who were successful in various parts of business, so they could help me build my new dream and prepare for my launch in February.

This may have been one of the most stressful and sleep-deprived times in my life, but I knew I was on the right track because I was happy and excited about my future again! Most days I woke up at 3:00 in the morning and worked on graduate school projects until 6:40, when I left my house and boarded the train to Manhattan. Once I arrived in my classroom, I devoted all of my heart, energy, and focus on my students. When the final bell rang at 3:20, I packed my bags, walked out of the building, got on the train, grabbed a quick forty-minute nap, and headed to my evening college classes. When I finally arrived home at 9:00 at night, exhausted by a full day of work and graduate-level study, I devoted two hours to building my business.

When February of 2013 came around, The Writing Whisperer was ready to launch. Somehow, I had also, despite my hectic, sleep-deprived schedule, graduated with a 4.0 grade point average in my master’s program! Deep within my soul, even before I had my first client, I believed at my core I would be a successful business owner, which would allow me to chart my own course in life, and never have to prove to anyone else, ever again, that I was “good enough.” These are the thoughts that fueled me when uncertainty and fear crept into my brain.

In March, the decision was made. I told the administration that I would not be returning the following year. And in June…I turned in my resignation. I have never looked back. I am now a full-time business owner, author, and writer for The Huffington Post. But you know who else I am? I am a fantastic vegan chef, a student of yoga, a runner training for the 2015 NYC Marathon, and a fun-loving, big-ole-ball-of-energy-world-traveler. I am one happy camper once again!

About M. Shannon Hernandez:

M. Shannon Hernandez is the founder of The Writing Whisperer, and her mission is to help heart-centered entrepreneurs and heart-centered authors find their brand voices, share their unique stories, gain more visibility, establish themselves as experts, and create authentic marketing messages, all through the use of smart content strategy and engaging copywriting. The Writing Whisperer was named one of Top 100 Websites for Writers by The Write Life in both 2014 and 2015, and Shannon has been featured as a content strategy and copywriting expert on many prominent podcasts and websites. She is a leading voice in the world of authentic business writing and heart-centered education reform, and she writes regularly for The Huffington Post. Shannon’s memoir, Breaking the Silence, chronicles her exit out of public education, after 15 years, and provides readers an intimate view of her journey to business ownership, finding happiness, and reinvention.

About Breaking the Silence: My Final Forty Days as a Public School Teacher

America’s public school system is broken and M. Shannon Hernandez knows why, firsthand. After fifteen years in the teaching profession, three gut-wrenching realizations forced her to recognize that she must leave the career she loved so dearly. She knew that if she continued to work for a failing system, she would also continue to lose a little piece of her heart and soul every day.

You are invited into Hernandez’s classroom for the final forty days of her teaching career to understand the urgent need for school reform, clearly demonstrated in each story. You’ll witness the intelligence, vulnerability, and humanity of her students, and the challenges teachers like Hernandez face as they navigate the dangerous waters between advocating for and meeting students’ needs, and disconnected education policy. 

This book is not only a love letter to her students, her fellow teachers, and to the reformed public school system she envisions, but also a heartfelt message of hope, encouragement, and self-empowerment for those who feel they are stuck in soul-sucking careers. It is an essential read for each citizen who is seeking a life comprised of more purpose and happiness, as well as parents, teachers, administrators, and policymakers who know our nation’s education system is in desperate need of an overhaul.

Find Shannon online:

https://www.facebook.com/TheWritingWhisperer
https://twitter.com/writingwhisper
https://www.linkedin.com/pub/m-shannon-hernandez/61/98/731

~~~~~
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It's Never Too Late! Beginning a Writing Career Later in Life

Julia Child wrote her first cookbook at age 50.

Selling 50 million copies around the world, Richard Adams published Watership Down in his early 50's.


Laura Ingalls Wilder was 65 when she published her first "Little House" books.

After raising her family, Harriet Doerr finished her education, and at age 73, wrote Stones for Ibarra, reminiscent of her life in a Mexican mining town.

It's not time to wind down. It's time to get going! It's all about perspective. If you want to write, you will. You just need to know you can be successful, no matter your age.

Points to inspire:

  • Experience. You've accumulated a life time of it. You have something to offer whether it is a self-help book, novel, or magazine articles. Struggles and obstacles combined with creativity can have amazing results. Charles Dickens' experiences working in a factory as a youth is portrayed throughout his writing.
       Do you love to travel? Write about it! Gardening? Write about it! Cooking? 
       Write about it!
  • Education. Don't have it? Don't worry. It's not a necessity to have a college degree in order to be a successful author. Mark Twain, H. G. Wells, and Jack London did not have a college degree. Neither did Maya Angelou, Ray Bradbury, or Agatha Christie. Today, we are fortunate to have the internet. There are free and affordable online courses available to acquire writing skills and learn more about your niche. 
  • Timing. Linda Welch had a character in her mind for years. It wasn't until she arrived in the mountains of Utah, years after leaving her homeland of England and acclimating to life in America, did her character find a story.
Photo credit: DavidTurnbull / Foter / CC BY

  • Perspective. Do you believe in yourself? Will you follow your dreams?

Anita Bruzzese, a writer who specializes in taking control of your career says:
Most notable among the people I interviewed was their “can-do” attitude; they were willing to stretch outside their comfort zone, excited to explore new options and weren’t afraid to admit what they didn’t know. 
Don't hit a dead end because you think it's too late. Even if you don't have the support or encouragement from friends or family, go for it anyway. 

What are you waiting for? Get started today.


~~~


 After raising and homeschooling her 8 children and teaching art classes for 10 years, Kathy has found time to pursue freelance writing. She enjoys writing magazine articles and more recently had her story, "One of a Kind", published in The Kids' ArkYou can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts http://kathleenmoulton.com



As a Writer Are You Constantly Starting Over?

If you want to build a successful freelance writing career or become a published author, but you haven't been able to build your business or write even one complete book, do you find that you're constantly starting over?

What do I mean by that?

Well, do you get motivated and ambitious from time to time, then post to your blog on a regular basis, get some queries and maybe even a few short manuscripts out circulating with publishers, or even start writing a book, but then you get discouraged and distracted and end up taking an extended break from your writing?

I see this happen all the time.

I was even guilty of this type of behavior when I was first started freelance writing.

But I soon discovered that in order to have a successful freelance business and writing career, I had to treat my freelance writing AS a business.

I had to show up for work every weekday (or at least several times a week), whether I wanted to or not, if I was to become a published author and a successful freelance writer.

I had to look for new assignments and complete current assignments (including book manuscripts) on a regular basis.

Avoid Constantly Starting Over

If you're constantly taking extended breaks from your business or your writing, is it any wonder that you don't really have much of a business or a full-fledged writing career?

The good news is, there's a way to avoid constantly starting over.

All you need to do is stay focused on your business and your writing and treat writing as the business you want it to become.

To do this, plan ahead when you need to be away from your business.

Write your blog posts and newsletters ahead of time, then schedule them for publication at the appropriate times.

If you're trying to write a book, plan your book first – so you know exactly what to write – then schedule specific times to write specific sections of your book until you complete the entire manuscript.

You'll never create the momentum that will sustain your business or your writing career if you're constantly starting over.

Plan now for ways to keep moving forward on a regular basis.

Try it!

Need help building your freelance writing business or writing career? Register for this free 5-module e-course, Jumpstart Your Freelance Writing Career and The Morning Nudge now at www.morningnudge.com.

Suzanne Lieurance is an author, freelance writer, certified professional life coach and writing coach, speaker and workshop presenter. She has written over two dozen published books and hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines, and other publications.

She can help you write your first or next novel. Find out more about her Quick Start System to Writing Novels at www.writeanovelstarttofinish.com.



Writing for Children - Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?



If you’re in the children’s book industry long enough, you’ll find out there are two schools of thought. Some editors, authors, and agents believe the chicken came first. Others argue it was the egg.

Personally, after writing over 80 books for such publishers as Scholastic, Reader’s Digest, and Chicago Review Press, I’m a firm advocate of the egg.

What am I talking about? The “chicken” I’m referring to is a manuscript. The “egg” is a contract. If you want to have success, build a rewarding career, and earn a steady income from writing, which should come first, the manuscript or the contract?

There are countless articles interviewing successful writers who believe the chicken came first. These say, “Write the manuscript first and then get it published.” These articles explain how it took years for the author to hone her skills, revise her manuscript innumerable times until it was polished to perfection, and then catch an editor or agent’s eye. There are numerous conferences where editors and agents speak and repeat, “Send me a manuscript that knocks my socks off, and I’ll publish your book.”
   
What I want to know is, how did those authors pay the bills all those years? How did they maintain their sanity through the mountain of rejections? How did they build a career?
   
You see, I believe the egg came first. If you talk to career writers, those successful authors who earn a decent and steady living writing for children, you’ll find a surprise. More often than you realize, these writers land a contract before they write the manuscript.
   
How did I discover this? It happened at my very first conference. A friend said, “I signed you up for an appointment with an editor!” After I got over my shock, curiosity got the better of me. I went to the appointment. And listened. The editor told me about a new book idea she wanted. I found myself nodding my head and saying, “I’ll send you a proposal for that idea.” I went home, followed her directions, and sent her a sample of a potential manuscript. I landed a contract. And then I wrote the book. My very first book.
   
At that same conference, I stood in the lunch line next to a different editor. I asked her what she published. She said a series of Bible storybooks. I asked her if I could try to write one. She explained what to do. I went home and followed her directions. I landed a contract. And then I wrote the book.
   
And so the story continued. Time after time, I landed a contract first, and then wrote the book. I was starting to see a pattern here. It was exciting, and it sure helped pay the bills!
   
The story continues today. I found a blurb in a writer’s magazine saying Sleeping Bear Press was looking for alphabet books about multicultural topics. I studied their website, noted which topics their books already covered, and saw they didn’t yet have an alphabet book about African American history. I e-mailed a query asking if they’d like to see a proposal for such a book. They e-mailed back and said sure. After submitting the proposal, I landed the contract. Then I wrote the book, D is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet. Which came first in the picture book genre, the chicken or the egg? Once again, the egg. The same was true for my teacher’s book, Readers Theatre for African American History. Which came first in the educational market, the chicken or the egg? The egg, again!
   
My search for a new contract usually follows the same pattern. I look in market guides and writers’ magazines, browse bookstores and libraries, and network at conferences and writers’ groups. I look for a publisher who accepts queries. When I find one that interests me, I study their website, look at their catalog, and think of three to five ideas that could fit into their product line. Then I send a query asking the editor if she’d like a proposal on any of those ideas. When that query is in the mail, I look for another publisher to target. If an editor replies and asks for a proposal, I prepare one to submit. If I’ve never written for that genre and the editor requests a writing sample, I ask for a sample assignment so I’m submitting a sample targeted to that publisher. Once that’s in the mail, I continue the cycle again.
   
And so it goes. This method works in every genre. From middle-grade novels to nonfiction to novelty books to fiction picture books, I land the contract first and then write the manuscript. It’s daunting. It takes work. But it’s very, very rewarding. And it helps pay the bills.



Nancy I. Sanders is the bestselling and award-winning author of over 80 books with publishing houses both big and small. She wrote a children’s writer’s column in The Writer’s online magazine, the Institute of Children’s Literature e-news, and The Christian Communicator. Nancy still lands the contract first before she writes the book. You can learn more about how she does it in her award-winning book, Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career.  It shares insider tips and winning strategies that have helped her land over 80 book contracts. Learn more at: http://yesyoucanlearn.wordpress.com




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