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Rising above the Slush

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Personally, I think that in the long run, you've got to do both--write what you want to write, taking the market into account. Once you know what you most want to write, what you do care about, then you can safely add some knowledge of the market. But if you start out by trying to write for the market, well, you might never find out where your strengths and passions are.

Good point. Skill and experience-wise, I think I fall somewhere in between, which might explain why I feel the pull both ways. It also covers why I let myself write about a subject that was already so well published.  :)
#91 - October 03, 2007, 05:45 AM

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One place to start would be to go and read all the other books on your subject for children (yep, PBs, MG, and YA). Know what's already been covered and how. Then go back to your story and see if you can't find a new way to tell it that's unique and makes it jump out of the pack.

Although I did read a fair amount before I began, but I will go back to hit the books some more and see what I come up with. Thanks!
#92 - October 03, 2007, 05:55 AM

Pickles

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Elaine, you already have gotten some good answers. I have nothing else to add really. Except when I get a manuscript on a much done subject...I suggest to the author that they read the other books and come up with another angle. It also helps to include that info in a cover.

Sruble, I don't think I've seen any WWII manuscripts. Since BTP is located in the middle of the country, we attract more pioneer stories here, as Texas and surrounding states are rich with these kinds of stories.

I don't think you should NOT write something because it's been done a lot...but I think you must realize that could be a handicap, and you need to make sure your book can still hold up in the market against the others.


#93 - October 03, 2007, 06:10 AM

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Mussel Bound,

I couldn't say it any better than Laura. I'll just add that they ran from about 1850-1920 removing thousands of kids from the streets of NYC, Boston, and Chicago. Some of the early kids actually made up part of the Pony Express. Much of the poverty and homelessness in the cities was caused by the Industrial Revolution and too much immigration--too few jobs, too many people. NYC had orphanages chuck full of kids and places like the New York Foundling Hospital existed for mother to drop off infants for adoption. Hardly any of the "orphans" were true orphans. Most had at least one living parent.

It's an amazing group of people. I read so many stories--from children and from the parents that had to give them up--and I tried to honor those stories by having bits and pieces of what I read appear in my book.



#94 - October 03, 2007, 06:23 AM

Mussel Bound

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Thanks, Laura and Elaine.  They actually sound fascinating; I need to go look up a few.  From what you all say in here, the market must be saturated, so it shouldn't be tough to find one.

#95 - October 04, 2007, 12:49 PM

Write2write

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I"m sorry, I can't get past the dancing pickle!   :dr
#96 - October 04, 2007, 04:48 PM

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Lill,

Thanks for the suggestion. Of course, I thought I had made it different  ;), but I appreciate what you're saying and I'll make every effort to look harder. Perhaps, since I used bits and pieces from real stories, I can use that angle and include biographical info? I don't know. I did take liberties with the specific people's stories. It's not straight non-fiction.

For the record, I really haven't been approaching too many houses with this story--mostly agents. I had subbed to one house and then had a second house contact me through my website, but that's all. I've been wondering if this is the sort of book that I might be better off subbing directly to houses.



#97 - October 05, 2007, 10:17 AM
« Last Edit: October 05, 2007, 10:20 AM by Elaine (aka sweetpea) »

maddog

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Hi All,

I recently attended a retreat and there was a great talk by a PB editor along with a free pass to send a MS.  I do have a few questions for you so my sub (when it's ready) will rise above the slush.

1) The story is set in a specific location over a year's time.  Would it be appropriate to send stock photos to give the editor an idea of what the area looks like?  Because unless you've visited, you'd have no idea.  To be more specific, it's an alpine meadow (not to be confused with a boring meadow ;))

2) Each page adds a character.  I envision seeing a hint of the character coming (and going in the last half of the story).  IE, when the deer are coming, you might see their noses from behind a bush.  It would make the book a bit of a search and find.  Do I use illustration notes to explain this or leave it to the editor?

Any advice or input would be great.   :)
#98 - October 20, 2007, 03:06 PM

goadingthepen

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Just thought I would give this post a bump since BTP is open for submissions right now. :duh:
#99 - November 02, 2007, 05:45 AM

Mistress of Mayhem
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1) The story is set in a specific location over a year's time.  Would it be appropriate to send stock photos to give the editor an idea of what the area looks like?  Because unless you've visited, you'd have no idea.  To be more specific, it's an alpine meadow (not to be confused with a boring meadow ;))
If it's a specific thing that the editor might not know, one or two stock photos would be ok, as long as you make it clear that they are not illustrations for the book, but reference photos for the editor in case he/she hasn't ever seen an alpine meadow.

2) Each page adds a character.  I envision seeing a hint of the character coming (and going in the last half of the story).  IE, when the deer are coming, you might see their noses from behind a bush.  It would make the book a bit of a search and find.  Do I use illustration notes to explain this or leave it to the editor?
If the characters are introduced in the text, you probably don't need a note. This is the kind of thing that the illustrator can bring to the book to add an extra layer to the text. An illustrator might come up with the idea similar to yours, or something different that you hadn't thought of that works too.

Good luck with your submission!!!
#100 - November 02, 2007, 05:57 AM
Site - http://sruble.com
Twitter - http://twitter.com/StephanieRuble

picture book: EWE AND AYE (Disney-Hyperion)

maddog

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Thanks!  I'm letting it rest right now.  Since I don't have any other MS's that I think they'd be interested in, I will probably send it in after it has another few polishings.  Eek! :o
#101 - November 02, 2007, 07:47 AM

Pickles

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Goading, thanks for bumping. It's timely.

The most important way to rise above the slush is to follow directions.

If a publisher wants fiction, don't send non-fiction.

If they ask for fun and quirky, don't send sad and sentimental.

If they ask for you to do the subject line a certain way, do it.

Write well.

Target well.

Be professional.

Follow the dingity-dang directions.

#102 - November 02, 2007, 08:37 PM

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But Lill, that's just too easy;)

Bill
#103 - November 02, 2007, 09:38 PM

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Somehow I missed this thread about the Orphan Trains earlier. This is a subject dear to my heart. (OK. Cliche, but true.) My mother rode the OT from Brooklyn to Texas in 1921. Her mother died at the age of 36 and the father put his children in the orphanage. I was told that in those days men were not allowed to raise children alone, especially girls. I don't know if this is true or not. The Children's Aid Society was very helpful to me when I was doing our family geneology. I did have her maiden name and the name of her parents, which made it easier, but they sent more information. I've also written a book, loosely based on her life, but so far have found no interest in it. I'm currently revising after its return. I'd still like to see it published. So that old saying: never, never give up. At least while I'm still breathing.  :books:

Beverly
#104 - November 03, 2007, 08:51 AM
Weird Noises in the Night
I Live in a Doghouse
Star of the Team
And other stories for children and teens.

Mussel Bound

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Thanks, Beverly, and definitely do not give up.  Your book sounds fascinating.

Have you considered submitting excerpts from it to magazines, as short stories?  Then maybe you could build on that momentum and submit the full novel, but of course re-do or replace the parts already published.

#105 - November 03, 2007, 02:24 PM

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Mmm. That's a thought. I might try it. Thanks for the idea.

Beverly
#106 - November 03, 2007, 06:46 PM
Weird Noises in the Night
I Live in a Doghouse
Star of the Team
And other stories for children and teens.

JKFIO

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I've learned so much in this thread.  Thank you pickles for posting it.  I like what Bruce Coville said at a recent SCBWI conference in DC; "go to the library and read over 100 PB, then pick 3 of  the 100, copy them by hand to see how a PB works. 

I really need to get on this board more often than once a week!   ;)
Cheers, Judy
#107 - November 04, 2007, 07:41 AM

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Beverly,

I don't know what truth there is to a single man raising a family, but poverty was such a problem for some during that time that it would have made it almost impossible if you didn't have family to help. From what I read, the Industrial Revolution made a lot of people jobless, with less people needed to do the same work. Also, dips in the stock market caused people in rural communities to lose their farm land and go to the city to find work--all in a time before social services existed. It was a sad situation--homeless children in the street (as many as 30,000), packed orphanages and abandoned babies. When I read about New York Foundling Hospital being a place where mothers could drop off their infants, I immediately thought of how that sort of thing is looked at today as a modern problem. 

I have a tremendous respect for the children who rode the Orphan Trains. I read so many of their stories and see the same strength again and again. The same determination in the face of adversity. I can see why you'd be motivated to honor your mother through a memoir. Really--an amazing group of people.
#108 - November 04, 2007, 04:21 PM

I want to thank Lill for sharing so many of her insights and timely information. We would all do well to heed her advice!

Thank you, thank you!

 :hug1:

Donna
#109 - November 07, 2007, 12:23 PM

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