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Writing, Illustrating & Publishing => The Craft of Writing => Topic started by: ShirleyH on July 19, 2006, 12:08 AM

Title: Starting Out
Post by: ShirleyH on July 19, 2006, 12:08 AM
Starting out

Most of us write with the goal of publication, but it usually takes years to break in. Not everyone who starts on this journey will succeed, but if you have a passion for writing and cannot give up, you have a chance.

The basics:

1. Read a lot of children's books, especially current ones.

2. Write every day. If you can't, then write most days. The more you write the better you become. Take the time to learn how to write and grow as a writer before you start submitting. Do not write something and send it off to twenty publishers or agents and flood the slush piles. We all think our first story is wonderful and will win an award. This is seldom the case.

3. Develop a support group. Join a critique group or start your own. Have your work critiqued by other writers in the same genre. If you can attend conferences, sign up for editor or agent critiques. Your family and friends or your child’s second grade class do not count. Yes, critiques sting. Not everybody will love your baby--but listen to the advice and think about it.

4. Buy some good books on how to write. For suggestions see:
5. Make an investment in your career and be involved. Take a writing class online or through a community college. Join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. If you live in Canada, check out CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers) at and SCBWI Canada

6. Do your homework. Study the market. Study the publishers' catalogues. Study books in the library and bookstore. Purchase a copy of the Childrens Writers & Illustrators Market (CWIM) and read it.

7. Set realistic goals that don't depend upon a decision made by somebody else. For example, "get a literary agent" is not a goal you can control, but "send out 10 query letters to agents" is.

8. Target your submissions. Obtain the agent's or publisher’s guidelines and follow them.

9. Learn patience. Waiting to hear back is hard. Work on something new.

10. Develop a thick skin. Most of us receive a lot—even hundreds—of rejections. 

For more information, check out