Meet KarmaKarma's Many BooksComing UpKarma's BlogPhoto Album
School VisitsFeatures for TeachersParents' PlaceKids CornerContact Karma

Back to Good Karma

Welcome Friends! Here is a place for teachers, parents, librarians and writers to learn what's going on in the world of book author Karma Wilson.

To aspiring writers part 2

First of all, in case you missed it here is part one.

Now that you’ve found your niche you need to perfect your writing.  I’m not going to write a tome here on proper writing technique.  There are volumes upon volumes of “how to” writing books out there to check out.  The one tip I will give you is that when writing for children, especially when writing picture books, brevity is key.  Learn to pare and cut your words down to only that which is necessary to tell your story.

A great tool to utilize is the critique group.  To find critique groups join writing groups like SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) . There are also some great critique groups started up online. Do a google search or check out the forums at places like SCBWI.  

But remember, evaluate the comments carefully.  If you are recieving the same critisism from more than one person you probably need to revisit the story and make necessary change.  You need to know that in this business thin skin equals thinner sales.  You have got to get used to being brutal with yourself and taking critisism from others without getting defensive.  There’s just no room for your ego between the cover of a good book.  However, that said, sometiems critisism is just plain wrong.  I remember being told that my meter off by a lady in a critique group.  Nobody else in the group felt the meter was off at all.  Turns out that lady had a foreign accent.  To her ear the meter was off, but to the readership my poetry was aimed for it was spot on.  Carefully weigh each comment you recieve and allow others to help you.  Once you’ve revised your story put it away for a week or so.  Trust me, when you pull it up later with fresh eyes you’ll be surprised to find things you missed in the first round of revisions. 

Once you feel you have the perfect story, package that baby up, whip up a great cover letter, and mail it off.  Of course you are going to look through the guidelines in CWIM (Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market guide) and find the perfect publisher first.  Study the current books on each publisher’s list, and while you’re at it see if any agents accept unsolicited manuscripts too. Submit your book (the whole manuscript for PBs, chapter samples for anything bigger) and then do yourself a favor–forget it exists for awhile.  That’s right–forget it. You don’t want to waste valuable energy obsessing on something that is out of your hands.  You can use that time writing something new. (Take me for instance–I’ve never obsessed on my submitted manuscripts. I’ve never ran to the mailbox, heart racing, sure this was the day.  I’ve never gorged on Almond Roca in a fit of depression over a rejection.  I’ve never waved rejection letters in my husband’s face and ranted about idiots who don’t know genius when they read it….not me.)

Now, I mentioned agents. I don’t mean open CWIM, close your eyes and point. No.  I do suggest getting an agent if you can (I sold my first book with my wonderful agent Steven Malk).  But there are good agents and there are agents who make their livings off vulnerable, insecure authors.  You’re not vulnerable or insecure, are you?  Good.  Then send your stuff to reputable agents.  By reputable I mean agents that have represented solid authors and sold titles you’ve heard of.  Will you get one of these agents?  It’s a tough business and a lot of agents don’t represent children’s authors.  So chances are slim.  But a good agent is worth his/her weight in gold.  The way I see it is, “What do you have to lose by sending your work to an agent”?  So simultaneously submit to agents and publishers.  If you hear from an agent that they want to represent you send a quick email or call the publishers you’ve submitted to to let them know.  They’ll appreciate knowing that they have to pay you more money if they do decide to buy your book.

NEXT INSTALLMENT: Laughing at yourself, living with rejection, making your first sale.