Friday, April 26, 2013

Authors At Work: On Getting Published

Authors At Work:  On Getting Published 

Just having past and existing samples of traditionally published/ self published/ locally published work is a good way to  approach a new company if you are interested in getting "work for hire" gigs or  an in-house/ freelance job.

Having a new work to shop is how you get published.

Work on a great query letter and make sure you have a new unpublished work that may be of interest before you submit. In other words publishers/ agents/ editors  are AT WORK. A submission package is not about having them "meet" you, or learn about your interests and creative passions. Professionals  are always looking out for a fresh creative idea and point of view, and yours is best exhibited through  a  new work. PUT  a viable, publishable property in their hands to earn their interest.

It is vital to research what a publisher, interested in your genre, is look for in submissions, and in what format   they want to receive them. If they say email or snail mail only, follow their guidance. They mean it. It is usually understood, but some editors/ publishers will note on their submission guidelines: No pone calls please. Take heed. Others will say no un-angented submissions, or advise that you write "SCBWI member" on your envelope so they can spot you as someone "in the know".

Don't invest too much time in thinking maybe I will be the one in a million they will see, or give a chance. You may stand a better chance to go out and buy a lotto ticket and start a publishing house with your winnings. So really, just find out what is required. Just do the work. Every industry has its culture and its norms, with variations from company to company and among individuals. So, do your home work.

The business of publishing  is important knowledge for authors and illustrators, because the level of professionalism you exhibit is often a kind of tacit calling card. The way you present yourself may be the deciding factor, and who wants to be sitting at home wondering. It is a step in the right direction if you can know with confidence and clarity that it is the work itself that has been "rejected", and not that the package got tossed onto the "Slush Pile" because you spelt the editor's name incorrectly. In-house readers may decide that if you can't get that right you certainly couldn't be much of a writing talent.

Getting 'rejected' in the right  context, i.e. knowing you've dotted your "i"s and crossed your "t"s,  may earn you a personal comment back from the editor/ agent. This is a sign that you are on the right track in every way. Plod on. Discern whether this was not a good fit and you need to find the right place to re-submit, or whether the comments are specific to the work and offer you crucial guidance for improving it. You may even be invited to revise some aspect of your manuscript and to resubmit.

In another instance, your talent may be spotted for a current opportunity, other than what you expected e.g. "We're not publishing picture books right now, but we would love to use this rhyming text in an anthology of illustrated poems for children."

Knowing about each publisher's/ editor's preferences is vital to secure  a look at your actual work in more detail. The  networking and inside information accessible to members of professional associations like The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (www.scbwi.org) is a leg up. Annual publications like Writer's Digest market directories e.g. Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market also do much of our home work for us. These compilations of information, professional conferences and industry networks are  worth far more than their purchase/ membership prices.

Above All,
Get to work and

Happy Writing,

JJ









Saturday, April 20, 2013

On Wakeful Editing : How to bring a fresh eye to your work

(Reference: Editing Fact and Fiction, Leslie T. Sharpe 1997, Cambridge Press)

A creative writer is not "a language autocrat".

The desire to be right should never inhibit the development of voice, flow of usage, sensitivity to sound and simple common sense.

Graduates of the "I have learned a rule and will apply it" school, run the risk of "ignoring the niceties of stylistic variation and also changing the meaning of some sentences by shifting the emphasis."

Mastery of standard usage are not to be dispensed with, but unique style and original flavor arise from the kind of flexibility  that writers and editors  risk when they appreciate that language is not cast in stone and is a living, changing organism.

Above All,

Happy Writing,

JJ