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Writing for Children: How to Write a Children's Book, Writing for Magazines, Getting Paid for Writing, Getting Published

Do you want to learn how to write a children's book? Make money writing for children's magazines? Every Friday the Writing for Children podcast publishes from The Institute of Children's Literature. Since 1969, ICL has taught over 470,205 aspiring writers. Listen to the director of both The Institute for Writers and The Institute of Children's Literature and bestselling children's author Katie Davis host the show as she focuses on the craft of writing for children. She talks about how to write a children’s book, how to write for children’s magazines, how to get paid for your writing, and how to get published in the world of kidlit. There are listener questions, with answers from the experts at the Institute, plus hard-to-find resources, tips, and links included in every week's show notes.
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Now displaying: October, 2016
Oct 28, 2016

QUERY LETTERS
Many of the more prestigious children’s magazines (and most of the YA magazines) prefer writers query instead of sending finished manuscripts. Most book publishers and agents require queries as well. Queries help (slightly) in keeping slush piles thin, and makes the editor’s job easier in some ways and more taxing in others. Queries mean editors are responding to your idea, your professionalism, your qualifications, and your scholarship instead of your finished product.

For many writers, queries are terrifying. We know we can write, but can we pitch? And a query is a kind of pitch. You are persuading an editor that your product will be superior, but you must do so with something other than your product.

Your query must convince the editor:

* you are qualified to write the story/article/book,
* you have the skills to write the story/article/book,
* the story/article/book will fit well in that specific magazine, specific publisher, or specific agent because you understand the desired style, tone, and the specific * * needs of that magazine, publisher, agent,
* the finished story/article/book is/will be special.
* the finished nonfiction will be accurate.

The queries that tend to grab interest quickly often have a few things in common.

To find out how to increase your chances of getting your pitch picked up, listen to the full episode.

Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/023

 

Don’t forget to leave your questions!

The faculty of the Institute of Children’s Literature answers the podcast questions. You can leave your question at http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak. If it’s featured on the show, you’ll receive an awesome embroidered ICL all cotton baseball cap

What’s Working in Your Manuscript, What’s Not, and How to Fix It:
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Oct 21, 2016

POETRY FOR THE VERY YOUNG

Poetry for very young children has a lot in common with poetry for older readers. It’s built word by word, as poetry has no room for extraneous words. It sounds good to the ear. It gives the reader a different way to look at the world by drawing attention very closely to something. Still, when writing for the very young, some things must be kept in mind.

Generally speaking, the younger your audience, the more concrete your poetry must be. Young children have such a limited range of experience that they cannot make connections between the sun and a golden disk because they have no point of reference for "a golden disk." When dealing with young toddlers, they have difficulty grasping comparisons at all. To a toddler, dogs are so much like cats, that if you compare them, the child may have difficulty understanding that they are really different things at all.

BABYBUG is probably the magazine geared toward the youngest of all children. Poetry in BABYBUG may contain play on sounds, but they won't use much (if any) simile. The poems for this magazine are often 10 words or so. They will focus on very common experience: seeing a dog while on an outing with mom, watching water run in a tub, discovering that both balls and trucks roll. The poetry reinforces common experience, helping children discover their world. When the poem goes outside common experience, such as a poem about a bear cub snuggling with his mother, the poem stretches his boundaries slightly, but not too far since the poem will still deal with baby friendly ideas like snuggling with mom, snow is cold, night is for sleeping.

For more tips on writing poetry for children and suggestions on what magazines to submit your poems to listen to the full episode.

Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/022

 

Don’t forget to leave your questions!

The faculty of the Institute of Children’s Literature answers the podcast questions. You can leave your question at http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak. If it’s featured on the show, you’ll receive an awesome embroidered ICL all cotton baseball cap

What’s Working in Your Manuscript, What’s Not, and How to Fix It:
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

Oct 14, 2016

FEELING MYSTERIOUS?

Mysteries are one of the most popular genre in literature. In books, there are even thriving sub-genre, like cozies, hard-boiled detectives, and police procedurals, that have countless fans. Magazines like Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine have been feeding the adult reader’s need for short mystery fiction for generations. But what about kids? Do children’s magazines still want mysteries or is this the land of books only?

Many children’s magazines will accept mysteries. Many editors say they would love to get more good mysteries. So what makes a story good?

* A fresh idea with a clever puzzle.
* Strong characters.
* Lively, real dialogue.

In other words, the same stuff editors want in any story. So why aren’t they getting these things in mysteries? Well, mysteries can be kind of tricky. First, you really need to plan a mystery before you start writing it. This flies in the face of the writing style of many (especially many newer writers). So they come up with a possible problem (who took the teacher’s special fountain pen?) and they know who the main character will be so they jump in and start writing. But, when the writer doesn’t know who took the pen, often the result is (1) a solution that doesn’t flow logically from the clues, (2) a solution that flows too logically, making it not a puzzle at all since everyone knew who the villain was well before your ‘detective,’ or (3) a solution that falls back on old clichés (more on these in a minute.)

How do you plan your mystery? Listen to the full episode to find out!

Read more in our show notes: http://writingforchildren.com/021

 

Don’t forget to leave your questions!

The faculty of the Institute of Children’s Literature answers the podcast questions. You can leave your question at http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak. If it’s featured on the show, you’ll receive an awesome embroidered ICL all cotton baseball cap

What’s Working in Your Manuscript, What’s Not, and How to Fix It:
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

 

Oct 7, 2016

FIVE TIPS TO A GREAT MAIN CHARACTER

What makes a memorable main character? Well, for a character to carry a series of books, you’ll need to make the person memorable. Although the “every kid” type will offer instant ability for readers to connect, it won’t be enough––the character needs specific, unique traits or abilities to linger in the mind of the reader. The unique trait might be learning disability (Joey Pigza in the Joey Pigza series by Jack Gantos has ADD) or unusual ability (Cam Janson has a photographic memory) or speech patterns (Junie B. Jones speaks like a real kindergartener, which makes some people nuts, but she does sound like a five-year-old) ––but the character needs something to stand out from the pack.

1. Make the main character matter emotionally.

That doesn’t mean the MC must be a paragon of virtue (in fact, no one like’s perfect people since they don’t read “real” and they’re kind of obnoxious), but you must give the character something we can connect with so that their fate matters to us. It’s the weakness in a character (and the character’s voice) that makes him/her linger in our minds.

For four more tips creating a great main character, listen to this episode of Writing for Children.

Find out how to be a good partner for your illustrator by listening to this episode!

Read more in our show notes plus get a handy guide on word count in today's children's publishing market at http://writingforchildren.com/020

 

Don’t forget to leave your questions!

The faculty of the Institute of Children’s Literature answers the podcast questions. You can leave your question at http://www.writingforchildren.com/speak. If it’s featured on the show, you’ll receive an awesome embroidered ICL all cotton baseball cap

What’s Working in Your Manuscript, What’s Not, and How to Fix It:
Go to https://www.instituteforwriters.com/critique-service/

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