My Writing Life
I Write -- Sometimes, I Read
               November 2009

Here is my behind-the-scenes life -- my life when I am not in the classroom -- my after five life. I write! Then sometimes I read.donna-barnes-&-noble-david2

My writing group, the Write Group of Montclair sponsors Open Mics every month. Twice a year we meet at Barnes and Noble book store to read to the public. I am reading a chapter from my book in progress. It is about my husband, David, and the traumatic brain injury he suffered and survived in January 2005. donna-david-pict-2-b&nThe picture I am holding is David on Christmas morning just three weeks before his trauma.

Reading to strangers gives me a sense of well-being. They encourage me with their intent interest in the story and their  amazement at David's survival.

David comes with me to the readings. He is living proof and testament to my words.

The first draft of the book is completed. I am  working on revisions and will send it to a publisher when done.
 
So You Want to be a Writer
February 2010

Many hopeful children's book writers believe that after they finish the text of their story, they need to find an illustrator. That is a myth and probably the biggest misconception of beginning writers.

Below I offer insight that I found along the way. I hope that these suggestions will be helpful to new writers for children. And ... yes, I was  one of those beginner writers (many years ago) who thought I had to find an illustrator.

You do NOT need to find an illustrator.

Once you have completed the book in its most finished form, you may begin the search for a publisher or an agent. This is a daunting experience because publishers and agents receive hundreds, sometimes thousands of manuscripts daily, depending on the company and their size and popularity. Unfortunately they only publish a very few of those. The larger, more popular companies, may publish about thirty titles a year; while the smaller companies may publish between two and three titles.
This is where the hardest work comes in. There are several suggestions below:

#1
You need to do your research to find out which company would be the best fit for your story. To do that, you should go to the library or bookstore to find other books that are similar to yours. Then target those companies. Since you can only send your manuscript to one company at a time, and they usually take between three to six months to respond, if they respond at all, be sure to make good choices.

#2
Since the business of publishing a children's book has so many facets, you really need to do your homework. One of the best resources is the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market - the current version. Sometimes you can find this in the library, but I recommend purchasing your own copy so you can mark it up.

There is also a book called Guide to Literary Agents. I'm not sure if that is updated each year, though it should be. Unfortunately, finding an agent can be just as daunting as finding a publisher, so you have to decide which route to take. An agent usually requires between 10% to 15% of your book earnings.

#3
This is probably the best suggestion of all. Go to writer's conferences and join SCBWI . (Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators) You can join for about $70.00 a year and they provide an immense amount of information. There are also local chapters. For example: New Jersey SCBWI I think all of the states have a chapter.

#4
Joining a local children's book writer's group can also be helpful to get feedback on your writing.

#5
You can check out my website for a list of very helpful books about how to publish your children's book. My Writing Life This is actually the page you are on. Just scroll down.

Probably the best advice I can give to you is - if you believe in your book and this a dream you really want to happen, then be PERSISTENT and be PATIENT. It is just about the hardest field to break into. It can be done. Many have done it,

I hope that this information will help you.

Wishing you the best of luck.

Donna
 

Here are some of the many books in my professional library. I've separated them into categories to make it more helpful. I've read many of these books from cover to cover. Some I use as reference books. Many I have read for motivation and inspiration. They all offer helpful and interesting information about the mysterious world of publishing.

 
BOOKS ABOUT HOW to WRITE and SELL a MANUSCRIPT
 

Beginners Guide to Getting Published by Editors of Writer's Digest Books
You Can Write for Children by Tracey Dils
How To Write a Children's Book & Get It Published by Barbara Seuling
Writing for Children and Getting Published by Allan Frewin Jones & Lesley Pollinger
The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children by Nancy Lamb
How to Write and Sell Children's Picture Books by Jean E. Karl
Writing for Children & Teenagers by Lee Wyndham
Writing and Publishing Books for Children in the 1990s by Olga Litowinsky
Book Editors Talk to Writers by Judy Mandell
How To Get Happily Published by Judith Applebaum
If You Can Talk, You Can Write by Joel Saltzman
How To Be Successfully Published in Magazines by Linda Konner
Writing for Children by Catherine Woolley
How to Write & Sell Your First Novel by Oscar Collier with Frances Spatz Leighton
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books by Harold D. Underdown and Lynn Rominger
Creating Characters Kids Will Love by Elaine Marie Alphin
The Everything Get Published Book by Peter Rubie


 
BOOKS ABOUT the CRAFT of WRITING
 
Elements of Fiction Writing: Conflict, Action & Suspense by William Noble
Elements of Fiction Writing: Plot by Ansen Dibell
Writing the Novel From Plot to Print by Lawrence Block
On Writing by Stephen King
 
PHILOSOPHICAL BOOKS on WRITING
 

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Wild Mind Living the Writer's Life by Natalie Goldberg
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
Stein on Writing by Sol Stein
Women Writers at Work edited by George Plimpton
If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland
Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brand


 
BOOKS ABOUT the MECHANICS of WRITING
 

The Children's Writer's Reference by Berthe Amoss & Eric Suben
A First Thesaurus by Harriet Wittels and Joan Greisman
Punctuation Plain & Simple by Edgar C. Alward and Jean A. Alward
Putting It In Writing by Steve Otfinoski
Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary by Sue Young
Writing Handbook by Michael P. Kammer, S.J. and Charles W. Mulligan, S.J
The New Oxford Guide to Writing by Thomas S. Kane
1001 Pitfalls in English Grammar by Ruth Parle

 
 
All contents copyright (c) 2002. Donna O'Donnell Figurski.
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