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gita.rosser

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Hi

A few days ago I joined SCBWI and went ahead introducing myself.  I am new to the writing world so I do have a few questions as I go about my writing.  I apologize in advance if others have asked these questions before, but I was not able to find all the answers to my questions.  So far everyone has been so nice so I thought I would ask my questions through the message boards.


Can I send my manuscript to a few publishers at the same time?

Is it necessary for my picture book to contain 500 words or is it ok to have less than 500?

How do you prevent someone from stealing your ideas?

Is it necessary to be an excellent writer in order to write a book?  I ask because I feel that I am a good writer, not an excellent one, but I have several great ideas.

Is it ok to write two books at one time, especially if they don?t have any correlation to each other?

Thank you
Gita
#1 - January 10, 2014, 01:31 PM

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Hi Gita. Welcome! Here are some versions of answers.

Quote
Can I send my manuscript to a few publishers at the same time?

Yes, most publishers (and agents) accept non-exclusive submissions, meaning you can sub to several at a time. Just make sure your manuscript is really, really ready -- you only get one shot per publisher/agent per manuscript.


Quote
Is it necessary for my picture book to contain 500 words or is it ok to have less than 500?

Many editors and agents PREFER short picture books -- under 500 words -- as long as everything that needs to be there for the story is there.

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How do you prevent someone from stealing your ideas?

Publishers and agents don't do this -- if they do it's so rare I've not heard of it. Usually ideas are not easily stolen because writing books themselves is HARD and everything is execution. But if you have a very high-concept, commercial concept, you might not want to publish the pitch widely on the Internet. I don't know writers who steal ideas, but there are some unscrupulous people out there somewhere.

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Is it necessary to be an excellent writer in order to write a book?  I ask because I feel that I am a good writer, not an excellent one, but I have several great ideas.

Answers will vary, but I don't think you need to be naturally extremely gifted in order to produce quality, publishable work. You need some basic talent and feel for language -- the rest is craft that can be learned through study and work.

Quote
Is it ok to write two books at one time, especially if they don?t have any correlation to each other?

Every writer has a different method -- some are manuscript monogamists, and others can write several books at time. I'd say that many of us have manuscripts in different stages -- planning, draft, idea. If you write PB, it's best to develop at least three solid manuscripts if you want to approach agents. It's best even if you want to approach publishers, since the skills you learn on each can be applied to drafts of the others.

 
#2 - January 10, 2014, 01:50 PM
Kell Andrews
www.kellandrews.com
Twitter @kellandrewsPA

THE BOOK DRAGON, Sterling, October 2, 2018
MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE, Sterling, 2016

gita.rosser

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Thank you so much Kell.  This is very helpful.  I started writing a picture book and ended up with 310 words, so I was a little concerned that the amount of words will not be sufficient. 

Also is there anywhere on this site where someone can proofread my unfinished work for grammatical errors?
#3 - January 10, 2014, 01:59 PM

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Hi Gita. As a new picture book writer, your best bet is a more thorough critique -- not just grammar, but language, flow, character, plot, arc, etc. Another important tool is critiquing the work of others -- it will help you understand your own craft as well.

There is a critique request/manuscript exchange board here:
https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?board=73.0
#4 - January 10, 2014, 02:21 PM
Kell Andrews
www.kellandrews.com
Twitter @kellandrewsPA

THE BOOK DRAGON, Sterling, October 2, 2018
MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE, Sterling, 2016

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Hi GitaR,

Welcome! Below is a list of various resources that I can recommend.


For writing PB crafts books, I recommend reading
Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul
Nuts to Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books by Linda Ashman - http://www.lindaashman.com/newsletter.htm

A critique group once you have a written a few stories is a MUST, almost Mandatory. You will learn a lot by giving/receiving feedback. It also helps solidify the concepts you will learn from craft books and classes.

You may want to check out the 12x12 Picture Book Challege it is a great community for learning, sharing anything and everything regarding the Picture Book Craft. Sign-up for this year is taking place this month. http://www.juliehedlund.com/registration-for-2014/. I have been involved with it for the last 2 years.



Making Picture Book Magic - http://www.susannahill.com/MAKING_PICTURE_BOOK_MAGIC.html - great crash course where Susanna teaches you systematically how to build a Picture Book story block-by block. Highly interactive. I took the course last summer and loved it. And it is one of the cheapest classes you will find.

Kidlit411.com - brand new site lot of great links.

After all that just read, read, read as many PB books as you can and write, write, write.

Best of luck. Have Fun!
#5 - January 10, 2014, 03:55 PM
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Hi


How do you prevent someone from stealing your ideas?

Is it necessary to be an excellent writer in order to write a book?  I ask because I feel that I am a good writer, not an excellent one, but I have several great ideas.


Thank you
Gita

Welcome to the SCBWI.

Your other questions are thoroughly answered by others above, but I'd like to clarify these two.

By definition ideas can not be stolen or copyrighted. It is possible for two people to have the same idea at the same time (I bet you've even expressed an idea with the same words as someone else at the same time). Only the execution can be stolen. If we were both to write books about a young girl who picked up the wrong, although identical, stuffed animal as she was leaving preschool, neither of us would write Knuffle Bunny. The work itself is what counts. Reputable people don't steal work. The hint of this kind of scandal could ruin them.

It is necessary to study how to become an excellent writer in order to make your book sing so that others will want to market it. Anyone can write. Not everyone has talent. Perseverance and study go a long way to making up for a lack of talent.
#6 - January 13, 2014, 08:46 AM
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Quote
It is necessary to study how to become an excellent writer in order to make your book sing so that others will want to market it. Anyone can write. Not everyone has talent. Perseverance and study go a long way to making up for a lack of talent.

^^ This. Perseverance and study  is needed for all writers. The most talented writers are often also the hardest workers. The most successful ones almost always are.
#7 - January 13, 2014, 09:50 AM
Kell Andrews
www.kellandrews.com
Twitter @kellandrewsPA

THE BOOK DRAGON, Sterling, October 2, 2018
MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE, Sterling, 2016

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Hi, GitaR.
You've come to the right place. Welcome!
My latest favorite resource is Linda Ashman's The Nuts & Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books. It was the best $20 I have spent in a long time!
http://www.lindaashman.com/newsletter.htm
I happened to buy the PDF version, but she now has a $10 version available.
Tammi
 
#8 - January 13, 2014, 03:20 PM
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Hi Gita

Welcome!

I am going to reiterate the suggestion of finding a critique group, it was the best thing I did to help my writing.  Go to your regional chapter's home page, you can get there from the SCBWI home page, and there should be links that will direct you in finding active critique groups in your area.  Good Luck!

Paul
#9 - January 17, 2014, 12:34 PM

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Welcome, Gita!!


I just wanted to add a couple more resources.  The book I hold most dear is Harold Underdown's The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books.  Also, his website, "The Purple Crayon," is www.underdown.org


Happy writing! :carrot







#10 - January 21, 2014, 05:27 PM

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