Saturday, January 23, 2010

When to Start Submitting? The Argument for Waiting Until You Have the Very Best Work to Submit

An unpublished writer's greatest fear is not getting published. But not many people think ahead beyond getting their name in print. If all you want is to have one book out there, that works. but if you want a career, you have to think ahead.

I'm not scared of not getting published. What terrifies me is getting published and having average sales, because then rather than being an unknown, "take a chance on me" (thank you ABBA) writer, you are a known quantity in children's publishing - the dreaded mid-list author with average sales. And that appears to be an even tougher sell. Yes, if your first book is your best book, and it is amazing and it sells, then you have the pressure of the sophomore book, and keeping up with or topping your previous book. But even best seller pros deal with that (witness Dan Brown's latest book in 2009, and the hype and criticism around any of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight sequels), and I'd rather have the opportunity to stress and panic and sweat over a sequel or a second title than no opportunity at all, which is what sometimes happens to mid-listers with average sales.

So, I obsess over what work I'd want to have published first, because it will be THE make it or break it book. A colleague recently told me that I should just get something out there to get submitting, but I hope to get practice with more rejection and submitting by doing less make-or-break pieces in magazines, etc., all the while working on my WIPS to figure which is best and has the best chance of being sold and bought. You only get one chance to be a debut author- what work will you put forward?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Editors and Agents Galore

Registration is open for the SCBWI Western Washington Spring Conference 2010, and it is full of seasoned pros to learn from! Check it out: Jordan Brown, Lisa Graff, Elizabeth Law, Lynne Polvino, Michael Bourret, Sara Crowe, Edward Necarsulmer IV and Paul Rodeen.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Work for Hire, or How to Get Work in Children's Books Quicker

A fellow member of ASWAAGS (critique group for writers in the children's market) was recently awarded his first work for hire contract for a non-fiction book aimed at kids. We were all thrilled and hounded the poor guy as we all waited on pins and needles after he submitted his audition piece, until the editor finally gave him a green light saying he was their choice. You go, Hollywood!! "Hollywood", by the way, is his critique group call sign. WHAT?!! You don't have a call sign? Go to your critique group and demand one! Bonus points if you get a name including the words "Mega", "Mondo", or "Gigantor" combined with any part of the body. No, not that one, or those either- we are, after all, writing for the children's market.

So, back to my point. Everyone says that you have a better chance to get something going in the children's market if you do non-fiction, or something for a packager. And now we have seen first hand that "they" are right.

Work for hire can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. Good in that you get published, it happens relatively quickly, you get paid relatively quickly (and well), and there is less competition than traditional fiction routes. Bad in that everything happens quicker. You have to produce material quickly for tight deadlines (Hi, It's Saturday and I'm informing you that you got the contract, and we need the twelve chapters outlined by Tuesday morning!), and the packager or publisher usually holds the copyright. Good in that it pays decently and may lead to more paid work in the future. Bad in that you may not even get your name on the book, and it takes time away from your own projects. Good in that if you position it right, you may get more material in print to support your writing platform. Did I mention that it usually pays pretty well? Oh yeah, and the PAY is good. No more writing for free.

The best thing about a writer pal getting a contract is that you can see the process up close. I was so inspired that I went and immediately updated my writing resume and started searching for markets. It may be a great match for you, depending on your goals. Just imagine- you could change your critique group call sign to "Giganto-arm" from lifting all those hefty paychecks...