This message board is for writers and illustrators of children's literature, published and pre-published, as well as editors, agents, librarians, and others who are interested in sharing information about books and stories for children of all ages, from toddlers to teens.


Because this board needs to be accessible to school system computers, there are extremely strict rules pertaining to the posts on it. Make sure you read through the FAQ and return to them frequently to refresh your memory regarding special rules for specific boards.

If you agree with these rules, we welcome you to our board. If you find our approach too limiting, we encourage you to join one of the many other online writer boards that are more in harmony with your needs and wants. It's our goal to have everyone here happy and satisfied that this is the safest, friendliest, best place on the internet to share information with other writers and illustrators of children's literature.

Please pay close attention to what I'm about to tell you, because these rules aren't many, but they are totally inflexible -- they MUST govern ALL messages posted here.  

There are a lot of new people on this board, and many more who have been here for a long time that might not be fully aware of some of the basic "rules" for using this message board.

1.  Play nice.    

There is no room on this board for people who aren't nice to each other. Before you post any message, stop and read through it one last time. Will it make someone feel bad? If so, DON'T POST IT. We discuss ISSUES here. We don't discuss the people making the posts.

2. No political talk.

There are many places on the web where you can go to discuss politics. This board is a "political-free zone" and political messages of any kind are not permitted  The only exceptions to this rule are specific issues that have a direct bearing on the business of children's books. Again, we discuss those ISSUES, but NOT the politicians and/or people behind the issues.

3.  No religious discussions.

It's okay to discuss issues that pertain to writing for religious markets, but it is NOT okay to talk about the theology behind religions, or to compare religious beliefs, etc. on this message board.

4.  No direct links to downloads.

If you want to give a download link, send people to a website page that explains what they are about to download and that has the download link on it. DO NOT LINK DIRECTLY TO DOWNLOADS from this message board. We are extremely protective of our message board members and want to protect all of you as much as possible from potential problems. Some downloads can be a problem. They can contain viruses or unacceptable viewing matter, therefore we don't allow them here.

5. No defamatory posts allowed.

It's fine to post concerns about publishers and agencies as long as the posts cannot be considered defamation of character to specific agents, agencies, editors, or publishers. In other words, you CAN SAY something like:

People!  I am upset about something that recently happened to me. I signed a book contract, but I didn't understand the fine print before I signed it!  Big, BIG mistake.  There was an option clause in it that said I have to submit my next book to them and they have until 3 months AFTER the first book is published before they have to make a decision on it -- and in the meantime, I can't submit to anyone else.  But now that first book has been delayed for six years!  So I won't be able to sell another book to anyone for at least 6 YEARS - until that first book is finally published. I'm devastated. Please folks... before you sign a contract UNDERSTAND what you are signing!

It would NOT be okay for the person making this post to say derogatory things about the publisher, such as: This is a crooked publisher, a bad publisher, etc. (This also applies to editors, agents and agencies.)  In other words, you can talk about your experience and how YOU feel, as long as you JUST STATE THE FACTS and don't say anything bad about them.  The facts will need to speak for themselves.

This is especially important in light of the results of lawsuits where some other writing-related websites have been sued and LOST in cases where negative things have been said on their sites against specific agents, agencies, editors, and/or publishers. We don't want to end up with a lawsuit for something someone said on this message board against an agent or publisher!  

Likewise, we don't denigrate authors or illustrators whose work we dislike or with whom we disagree. We can respectfully express our opinions of books, but please keep negative discussion of personalities off the board.

Another thing to realize is that it isn't okay to post a letter (or email) from someone else. It's fine to post a line here and there from the letter, but NOT the entire letter unless you have permission from the person who wrote the letter. (This is especially true of letters from Editors and Agents.) Please see this excellent post for more information on why we have this rule in place: http://www.rightsofwriters.com/2011/02/sixteen-things-writers-should-know.html?m=1


6.  No Advertising of a Business unless you have been a member in good standing for at least two years with at least 100 posts AND have gotten permission to post your message/s with one of the Administrators of this board.

NOTE: This rule does not apply to SCBWI Regional Advisors. They have a special board in the SCBWI Only area of the board where they are allowed to freely advertise their services to other SCBWI members.

This forum doesn't exist to provide free ad space--it's here for people with a serious interest in writing and illustrating children's books and literature. Nor is it Craig's List or eBay, and the Administrators can't check out each business that wants to advertise here and make sure it's legitimate.  Therefore, only people who have been members here (in good standing) for at least two years may advertise their services on this board, and only with the approval of Verla or an administrator; we also reserve the right to ask you to edit such posts.  Please note that approval will in no way be considered an endorsement of such services. We will not endorse any services offered by any members of this forum.

Advertising goods and services in the SCBWI areas is also restricted. SCBWI members may advertise if:
1. You have been either an SCBWI member or a Blueboard member for at least two years AND
2. You have made at least a hundred (100) contributory posts (i.e., posts that contribute substance to conversations, not just offer congratulations or say "me too!") AND
3. You have received permission from an Administrator.

Advertisements of any kind made by members who do not meet these criteria will be removed without notice.  Thank you for helping keep the Blueboards a supportive, informational, spam-free place!

For members who qualify: please keep your posts advertising your services short.  We prefer you post a link to your webpage rather than including all details here, and request that you PM Verla or an Administrator before posting.  On a related note...

7.  No solicitation of any kind.

The purpose of the Blueboards is for members to share information and support in their writing and illustrating careers, and not to request help, monetary or otherwise, from fellow members, no matter how good the cause.  SCBWI does not allow Kickstarter campaigns, crowdfunding or other fund solicitation, or social media vote solicitation on the message board.  Any such posts will be removed by a Moderator or Administrator without notice. On rare occasions SCBWI gives special permission for specific projects to be posted that it feels might be of benefit to Blueboarders.

8. For your own protection, only post artwork or stories on this board that you don't want to sell, or excerpts no more than about 10% of the whole work. Do not copy or reproduce anyone's artwork or stories from this board without the creator's written permission. When posting an image on the boards, whether uploading an attachment or embedding an image, please do not exceed our board size limitations of 300kb for attachments). Please limit to two images per post. NOTE: This does not apply to the SCBWI Only Manuscript and Art Exchange areas of the board as they are private areas not available to the public or search engines.

9. Do not use the board as your second blog.


Post a link to your blog and a couple of lines about the subject. The intent should be to generate a discussion about your blog topic here on the boards. If you are simply alerting others to a new post, please use the "What Did You Blog About Today" thread.

Also, please feel free to post a link to your blog, twitter, website etc in your signature, but please do not post images of any kind in your signature line (that's what an avatar is for). One small exception to this rule is the use of Blueboard smiley code. Small board smileys are permitted.

10. No compensation, of any kind, can be offered in exchange for book reviews or book blurbs.

You may invite members to review or blurb your book, but you can't offer anything in return (including free copies of your book). Not even something as innocuous as, "I promise I'll review your book too!". This is straight from the SCBWI legal department and any post that violates this rule will be deleted without notice.

11.  Do not register more than once.

When you try to register more than once, you cause a lot of unnecessary work for the administrators. If you need to post anonymously, we have an anonymous persona available to full members. Please, folks, do not register more than once! If we notice you are trying to register a second time under a different name, you will not be approved. If we find you have created a second account, you will be asked to delete one. If you want to change your screen name on the board, it can be done in your profile. Go to Profile> Account Settings and change the Name field. Ask an administrator to help you if you need to change your username.

No double posting. Please do not post the same topic twice anywhere on the board. We will merge or remove without notice. This applies to the SCBWI Only board as well. If you want to reach the entire board membership, SCBWI and non-SCBWI members, a post on the main board will reach everyone.

No Solicitation or Advertising of a Business is allowed on the Boards unless you have been a member in good standing for at least two years with at least 100 posts AND have gotten permission to post your message/s with one of the Administrators of this board.  

This forum doesn't exist to provide free ad space--it's here for people with a serious interest in writing and illustrating children's books and literature. This isn't Craig's List or eBay, and we can't check out each business that wants to advertise here and make sure it's legitimate.  Therefore, only people who have been members here (in good standing) for at least two years may advertise their services on this board, and only with the approval of Verla or an administrator; we also reserve the right to ask you to edit such posts.  Please note that approval will in no way be considered an endorsement of such services. We will not endorse any services offered by any members of this forum.

Advertising goods and services in the SCBWI areas is also restricted: the goal is to provide education and camaraderie to writers and illustrators, not free ad space.

You may advertise on the Blueboard if:
1. You have been either an SCBWI member or a Blueboard member for at least two years AND
2. You have made at least a hundred (100) contributory posts (i.e., posts that contribute substance to conversations, not just offer congratulations or say "me too!") AND
3. You have received permission from an Administrator.

Advertisements of any kind made by members who do not meet these criteria will be removed without notice.

Thank you for helping keep the Blueboards a supportive, informational, spam-free place!

For members who qualify: please keep your posts advertising your services short.  We prefer you post a link to your webpage rather than including all details here, and request that you PM Verla or an Administrator before posting.

Occasionally some of our newer members approach some of our published members with requests for critique and/or mentorship.

Here's the deal:  We are a friendly, inclusive community here at Verla's, with a place for everyone from experienced professionals to the newest of newbies, and we welcome everybody.  Our more experienced members hang out here because they want to.  They like it for the same reasons all our members do--for the camaraderie, for a bit of a break from work, for shop talk.  Our published members are willing to "pay it forward."  They know that they were once unpublished, too, and they're willing to answer questions here on the boards, and furthermore, my guess is that if you were to run into someone at a conference and offer a greeting  of "Hi, I'm so-and-so from Verla's" that it would elicit a huge smile, a hearty handshake or even a hug from these folks.

However, the truth is that the leap from "willing to answer questions on a message board" to "willing to do extensive critiquing/offer personal advice/provide mentorship" is awfully big.  If you're asking someone you don't really know for this kind of help, you're probably saying to yourself that the worst they can say is no; that there's truth to that old saying "nothing ventured, nothing gained"; that it's worth a shot.  

However, we're asking you to consider that putting an author on the spot with such a request is very likely to backfire.  At the very least, it puts the author in a situation where they have to say no, which can be awkward and stressful.  A more unpleasant consequence for all of us would be if our published authors feel pestered to the point where they decide that participation on the boards is no longer worth their time.  Then we all lose, because we've lost some of our greatest resources.

Bottom line:  If you need critique, find a writing buddy or a good critique group.  If you don't have a group or buddy yet, advertise or ask for help in our Critique Group thread.  If you need or want a professional critique, find a reputable service--there are a good number of them, and their fees are generally reasonable.  Please don't take advantage of our camaraderie here on the boards by alienating the published author members who offer so much to us all.

The response times sections are valuable resources for those optimistic writers and illustrators who are actively submitting work to editors and agents. Being the neat freaks that we are here at Verla's, we like to keep this section in ship-shop-shape. So let's review the rules.

1. In the response times section we only post information about response times. In other words, you post how long it took from the time you sent your query or submission, to the time you received a reply. Or, if after half a dozen months or so you haven't heard anything, you can post that, too. Feel free to include the type of submission (pb, query letter, etc.), the method (snail or e-mail), and the type of feedback (form, letter, revision request), and the name of the editor or agent you queried.  However, we don't really care how you feel about it . . . in the response time section. We have a lovely Good News section and a That Stinks section for those who feel the need to emote.

2. Please don't start a new thread until you are absolutely, positively, no-doubt-about-it sure that there isn't a thread on your subject. Use the search function to check for an existing thread on your topic. Another nifty board feature is to click on "Subject" at the top of the forum and the thread titles will appear in alphabetical order.

3. Does  "congratulations" fit in the "response times" category? No. Neither do the phrases "good luck" or "I'm sorry." Those are the empty beer bottles of the after-party and have no room here in this section. Don't leave a mess for me to clean up later.

4. Scorned by an agent? Burned by a publisher? Feel the need to bash someone who had the misfortune of critiquing your ms at a conference three years ago? If you really feel that bashing someone on the public board is in your best interest, try Pro Talk or Market News. Same goes for questions and comments about market information. If it isn't a response time, it doesn't belong here.

5. Response times vary by publisher, by season, by your envelope's placement in the slush pile. Response times are to be used to get a general idea of when things come and go at a given house, but please don't pepper innocent editors with status queries simply because someone else heard from them a few weeks before you did. As a general rule, don't send a status query until at least two months after the editor's stated reply time (you can usually find this information in the current market guides).

Remember, Response Times sections are like diamonds and last forever. Let's take care of our diamonds, and keep them clean.

1.  Anyone can post in the Kidlit Good News sections about their agent news, book (short story, magazine article, illustrating, etc) sales, professional journal reviews, movie/TV options, major awards, etc -- as long as you have at least five quality posts elsewhere in our community.  (This ensures that you know some people here and will have others to celebrate with as you post your exciting news.)

2.  Anyone can post in the Promotional News (book covers, book launches, contest wins, blogger reviews, finishing a draft, book giveaways, etc).  New members must have at least five quality posts before using this board. This board will be purged periodically.

3.  Anyone can post in the Other Good News (anything which doesn't fit into the other two threads, including adult writing news).  This board will be purged periodically.

4.  All book promos and giveaways go in Promotional News (and will be moved there if posted elsewhere).

5.  Please choose one place to post rather than double posting (we will delete one of the duplicate threads without notice).

6.  We're excited about your good news, and we'd love to see you celebrate with our community!

It rarely comes up, but once in a while those of us who write for adults as well as children find ourselves in need of a beta or a good critique.?  It's tempting to ask here, where we know so many wonderful readers and critiquers.?  However, SCBWI has asked that we limit the critique requests to only our kidlit material.?  This is SCBWI's area of expertise, and this is why we all gather.

If any members want to reach out to other members outside the board to find the adult writing common interests, that (of course) is fine.?  However, please limit your board posts and requests to kidlit-related critiques.

(Notice that it's still fine -- and encouraged -- for you to celebrate your adult writing good news in the All Other Good News board.)

Hi! I’ve just written a children’s book! What do I do now?

First, congratulations! Good for you for having the passion and drive to create...and create something for the most important people on earth—kids.

Now that you’ve written it, what should you do with it?

If you just want to be able to share it with family and friends, there are services like Lulu.com and others that will print your book for you—perfect for sharing it with a small circle. But if you want to seek out a larger audience, it gets a lot more complicated.

Before you start, understand that being a children's book author or illustrator is not going to make you rich and famous overnight...or perhaps ever.  This thread might prove illuminating: http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=75813.0

Publishing is an industry, just like fashion or insurance or medicine.  It’s not something you do on a whim, or for the heck of it; like any other industry, there’s a lot to learn before you can be a participant, even on a small basis. You wouldn’t, say, open a clothing store in your town before you’d thoroughly researched everything about it: the potential clientele, earnings  projections, what fashions sell best in your area, store locations...well, on and on. The same is true for publishing. Here’s a link you might find helpful to start you on your way: http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=13763.0  SCBWI members might want to read this thread as you think about dipping your toes in the publishing pool: http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=75233.0

The first step is to make sure you know what kind of book you’ve written.  Children’s publishing can be broadly divided into a few main areas: picture books, chapter books, middle grade books, and young adult books. Each has its own definition and expectations. Here are a few links to help you figure out what you’ve written:
Picture Books:
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=20068.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=27480.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=65586.0

Chapter books:
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=14753.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=44342.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=74378.0

Middle grade:
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=60698.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=65598.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=74314.0

YA:
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=52216.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=46387.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=45756.0

The next step is to make sure your book is of publishable quality. Most authors and illustrators of published books spend years learning their craft. They take classes, go to conferences, join critique groups or find critique partners to exchange manuscripts with. Here are a few links discussing that:

http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=73217.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=54688.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=73158.0

As you might have already guessed, the Blueboard has a wealth of information about writing, illustrating, and publishing books for kids. Perhaps the best thing you can do if you’re serious about writing or illustrating for children is take time to just wander around and read different topics that catch your eye, or use the search engine to find information on specific topics.  Here are a few pointers on using Search:  http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=17010.0


Okay, got it—making my book the best it can be comes first.  But what’s next after that? How do I get my book out into bookstores, libraries, and schools?

For now, the best way to have your book reach the largest possible audience is to try to find a commercial publisher. Commercial publishers—companies like HarperCollins and Scholastic--pay authors and illustrators for the right to publish their books. They will:

- do further editing to make a story as good and as salable as possible (don’t forget, they’re in business to earn money); this includes content editing, copy/line editing, and proofreading.
- typeset and format the pages
- create a cover (and find an illustrator if it's a picture book)
- print the book
- prepare an ebook version if electronic rights are part of the contract
- send out advance copies to professional review journals, select bloggers, and other "pre-buzz" generators
- use their sales force to get your book into the hands of distributors and ultimately, your hometown bookstore

It’s very, very hard to sell a book to a commercial publisher—they only take what they think is the best of the best. Although some publishers will consider direct submissions from authors and illustrators, most prefer to have work submitted to them by literary agents.

A literary agent is a professional who not only sells books to publishers via their carefully fostered connections with editors at publishing houses (it’s their job to know what editors are looking for which kinds of books) but help their clients with all aspects of their writing or illustrating careers.  Not every agent represents every kind of book, just as not every publisher publishes every kind of book. You will need to do a great deal of research on which agents represent which kinds of books and what their individual interests are.  Once you’ve done that (most of which can be done on-line), then you craft a query letter, which briefly describes your work.

This is not a speedy process.  It takes time first to do your research so that you can best target your submissions...and then it takes time for agents to read their submissions, request manuscripts, read them, and decide if they want to represent your work.  Then they’ll often ask you for revisions that they think will improve your work...and then they submit your work to publishers they think would be a good match...and then you’ll wait some more, and quite likely the news won’t be positive. If it is, then there’s more waiting—a YA novel usually takes 18 months to 2 years from the date it’s sold to the day it’s released.  If you want to be a writer or an illustrator, you have to cultivate patience...a lot of patience  The good news is that while you wait, you can be working on your next story and improving your skills.

Here are a few links on the process:

http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=5589.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=74790.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=30982.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=53529.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=75088.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=53314.0


I don't think I want to go that route. What else can I do?


Once upon a time, the above was the only way to go. Now, though, there are more options that can be considered, including self-publishing and subsidy or vanity publishing.

Self-publishing means that you are not only the author, but the publisher of your book. It means that you take care of (or hire someone else to do) everything involved in the publication of your book--having it edited, formatted, a cover created, uploading to online distributors for an e-book version, formatting a print version/working with a print vendor, and marketing. It can be a lot of work, but some authors prefer this route: they like having complete creative control of all aspects of their book. Here are a few links that might be of interest:

http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=56848.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=67378.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=70727.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=72239.0

Subsidy or Vanity publishing means that you pay a company to perform all of the publishing steps outlined above. Sometimes you choose from among several "packages" that include certain levels of service for set prices. It differs from commercial or self-publishing in that the publisher's target market is not the reading public. The vanity press's target market is authors who want to get a book in print, and they make their money from aspiring authors, not from readers. Therefore, they do not have a vested interest in whether your book sells. They will usually accept the work of any author who is willing to pay for their services, regardless of the manuscript's quality. The quality of their services and your finished book can also range from good to poor or nonexistent, so before deciding to work with such a company it's extremely important to look at books they have put out so that you know what you are getting. Here are some relevant threads:

http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=67529.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=74754.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=73413.0
http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=66027.0