sruble.cow writing

FAQ for Writers and Illustrators:

If you want to write and/or illustrate children's books ...
* Write, Draw, and Create: One thing you need to get into children's books is professional work that you can submit to an agent, editor, or art director. Let your inner five-year-old or teenager out and start working on that idea you have. You'll need a polished manuscript or portfolio to compete in this field.

* Read: Both authors and illustrators will benefit by reading books like the ones they want to create. Look at how the pictures integrate or enhance the text (this is important for writers too). At conferences, I've heard the suggestion that you should read 100 books in your genre BEFORE you start writing. Don't forget to read other types of books as well. Just because you think you're a picture book writer when you start out doesn't mean that you won't find young adult novels a better fit for your story ideas and writing voice.

* Practice, practice, practice: Just like performers that want to get to Carnegie Hall, writers and illustrators need to practice and perfect their craft. Maybe I should have said, revise, revise, revise.

* Research: Everyone expects to do research if they're writing non-fiction, but you might need to do research if you're writing fiction too. Another important area of research is the publishing industry. It will help you target your submissions to the editor, agent or art director that's the best fit for your work. It will also teach you how the industry works, so you know what to expect regarding wait times on submissions, acquisition process, whether you need/want an agent, contracts, publication, promotion, and everything else that might pop up in your journey to be published.

Reference Books For Writers and Illustrators:
* Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market (annual, published by Writer's Digest Books)

* Writing With Pictures by Uri Shulevitz

* Picture This, How Pictures Work by Molly Bang

* Illustrating Children's Books by Martin Salisbury

* How to Write and Sell Children's Picture Books by Jean Karl

* Take Joy by Jane Yolen

* It's a Bunny-Eat-Bunny World by Olga Litowinsky

* From Cover to Cover by Kathleen T. Horning

* Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life edited by Barnaby Conrad and Monte Schulz

** Choose any other writing or illustrating book that looks like it will help you or inspire you. Everyone has their favorite reference books. These are mine.

Links to know for the children's book industry:
The SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators)
The BlueBoards hosted by author Verla Kay
Editor Cheryl Klein's website and blog
Editor Harold Underdown's Purple Crayon site
The Children's Book Council
The Horn Book
Susan Salzman Raab's "To Market" column

Note: There are lots of other helpful sites and blogs, but this is a good place to start. All of these were tremendously helpful to me when I started out. I hope they'll help you too.

The slush pile and submitting:
I used to work for a publisher (Carolrhoda Books). A large part of my job was reading the slush pile. I worte down my thoughts about submitting at that time. Note: things have changed a lot in the publishing industry since I wrote those articles, but there are still good points about the slush pile for writers just starting out. Also, if self publishing continues to grow and physical bookstores continue to fold, the public will have to sort out what books to read for themselves (like a huge online slush pile). In that case, the articles still make sense, but instead of attracting an agent or editor, you're trying to attract readers. Read the slush pile articles here.

Just for fun:
A spoof on the MTV show MADE that I wrote for KidMagWriters (Jan. 2006 issue).