February 1, 2019– Things come in waves around here and I think that it’s kind of funny; sometimes all I’ll receive is middle-grade manuscripts, then the next time I’ll receive sci-fi submissions, and lately everyone seems to be sending me their ideas for children’s books. Since I’ve had such an influx of kid’s book submissions, let’s talk about how to better your chances of getting a picture book deal with my house.
There have been a ton of incorrectly submitted kid’s book queries and manuscripts in their entirety sent to me as of late (we’ll talk about queries in another post) so I thought that I’d be very specific on what to submit.
Time– Know that if you do get a deal signed with me, your book (any book) will take 2-5 years to hit the shelf. If this is too much time for you to wait then you have bigger problems and this industry will eat you alive. Patience is of the essence and great things take time. We are not in the business of rushing a book, throwing it on the shelf, and hoping for the best. Every single thing is calculated beforehand in terms of a marketing plan, securing the best illustrator for the project, editing the manuscript, obtaining dates for book signings, and cover design. If you’re not in this for the long haul and don’t have a ton of patience, you’re going to be in trouble.
Word Count– Is your picture book between 250-800 words? My personal preference for this type of book is 600-800 words. I prefer this length because it gives us time to get the story across and create a compelling character without leaving any loose ends.
Character– Is your story character driven? Is your character relatable? Does the character participate in a universal childhood experience? If your story is none of these or only one of these, it’s back to the drawing board for you. Don’t bother submitting because you aren’t ready and you don’t understand your market.
POV- Which point of view is your story told from? There’s only one that matters and it’s the child’s point of view. Don’t make mom or dad the main character. Kids see the world from their perspective and not ours. This means that if they’re in a grocery store for example, they probably won’t be able to reach a box of cereal from the top shelf. Or maybe it’s a mass of people in the store and the child comes to eye level with everyone’s butts. You get the point (of view).
Fresh-Is your story something new, fresh, and from a different angle? Let’s use the universal childhood experience again; picky eater books all read the same except for the very good ones. Dragons Love Tacos is a perfect example of a good one because it deals with foods that kids hate, but it puts a fresh and fun spin on it. Sure, making tacos for dragons may not be a universal childhood experience, but not liking certain foods is! Another awesome example of a fresh, different angle kid’s book is The Day the Crayons Quit. Talk about genius!
Kids-And perhaps the most important question of all is, will your book appeal to kids? They are the target audience and if they don’t like it, you can believe that their parents won’t buy it for them. If you’re not writing with kids in mind, then you shouldn’t be writing for kids in the first place.
There you have it! Before sending in your work, know the rules above and I promise that you’ll better your chances of working with us. X LLB
October 3, 2018- Ahhh, book clubs! I will say that I’m a huge fan of them and the discussions that take place over wine or coffee with friends. A couple of years ago, I started a book club, and our first meeting was in the summer in my backyard; it was also our last meeting. We read The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules. To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of the book, and I hoped for a lot more from it from what I had read on the back. Sometimes that’s a problem, isn’t it? We expect the inside of the book to be as good as, the back cover. But, now I’m rambling. Here are four tips for hosting a book club:
Get some friends together and figure out what you’re going to read. What we did in our group when it came to choosing a book, it was the hostess picks first, then we take turns by birth month. If you have two people who are both born in the same month, the person with the earlier date goes first. It’s pretty diplomatic this way, and it also allows you to read outside of your genre which I’m always harping on!
Set a time, date, and timeline. You need to decide how long the book will take to read, how long the book club meeting should be, and when the book club meeting will take place. For example, your book club could take place every third Tuesday of the month, the discussion is an hour long, and the book needs to be read in a month. It’s easy when you have a schedule to abide by.
Choose a location. Again, what we did, was give each person a turn to host the book club in their home. If we were reading your book choice for the month, you were also the host of the book club meeting. Don’t feel any pressure to use this method though, you can comfortably host a book club at your local library or even a park, restaurant, or public place.
Get your thoughts together. At our book club, w decided that we were just going to have an open discussion about the book and the characters with really no end game in mind. Sometimes the questions got off topic, and sometimes we were able to really stay in the moment. What I would recommend this time is to have a list of questions prepared. Perhaps every member could bring three questions or subjects to discuss that have to deal with the theme, characters, or even the style of writing. You could also talk about the ending, the parts you didn’t like, and why.
Unfortunately, life got in the way of us carrying on our book club, and we kind of let it dissolve on its own. I’d love to start one up again one day soon, and in this day and age, there are so many ways to stay connected! Think outside of the box and maybe think about hosting a Skype-based book club or a chat room book club, but most of all, have fun!
March 8, 2018- I feel that the title to this particular post is slightly misleading. It’s not really a How-To type of post, but rather some real world tips on I personally finished two novels this year. I’m no different than you are. I have a family, pets, a household and I am the head of two companies and counting. I am a wife, a sister, an aunt, a daughter, a writer, a publisher, a public speaker, a teacher, and I enjoy lots of different hobbies in my free time, just like you! With all of these demands on my time, how is it even remotely possible that I’d be able to finish one novel in a year, let alone two? Here’s a not so secret, secret; I write when I can, wherever I can, when there are spaces in between.
That’s not saying that I’m not disciplined with my writing, but there are some days that get skipped because there are more pressing demands on my time. Personally, this is my process and this process will be different from author to author.
I start with an idea– I have at least 6 notebooks that are packed to the brim with story ideas or as I like to call them, story starters. That’s not to say that I’ll use all of them or any of them, but this allows me to start brainstorming when inspiration strikes. I read them every now and again and more often than not, they lead me to begin forward motion on my writing.
I create an outline-If anyone has sat in on any of my classes, they know how mental I am about outlining! Outlining allows me to know what the story is about, where it’s going, and how it ends. I don’t need to know every single detail, but I need a general idea and some good bones of the story to get a feel for it. Sometimes my outlines are elaborate, sometimes they’re simple. It depends and most of the time there is no rhyme or reason for which way I decide to do it.
I write in between-As mentioned earlier in my post, I write in scraps of time that I manage to pull together here and there. I write in notebooks, and on pieces of napkin, on backs of discarded envelopes, and on my phone. I write wherever I can and whenever I can. I write while waiting in the doctors office, I write while on hold on a phone call, I write in my truck if I arrive ten minutes early to an appointment and I write in between meetings. THIS is the single most effective thing that I have ever done to finish my novels, because let’s face it, no one sits down to start and finish a novel all in one shot.
With all things considered, I urge you to write in a disciplined manner, setting aside blocks of time each day to tackle your novel, but don’t neglect those stolen moments.
December 26, 2017-I found this awesome cheat sheet for creating conflict from Sacha Black! Enjoy and keep writing:)
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