A short time ago I received an e-mail from Dawn Jeffers my editor at Raven Tree Press, stating that she would be in town for a conference and would like to get together. I was excited to get a chance to meet someone I had only communicated with via e-mail. Plans were made and a date was set for us to meet at a local hotel here in San Diego. Shortly before I left for my meeting, dressed in my meeting with my editor clothes instead of my usual “Mom” clothes, my younger son asked me if I was nervous. I told him that I was going to meet with someone to talk about books (one of my favorite things) and that I was more excited than nervous.
The meeting was great. Dawn was a very kind and gracious person and very patient with an excited new author. We talked about the publishing business, life in general and yes, we did talk about books. I have to say this was a great opportunity for me as a first time published author, to able to talk face to face with an editor and ask her some questions that had been on my mind.
Below are some tips I received from Dawn, I decided to pass them on to other aspiring writers, hoping that maybe it will help them as well:
1. Know Your Market- Know what is happening in the industry.
I go to book stores and libraries constantly to check out the new books. Look for trends, this doesn’t mean that if you see 45 vampire books that you should write one too. Look a little deeper, the trend today is for picture books to have fewer words, so that 3,500 word manuscript of yours should be pared down and fast.
2. Presentation- Present a professional product.
This one seemed like a no brainer to me, but I was surprised by the stories of the quality of manuscripts that had been sent to her. You don’t need to send any fancy things along just a nice professionally presented manuscript.
(If in doubt see “Tales From the Slushpile”)
3. Research Publishers– Try to match your story with the right publishing house.
Once again this seems to be a given, but there are books out there such as the “Children’s Writer & Illustrator’s Market” (Alice Pope) that will tell you exactly what a particular publisher is looking for. Make sure to check the publishers site as well to make sure there have not been any changes in submission policies.
4. Be Willing to Make Changes
If you are tied to your manuscript and not willing to make changes, you won’t get a book deal.
5. Be Patient
The publishing business is a long slow business. You might be eager to hear from an editor, but be prepared to wait, they are very busy people and yours is not the only manuscript they are reading.
I know for some of the experienced writers out there these tips will seem very basic, but based on the stories I heard, I thought they needed to be passed along again.
Writing on the Sidewalk