Tag Archives: submissions

Rules Beginning Writers Should Never Break

We often talk about the “rules” of writing for kids citing proper page lengths and

story types for different age groups. A better term would probably be “guidelines”;

these rules exist only to tell you what, in general, editors like to see in the

manuscripts sent to them. And, of course, for every rule there are numerous

exceptions. But while we’d all like to think our book is strong enough to override the

guidelines, this is usually not the case. Here are some rules that shouldn’t be broken

until you a best-selling author:

 

Write Within Designated Word Lengths

No editor is going to turn down a terrific book just because the text length falls

outside the average guidelines. If your young adult novel is complete in 100 pages,

there’s no sense padding the manuscript simply because most YAs are longer. But

length guidelines are there for a reason — publishers have determined about how

much text kids of different ages can read, and so it behooves you to try to stay as

close to those guidelines as possible.

 

Don’t Provide Testimonials in Queries

It’s nice to have lots of neighborhood kids read your manuscript and give you

positive feedback, but your potential editor doesn’t want to hear about it. Frankly,

editors don’t give much credence to testimonials from readers who may be family or

friends of the author. Also, don’t clutter up the query letter with ideas for why

children need your book or what they’ll learn from it. This is up to the editor to

decide. (One exception: You’ve written a nonfiction book and can show that there

aren’t any other books in print that cover the same subject.)

 

Keep your query letter tight, brief, and to the point. Provide an intriguing plot

synopsis or nonfiction outline, relevant information about yourself, and enclose a

self-addressed, stamped envelope. Sell your book, not your reasons for writing it.

 

Don’t Write a Series Before Selling the First Book

I’ve critiqued many manuscripts from authors who say, “I’ve got six more books

written with these characters. Should I mention that to the editor when I submit my

manuscript?” My answer is always no. Unless an editor is specifically looking for new

series proposals, and the books were written from the start to form a series, this is a

bad idea. Realize that series are created as a group of books that are bound

together by some sort of hook; in fiction, it might be a club the main characters

form, a neighborhood they all live in, or a cause they champion. In nonfiction, it’s a

topic (natural sciences, biographies) and an age group. Rarely do you see picture

book fiction series. What does happen is a character may become very popular with

readers and the author is asked to write another book featuring the same cast.

These fiction “series” actually grow slowly one book at a time.

 

So, unless you’ve conceived your books as a traditional series and are able to

send a thought-out series proposal to the editor, stick to selling one book. When an

editor sees you have numerous manuscripts featuring the same characters and

similar plots, she may feel that you’ve spent too much writing new material and not

enough time revising what you’ve already got. And remember, each book — series or

not — must stand on its own. It needs a strong beginning, well-developed middle,

and satisfying end. No fair leaving the ending unfinished with the intention of

continuing the story in the next book.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized, writing

VOLUNTEER READERS NEEDED

Saguaro Books, LLC

Be the first to read and edit new middle grade and young adult fiction by emerging authors. Low pressure—read and react. Ideal for individuals still in college or at home with children or family, looking to add experience within the industry to their resume. Also perfect for new or emerging writers looking to learn about the industry.

Please indicate your strengths and background: Must be able to use MSWord with the ‘Track Changes” and “Comment” features. BA/BS in English or Creative Writing a BIG plus. If you have published books or magazine articles, that is also a plus. Visit www.saguarobooks.com

Contact: Ms. Mary Nickum, CEO, mjnickum@saguarobooks.com

Leave a comment

Filed under editing, publishing, writing

VOLUNTEER READERS NEEDED

Saguaro Books, LLC

Low pressure—read and react. Ideal for individuals still in college or at home with children or family, looking to add experience within the industry to their resume. Also perfect for new or emerging writers looking to learn about the industry. Please indicate your strengths and background: BA/BS in English or Creative Writing a BIG plus.

Visit www.saguarobooks.com

Contact: Ms. Mary Nickum, CEO, mjnickum@saguarobooks.com

Leave a comment

Filed under editing, publishing, Uncategorized, writing

The Exclamation Mark

The exclamation mark (!) is used in place of a period to add emphasis. The exclamation mark is used to express surprise, disbelief or extreme emotion and can turn a statement into a powerful one. It is used to grab your attention, and is used primarily in dialogue text to indicate excitement or astonishment. (“No!” he yelled. “I want it now!”)

The exclamation mark is used in place of a question mark to end a rhetorical question when no answer is expected. (“Isn’t she adorable!”)

The exclamation mark can be used following a single word to express intense feeling.

(Congratulations!) When using the word “oh,” an exclamation mark can be used to follow the word to add emphasis. (“Oh!  I didn’t see that!”)

The exclamation mark is used with words that describe sounds. (All day long the dog’s woof! could be heard in her garage.)

To add extra emphasis, a non-standard punctuation mark called an interrobang (^), which was created in the 1960s, merges the question mark with the exclamation mark. This punctuation mark was first used in publishing and advertising firms, and was not readily available on a typewriter. Therefore, it did not become a standard punctuation mark. Microsoft has it available in their Wingdings 2 set of fonts.  In some publications, you will see a question mark followed by an exclamation mark. (“Can you believe what he’s done?!”)

Many publishers do not use the exclamation mark at all, claiming strong writing will make it unnecessary and down-right distracting.

Leave a comment

Filed under editing, publishing, Uncategorized, writing

Revision Tips for Writers

  1. Revise big stuff first, make small edits later. This doesn’t mean you should not correct obvious typos and grammar errors as you notice them. However, you shouldn’t be actively tinkering with word choice until after you’ve nailed down the structure of your piece.
  2. Put the manuscript down and walk away. Writers need at least a little distance from their manuscripts before jumping into revision.
  3. Scan the whole manuscript without reading. Scanning can make big problems more obvious than a writer might not notice when reading closely.
  4. Read carefully. Take your time and read every word. Then, read it out loud. This will help you catch obvious errors and check for smoothness or the “flow.”
  5.  Look for ways to be more concise with your language. Can you turn a 15-word sentence into an 8-word sentence? Can you turn an 8-sentence paragraph into a 5-sentence paragraph? Less almost always means more for the reader.
  6. Use active voice over passive voice. There may be occasions for using passive voice, but for the most part be active.
  7. Vary sentence structure. Even if it’s grammatically correct, using the same pattern over and over again will make your manuscript boring. Don’t feel like you have to be creative with every sentence; just check that you’re not falling into a monotonous pattern.
  8. Save each round of revisions as its own file. Saving these files provides a record of your changes and shows your development of the story.
  9. Have someone read the manuscript. The more eyes the better, because they’ll be more objective when reading. It is always best to ask someone other than a relative, who naturally will be biased.
  10. Print the manuscript for a final edit. There are things you’ll catch on paper that you won’t on the screen.

Leave a comment

Filed under editing, publishing, Uncategorized, writing

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Submission Guidelines*
The Path

The Path to Publication Group publishes the literary publication – The Path. You are invited to submit short stories, essays, book reviews and poems for inclusion in the semi-annual issues.
The theme for Volume 6 No. 1 is ‘Good Vibrations’. For more information, please visit the websites: www.pathtopublication.net and www.thepathmagazine.com . Past contributors will receive a call for submissions by e-mail, automatically.
1) Short stories and essays – 2500 to 7000 words
2) Poetry – 1 page (No theme requirement)

Please polish your manuscripts to the best of your ability and, of course, have someone else edit your work before sending to Path to Publication. Do not format your work: no page numbers, no headers or footers, no footnotes, no paragraph indentations (skip a line for paragraph spacing). Manuscripts must be submitted in Microsoft Word or RTF form. Font: Times New Roman – size 12. All submissions must be submitted electronically, as e-mail attachments, to: mjnickum@thepathmagazine.com

Deadline for Issue #11 is May 31, 2016

All rights are retained by the author and there will be no compensation for accepted work at this time*.

*Because we are staffed by volunteers, we can only compensate our writers in exposure to our audience. Our columnists enjoy great publicity for their own blogs, books, websites, and projects. Many find great reward in doing something good for the world of literature and literacy.

You may also purchase add space to further promote your work.

Leave a comment

Filed under editing, publishing, Uncategorized, writing

Query or synopsis–or both?

In a query, should the synopsis tell the whole story in a short form or should it leave mystery to the story like on the back of the book?

Queries and synopses are different things. A query should never include a synopsis.

A query is a one-page letter that explains what you’ve written, who you are, and why the agent or publisher should consider your work. A query letter will contain a pitch, which is an explanation of your story in 3-8 sentences. It’s like the text you see on the back of a DVD box. It’s designed to pique your interest. A pitch, like the back of a book or DVD, will not spill the beans regarding the ending.

A synopsis is a front-to-back telling of what happens in your story. It’s like sitting down with a 12-year-old and explaining your entire story in about five minutes. You explain who the characters are, what the conflict is, the three acts and, finally, what happens at the end (e.g., the villain dies). So, in a synopsis, you do indeed give away the ending. You would not do so in a pitch, and a pitch is what appears in a query. A publisher will probably ask for a synopsis IF your query has grabbed their attention.

Remember: First the query then and only then, IF REQUESTED, the synopsis.

1 Comment

Filed under publishing, Uncategorized, writing