Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need an editor if I just want to write for children?
Very few of us are able to see the mistakes and flaws in our own writing. We are just too close to our creations. Having a fresh set eyes look over our work is a very important step to take, and having your work edited and proofread is essential when you are preparing a manuscript. Editing and proofreading are special skills. Authors I know who have had dozens of their books published send their manuscripts to colleagues for comments and suggestions. Of course, friends and family are always willing to look over our books, but more often than not they tell us what they think we want to hear, rather than telling us what we need to hear. They don’t want to hurt our feelings or discourage us. This is very kind of course, but it does not help us to improve our writing. In addition, friends and family members might not know how to craft a children’s book.
I have found a writing critique group in my town. Why can’t the members of this writing critique group help me fix my manuscript?
They can if they know about the unique world of children’s book publishing. If you are lucky, you will find a group of people who know how to craft a children’s book, and who can help you make necessary changes. Unfortunately, critique groups that are full of people who know how to write and prepare a book for publishing are not that easy to find. Do the members know what children’s book publishers are buying? Will they tell you honestly what editing needs to be done, even if it hurts your feelings? Can give you a thorough story evaluation or manuscript assessment and guide you through the manuscript submission process?
I have been helping writers with their manuscript preparation for ten years now, and I know how to help people who want to write a children’s book. I will tell you honestly what needs to be done to prepare your manuscript, and most important of all, I will tell you how to adjust your writing to make it more appealing to children’s book publishers.
What is ghostwriting?
Every so often, someone writes to me telling me that they have a children’s story idea that they have been thinking about for a long time. They want the story to be written, but they don’t really want to write the story themselves. They need more than help writing a children’s book. I discuss the story with them and then write the story for them. They have the added benefit of my writing skills with their story idea. Though I wrote the tale, the idea is theirs, and they put their name on the book written for children.
What does an evaluation include?
With an editor’s trained eye, I evaluate your story, looking at the plot, plot development, character development, and more. Please see the Services page for more information.
What if I write a children’s story and it needs major revisions? What can you do to help me?
I can either walk you through the revision process, or I can rewrite the story for you so that it contains all the elements needed to make a children’s book successful. Contact me at 541.552.0753 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Do I need to hire a children’s book illustrator to create the art for my picture book?
If you plan on submitting your story to a children’s book publisher, then you do not need to submit art. In fact, children’s book publishers like to choose their own illustrators. If you want to self publish in print or in e-book form, then you will need to find an illustrator for your picture book.
I want to self publish my book written for children. How do I find a children’s book illustrator?
There are many places to look for a children’s book illustrator on the Internet. I have done quite a bit of research in this area for writers and would be happy to help you find an illustrator who will create art that will complement your story.
I want to self publish my picture book and I have no idea how to arrange the art to go with the text. Can you help me?
I have done the art direction for several picture books, and I can help you and your children’s book illustrator to create a book dummy (a mock up of the layout) and to pace your book in the best possible way. I can also help with the cover design.
Can you help me find a publisher for my children’s book?
I am not an agent (someone who sells books to publishing houses.) However, I will do my best to help you find an agent or children’s book publisher who might be a good fit for your children’s book. I cannot promise that they will accept your manuscript. Getting accepted by an agent or a publisher is very hard to do. I will support you in this journey so that you don’t have to stumble around in the dark.
I need to write a query letter and a synopsis for publishers and agents. Can you help me with these?
Yes I can. I will help you to create a query letter that best represents you and your story. I can also help you write a synopsis, if one is needed.
I have a lot of questions and ideas. Can I talk to you on the phone about these?
I would be happy to consult with you about your ideas for children’s books and answer your questions concerning the process of writing and publishing children’s books. That is what I am here for. Contact me at 541.552.0753 or email@example.com
I have a story idea but I am not sure what genre of children’s literature it fits into. Can you help me?
Generally speaking there are seven genres in children’s literature:
Board books — for babies and toddlers. These include concept books, which are titles that explore shapes, numbers, colors and the like.
Picture books — for children who cannot read on their own, and for children (and adults) who love the picture book format.
Beginner readers — for children who are learning to read
Chapter books — for children who can read simple stories on their own
Mid grade fiction — for children who can read longer and more complex stories
Young adult fiction — for teens.
Non-fiction — for children of all ages. Some nonfiction is written for the very young, while other titles are clearly meant for teens.
If you are unsure which of the seven genres of children’s literature your book belongs in, let me know and I will help you figure it out. Contact me at 541.552.0753 or firstname.lastname@example.org
There is so much to learn before I even begin! How do I get started writing my book?
As I am sure many of you have already discovered, understanding the world of children’s book publishing is not easy. There are so many sources of information out there, so many books to read, so many organizations to join. Where should you begin when you want to write books for children?
First of all, I suggest that you join SCBWI — Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators— the only truly international organization that was created specifically to help authors who write for children, and illustrators of children’s books. Even if you are an unpublished children’s book writer, you can join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. The membership fee is modest, and if you join, you will receive several useful guides and directories, and a newsletter that is packed with information. You will also get access to the SCBWI website. Many towns and cities around the world have their own SCBWI chapters, which you can also join. Visit the SCBWI website for more information.
I went to an SCBWI conference a few years ago and children’s book author Linda Sue Park gave a speech about her books written for children and her writing process. She ended by saying that the best way to understand how to tell a good story is to read and read and read children’s books. Read as many children’s books as you can. Choose titles that have won awards or that are highly recommended. Take notes as you read and ask yourself, “what makes this children’s book work?” I would be more than happy to create a reading list for you depending on your interests and preferred genre of books written for children.
Publisher’s Weekly and School Library Journal sends out email newsletters about children’s book publishing that are very useful. Sign up for these and read them regularly.
There are some great books out there that can help you on your book writing journey. I can recommend several titles that will help you write for children. Please check out our Resources page for more information
Several colleges, online organizations, and individual coaches provide classes that can be very useful in helping you write a book. Again, I can make some suggestions if you want to take classes that are specifically created with the children’s book author in mind.
“Our family is writing a short children’s book about courage, family members helping each other, and never giving up on life challenges. It is a wonderful family project, and my hope is that my niece and nephew will learn how to write and publish a book at an early age. In addition they will learn to respect literature, and will appreciate what it takes to write a successful piece. I contacted Marya very recently and explained our book writing project to her. She made it so easy and completely enjoyable to make the first professional edits to our book. Marya’s editing feedback is incredibly detailed and useful, while being broad-based enough for us to envision what our finished book might look like. I wouldn’t want to tackle a project like this again without Marya’s feedback and involvement. I look forward to working with Marya on my writing projects for many years to come.” —Todd Eggers, Minnesota USA