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Wrapping Up!

August 31, 2021– Check out our podcast on Podbean as we wrap up our theme for this month of What Publishers Want! Check in tomorrow to find out what our theme for September will be!

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-patkt-10cb223
The final say on what publishers want.

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FAQ’s What Publishers Want

August 25, 2021-Judge Judy is a staple in our home. We watch it five days a week for the pure entertainment factor and for the sassiness of Her Honour. My favourite thing she does is raise her hands to her mouth and shout, “LISTEN CAREFULLY!” because I can totally relate. Each week, I receive a ton of emails from authors asking for advice. As we finish up what publishers want this month, we’ll be spending the rest of the time answering frequently asked questions. Here’s what we’re talking about today:

Q: I’ve submitted a manuscript four times to the same publication, but I have yet to get published. Why? 

A:  Lean in close because you need to hear this, “THEY DON’T WANT IT.” Why in the world would you submit the same manuscript four times to the same publisher or magazine? The rule of thumb is that if you don’t hear back from the publisher within 3-4 months, you can assume that they’ve passed on your work. Yes, it would be nice if publishers could send you an email telling you that they’re not interested, or even better if they offered advice as to what you can do to improve your work, but the truth is, they’re just too busy! I’m a small publishing house, and I receive 175 submissions per month, minimum, so imagine the big five and how busy they are.  Submitting the same thing to the same publisher only does two things:1) it annoys them, and 2) wastes your time. Your time would be better spent improving your writing skills and looking for ways to continue your writing education. There could be several reasons that publishers pass on your work, but in the meantime, stop thinking about the reasons why and get to work improving your writing skills.

I know this sounds a bit harsh, but I want to be completely transparent with you. Some of you may look at the question posed and think, “Wow, that person doesn’t take no for an answer! Good for them!” but that’s not what publishers see. There’s a difference between being determined and persistent versus obnoxious and annoying.

For more advice from a publisher, check out my number 1 best selling book here: Advice from a Publisher (Insider Tips for Getting Your Work Published!): Bakker, Lacey L., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506141: Books – Amazon.ca

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Don’t Fear the Reaper…I mean rejection

June 9, 2021– I hope you love this month’s theme, which is author mindset! Let’s dig into a topic today that is the bane of many authors’ existence-rejection and the fear of it.

Rejection is part of life, and the sooner we accept that as authors, the better. Every rejection gets us one step closer to getting a YES! Think of some of the greatest people in history; they were rejected time and again but refused to give up, and most importantly, their mindset remained positive.

Fearing rejection is like waiting for the axe to fall; it gives us a deep sense of dread in the pit of our stomachs and paralyzes us instead of pushing us forward despite it. Things like fears of people not liking our work, or worse, ridiculing it, the fear of being “found out” (see my blog post on imposter syndrome), fear of being vulnerable in that once the words are on the page, they can never be taken back, and the fear of being not good enough.

Rejection is an opportunity! Look at Tom Edison and his perseverance in the face of MASSIVE rejection.

Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”-(uky.edu) Wow! If we authors could only have that outlook, our writing lives would change completely!

Some of the most famous and prolific authors were rejected hundreds of times collectively-Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Agatha Christie, Louisa May Alcott, Dr. Seuss, James Patterson, and John Grisham. And they persisted. I don’t know about you, but when I look at the list above, it looks like every single author who made it big got rejected tons of times. That’s good news for the rest of us!

What happens when you embrace rejection? Lots of wonderful things:

  1. You become untouchable. When you embrace rejection, a cool thing happens-you’re not emotionally affected by people’s opinions, words, or made-up situations in your mind. You’re free! The value that you place on yourself and your work is higher than what anyone else may think of you, and that is where your power lies!
  2. You get closer. When you embrace rejection, you get one step closer to your goal. Remember the Edison example? Here’s another one-Chicken Soup for the Soul was rejected 144 times; what if they had given up after 143 times? The point is every time you hear NO as an author, it helps you get to the 1 YES that you need faster. Get the no’s out of the way before you hear the YES!
  3. You grow. As a publisher, I have a rule. I never reject an author’s work without telling them why. I figure that they’re brave enough to send in their work and ask me to look at it that the least I can do is give them more than a form rejection letter. When I first started writing, I had enough rejection slips to wallpaper the side of my house! But I revelled in the advice written on a few of them and took that advice to grow my skills as a writer and be better every day.

I urge you to look at rejection through a different lens; it’s just part of the process, it’s not personal, and what is supposed to be yours is waiting for you on the other side of fear and rejection!

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Under the Covers

May 10, 2021– Today, we’re talking about the importance of covers on children’s picture books. Let’s dig into some marketing! The cover is the FIRST point of contact that you have with your prospective reader. The cover is what draws them in and entices them to pick up the book and show it to their parents (picture books ages 3-7) or turn it over and read the back (middle-grade and YA ages 12-18). We’ll save the mid-grade and YA for another post.

Children’s Picture Book Front Covers: 

  1. Bright and Colourful. Children are naturally drawn to colours that are bold and stand out. Colours like purple, blue, and pink are colours that are a lot more uncommon in nature and thus stand out more. This goes back to our reptilian brain and the need for survival; food that was blue, purple, and pink was uncommon and therefore is noticed by humans more often than other colours (taken from my background in Consumer Neuromarketing and Neuroscience).
  2. Big Font. It needs to be easy to read and give the reader an idea of what’s inside and who the story is centred around, e.g., Panda the Very Bad Cat, The Extreme! Supreme! Dogwalker Darlene!, Carlos Goes on Vacation, The Celestial Squid etc.
  3. The Protagonist. The main character is who kids root for; it’s the hero of the story. There is usually a picture of the protagonist on the front cover, e.g., Curious George, The Paper Bag Princess, Sammy the Singing Cat etc.
  4. Author and Illustrator. In a smaller font, usually near the bottom of the book or off to one side, is where we find the author and illustrator names, not because they aren’t important, just because kids aren’t usually interested in the nuts and bolts of who wrote the book or illustrated it.

Children’s book back cover: 

  1. Blurb. A few sentences about the story, the character, or the plot. This needs to be very exciting and pique the reader’s interest. We often phrase the back of the book blurb as a question; for example, here’s what the back of my book Panda the Very Bad Cat Farm Frenzy says, Panda is back on the farm! Will he be up to his old tricks of causing chaos and mayhem, or will the farmer be able to keep him out of trouble? This is an adventure that you won’t want to miss! This is a good example of getting the reader intrigued enough to find out what happens and if the farmer DOES keep Panda out of trouble or if Panda wins again!
  2. Clear Font. Again, readability is key. Don’t do anything fancy or in cursive writing; make it legible.
  3. Colour Scheme. Tie in the colours from the front to the back so that it all fits together. I don’t love it when there are a bunch of different colours on the back of the book that clash with the front. The entire cover should work together as a whole. Feel free to include a cute supporting character such as a mouse, a dog, or whatever other object makes an appearance in your book. Pick one, too many can be visually overwhelming.
  4. Include Social Media. This is where your website should go, email to where the reader can get ahold of you, and anything else you want to include, such as social media info (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.), but be sure to keep it all in one space in the corner as not to take away from any elements of design or the message of the book.

As you can see, covers for kids’ books are essential. Have fun, be bold, and get creative! To check out our collections of kid’s books click here: Products – Pandamonium Publishing House

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Strive, Study, Try and Test

April 20, 2021-Sometimes we all need a push to get us to take risks. During April, we’re talking about how to push the envelope in your writing and today’s post takes that a bit further. Let’s talk about pushing the envelope by committing to yourself and your writing. Here are some great ways to take your writing to the next level:

  • Strive to learn new things. When is the last time you’ve taken a class, workshop, or writing seminar? What have you learned recently that will improve your writing? If you haven’t learned anything new, how can you expect to write differently or get a different result in your submissions? I’m a huge advocate for continuing education and learning as much as possible. But you have to put what you learn into action to have any result!
  • Study different methods. How can you possibly push the envelope in your writing if you don’t study different storytelling methods? There are so many ways to change the narrative, a ton of ways to outline, hundreds of different ways to push your characters to the max, and infinite ways to improve your writing. If you’re not learning new ways of writing and the elements that writing includes, you will be stuck until you change something.
  • Try out radical ideas. Remember when choose your own adventure novels were unheard of? Or collaborating with other authors on a series just wasn’t done? What about alternate endings? You owe it to yourself to test new ideas and see what develops. Who cares if it doesn’t work? At least you’re expanding the possibilities and trying new things.
  • Test the boundaries of what is safe or acceptable in any given situation. Have you heard of this book? Marian Engel’s 1976 novel Bear, which tells the story of a relationship between a woman and her bear (yes, the animal) lover, has been called one of the most controversial books in Canadian literary history. Yeah, pretty weird, but it pushed the envelope and is now infamous for its departure from the norm.

Don’t be afraid to push yourself in your writing; you never know where it can lead! To continue your education with us, check out some of our classes and workshops here: Best-Seller Bootcamp – Pandamonium Publishing House, Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House, Transitioning from Writer to Author (An Introductory Course) – Pandamonium Publishing House, Course: Get Your Book Noticed and Increase Your Sales – Pandamonium Publishing House, Novel Writing Course – Pandamonium Publishing House

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Fresh Four

April 6, 2021– We’re talking about pushing the envelope in your writing this month and as we go down the rabbit hole, we’ll explore various topics and ideas that will help you grow as an author. Here are four fresh new ways to do something different and new in your writing.

  1. Explore topics that aren’t usually written about. This is great for blogs, and very niche markets, especially for e-books. People will pay for specialized information that they can have at their fingertips just when they need it! For example, let’s say it’s tax time and you’re an accountant, you could write A Tax Guide for Canadian Small Business Owners with Income Less than $50,000 Per Year (You Could Be Missing These Essential Write offs!) as an example. The narrower your focus, the better chance you have at becoming a best seller and reaching a group of people who need info fast and are willing to pay for it.
  2. Recreate yourself/your sound (narrative). Artists are always re-creating themselves. If we look at authors who have explored different genres, written in different narratives, and have used pen names, we’d have a long list! Some notable authors who have done this include Stephen King, Mark Twain, George Orwell, Lemony Snicket, and Stan Lee. Some authors have had complete makeovers and changed their lifestyles to become more interesting or mainstream or talked about, we’re looking at you E.L. James and your fabulous red-carpet collection of gowns!
  3. Include something that grabs your reader’s attention. Perhaps it’s a contest, or exclusive access to a choose your own adventure series online, anything that engages and grabs your reader is essential in keeping them interested in your work. Maybe it’s an official soundtrack or an alternate ending that you’ve included that helps you push the envelope not only in your writing, but what readers can expect from you as an author.
  4. Collaborate with other authors. This is a great way to expand your writing and your skills. Teaming up with other authors in a collaborative book will help motivate you to step up your writing game. It can push you to explore new ideas and write in a way that you don’t typically write; it can be a fantastic way to get your head out of the box and unleash your creativity.

If you’d like to the chance to collaborate with us on a book, now is your chance; we want your pet stories! Send us stories about how your pet changed your life for the better to pandapublishing8@gmail.com and for submission guidelines/details.

If you’d like more advice on what publishers are looking for, check out my number 1 best selling book here: Advice from a Publisher (Insider Tips for Getting Your Work Published!): Bakker, Lacey L., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506141: Books – Amazon.ca

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Write for Real Life

April 5, 2021-Sometimes by playing it safe in our writing we limit our opportunities for growth not only as authors, but in finding out about the world around us and the people that live there. Today I’m going to talk about what publisher’s want to see when it comes to pushing the envelope in your writing.

  • New solutions to old problems. If we use YA books as an example, some of the subject matter written about involves divorce, substance abuse, the character finding themselves, peer pressure, eating disorders, and more. As a publisher, I want to see new solutions to these old issues and not always a happy ending. Divorce, for example, could include the main character going to live with her grandparents or best friend’s family, or even better, striking out on her own and figuring things out herself. Maybe she sides with the mother’s new spouse or the father’s new partner, perhaps she decides to move abroad and get some space from the whole situation. The possibilities are endless, and they should all be explored when brainstorming. Going with the least obvious choice is a sure way to get your query read.
  • Fresh perspectives. Publishers are sick of seeing the same old perspective, and I’m not just talking about the type of narrative (e.g., first person), when authors submit their work. We want to see fresh perspectives, we want new voices, and we want to hear voices that have been stifled up until now. We want more diversity in the way characters are presented, where they come from, and how they see and deal with the world around them.
  • Real characters. Not every character should be white, blonde, and blue-eyed. We need to show unique characters in our writing just as we observe in the real world; people come in different shapes, sizes, abilities, challenges, and personalities and we should strive to include them because these facts are authentic, real, and sometimes raw. Think back to the last time you saw a character in a wheelchair or with leg braces on in a children’s book; what about the last time you read about a character with Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy? The point is, authors need to embrace the real people, their challenges, and the situations around them.

You’ll have to do a lot of research on topics you don’t know about when writing things if they are not something that you’ve experienced such as ableism, health challenges, relationship issues, etc. But please remember to bring in the experts and do not appropriate cultures. There are a lot of stories that are not ours to tell. Stay tuned for more advice in pushing the envelope in your writing all this month. If you’d like help with your manuscript or don’t know where to start, check out some of our courses and classes here: Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House, Transitioning from Writer to Author (An Introductory Course) – Pandamonium Publishing House, Best-Seller Bootcamp – Pandamonium Publishing House

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The Best Part and Biggest Challenge

March 31, 2021-We made it! We’ve answered your questions all this month and are so thankful to each reader who sent us an email. Just because the theme of the month is over doesn’t mean that we won’t continue answer your questions. Email us any time at pandapublishing8@gmail.com. We’re always happy to hear from you! Let’s dig into our final question for March.

Q: What is the best part of being an author and what is the biggest challenge?

A: What a great question to end our theme with this month! There are a lot of “best parts” of being an author to me. These are some of my personal favourites.

  • Seeing people enjoying your book in public-There’s no feeling quite like this. Seeing people enjoying my books is priceless. One of my favourite things to ever happen was when I was travelling on vacation. I was boarding a plane and heading to my seat when my husband tapped me on the shoulder. He said, “Look! That kid is reading your book!” I peered over the seat and saw a child reading Panda the Very Bad Cat. My husband said to the child, “Hey! Guess what? This is the author of that book!” The kid looked up from their book, took one look at me, and said, “No it’s not.” And went back to reading. Talk about being humbled LOL!
  • Receiving emails from readers- I’ve certainly had a lot of these this month and I’m so grateful! Any time readers reach out to me, I make it my duty to respond. Some emails are wonderful and complimentary, some ask questions, and some look for advice; I enjoy reading each one of them and hope that I can help them find their writing path in some small way.
  • School visits- Definitely one of the highlights of my career is reading to kids and lecturing in schools and universities. Sharing my knowledge and stories is extremely fulfilling and I hope to help ignite a love of literacy within them. Plus, there’s nothing quite like the question and answer period in Kindergarten classes! I’ve been asked a number of hilarious questions such as, “How much money do you make?” “Are you famous?” “What is your third favourite reptile?” and my personal favourite, “Is that your real hair?” LOL!
  • Book signings- Meeting my readers in person is an honour. To have people read my books and tell me what they thought is such a thrill. Connecting with readers is what it’s all about and I learn so much from our interactions.I’m beyond grateful for all of our readers and hope to enrich their lives in some small way, even for a brief moment, through storytelling.
  • Continuing Education– I’ve been so fortunate to be able to continue my education around the world. I’ve studied publishing and writing in Boston, New York, Toronto, and London, England. I’ve completed courses at Wharton, Copenhagen University, and Stanford and am excited to continue to learn and grow as an author and publisher. Learning never stops in this business and I’m always trying to find new and innovative ways to tell stories and to put our books into the hands of readers. I think that I’ll always be a perpetual student.
  • Publications- It’s pretty cool to walk into Walmart or a bookstore and see my name on the shelf. Whether it’s in a magazine, a newspaper, or book, it’s always thrilling. One of the highlights of my writing life so far, is picking up a magazine at the checkout of the grocery store and seeing an article I wrote. Women’s World is a magazine I write for quite frequently and their readership is 1.6 million people worldwide. That’s epic if you ask me that that many people are reading my stories. Chicken Soup for the Soul was another thing I celebrated (I’ve been published with them twice so far) seeing on the shelf because to join such an amazing and well respected publication was icing on the cake! They’ve sold 11 million copies around the world and to have my stories as part of that is such a great feeling.

While trying to answer the second part of your question, I’m sitting at my laptop watching the cursor blink on the page. This question took me a lot longer to answer. What is the biggest challenge of being an author? This is so hard for me to answer because I love what I do so much and am so fortunate to write for a living. After thinking for awhile, I guess I’ll say that rejection is the hardest part of being an author, but even that, we learn from. Rejection is something that we never really get used to and if we take it to heart, it can be really destructive. But the good outweighs the bad. It’s a career that I highly recommend!

If you’d like to continue to get advice on your writing and publishing questions, check out my number 1 best selling book here: Advice from a Publisher (Insider Tips for Getting Your Work Published!): Bakker, Lacey L., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506141: Books – Amazon.ca

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Spend the Money?

March 24, 2021-As we begin to wrap up our theme of answering your most asked questions this month, I hope that you’re gaining some insight into the business of writing and what challenges authors face. If you’d like to submit your question, send us an email to pandapublishing8@gmail.com. Here’s what we’re tackling today:

Q: “Lately I’ve been hitting a wall with rejections and I don’t know what the problem is. Should I spend money on writing classes to see if they can help?”

A: I think it’s smart that you’re realizing that there could be an issue with your writing and that’s why you’re getting rejected. It could be a possibility that your writing needs to be improved and I am a huge advocate for continuing education. Yes, if you can afford to, it will be worth spending your money on writing courses. You’ll learn so much from the course material and you can narrow down what you’d like to focus on by choosing the course that suits you best. Writing conferences and workshops have helped improve my own writing dramatically and I’m so fortunate to have traveled around the globe to participate in them. Writing classes can help you with things that you may be overlooking such as industry standards, grammatical/punctuation/sentence structure errors, and can provide new and exciting inspiration!

Check out some of our writing programs here: Transitioning from Writer to Author (An Introductory Course) – Pandamonium Publishing House, Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House, Best-Seller Bootcamp – Pandamonium Publishing House, Course: Get Your Book Noticed and Increase Your Sales – Pandamonium Publishing House

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This or That?

March 9, 2021– We’re continuing to answer your questions this month! All through March, we’ll explore the subjects you care about. To submit your question, send us an email to pandapublishing8@gmail.com. Let’s dive in to today’s question!

Q: “I’m a novice writer and I’ve had a couple of pieces published in some magazines that I subscribe to. I’ve decided to take the leap and write a novel. I adore mysteries and romance, but I’m not sure which one to choose to write my novel about. Can you help me decide?”

A: First off, congratulations on being published! That’s fantastic and no small feat, you should be very proud of yourself. As for helping you decide what to write about, I’m afraid I won’t be of much use in helping you answer that question; writing is a very personal thing and only you can decide for yourself. I will tell you that your heart has to be in it and that if you aren’t authentic, it will not only disappoint your readers, but you’ll disappoint yourself with trying to force something that you’re just not that in to. But, what if you combine the two things that you love to read about, you’d have a sub genre of what we call cozy romance. Here is the definition of  a cozy romance according to the Huffington Post: Cozies are fun to read! Murderers in cozy mysteries are generally intelligent, rational, articulate people, and murders are pretty much bloodless and neat. Violence and sex are low-key and supporting background characters bring comic relief to the story. Plus there is/are romantic interest(s) and interlude(s) between characters. A lot of cozy romances are set during holidays such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and so on. This sub genre is one of my most favourite to read when I need a break from my usual stuff that’s a bit heavier. Here are a few fun statistics for you about the cozy romance market share:
Cozy Romance Novel Sales in 2020
* $1.1 billion That’s roughly one-fifth of all adult-fiction sales.
* 46 percent of romance consumers read at least one book per week. In comparison, the typical American reads five books a year.
Cozy Romance Readers At A Glance:
*Age 30-54
*College/University-educated
*Average Income $55K
*Relationship Status 59 percent are coupled, 84 percent are women, 16 percent are men
*Romance readers are more likely than the general population to be currently married or living with a partner.

I know that perhaps all of this info didn’t really answer your question. The point is to write what you love! And as cliché as it sounds, write the book that you want to see on the shelf. If you want to take your writing to the next level, check out our classes here: Best-Seller Bootcamp – Pandamonium Publishing House  Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House