Thursday, August 20, 2009

Madonna did it and so can I!

Tip of the Day: Wonder what the average picture book author gets for an advance? Barbara Kanninen surveyed 100 authors and posted the info here.

As you know, Lisa’s (Miss Crafting a Career) first book was a picture book for little ones about lulling babies to sleep.











So she is the perfect perfect for today's question:

Kristina:

Ok Lisa, I'm going to tap into your children's book writer brain! You know I have a couple of dozen or so kids right? ;) Well, that means I hang out with a ton of moms of my kids. And over and over again a mom will tell me about her dream to write a children's book. And they ask me for any tips I have for getting into the children's book writing field. And I kind of go blank. If you ask me about how to get started in the teen fiction field I could go on all day and point you in a bunch of directions. But I never know what to tell these mom friends of mine in regards to children's books. So Lisa, could you please tell me how you would answer this question and then I can just steal what you said and pretend I'm the super cool smart one? Thanks!

Lisa:

Oh, this is a hard one.


Because I think people think picture books are super easy to write. And they aren't. You're supposed to tell a story with a plot and interesting characters that kids will want to listen to again and again in 700 words or less.


And the picture book market is SO competitive. I mean, breaking in is tough. REALLY tough.


But, you can't really tell people, "don't bother," can you?


First, I would recommend they get a couple of books


1) The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books by Harold Underdown.


2) The Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market (CWIM) (a new edition comes out every August) edited by Alice Pope.


These two books will give them a great starting place - everything from how to format a manuscript to what publishing houses take unsolicited manuscripts will be in these two books. Because not many agents take on picture book authors, I think it might be better for someone new to picture books to submit on their own, to houses that take unsolicited. When I started writing back in 2001 or so, there were quite a few. I know there aren't as many now, but there are still a few. If they can, they should get themselves to a writer's conference and get a critique. This is a great way to get some feedback and if they're paired with an editor at a publishing house, and the manuscript is good, it can be a way "in."


There are resources all over the web as well.


http://write4kids.com is a great one. On the home page is a big thing that says, "Beginning Writer? Start here!"


http://scbwi.org is another good one. It costs money to join but you'll get a newsletter, have access to their message boards, find out about local conferences, etc.


http://teachingauthors.com


If your friend is serious about finding out how to do this and about writing the best story she can write, she'll take this information and run with it. If she was hoping you would give her your agent's phone number, she may look at you funny when you tell her to go get some books on the subject. There is no "easy road" as we all know. Each writer has to find his/her own path and be open and willing to learn as much as possible about writing and how to get published.


So, there you go. As an aside, you will get asked about what you do at book signings and things too, and people will want to pick your brain. So you may want to have a sheet ready that you can hand out that gives books, web sites, organizations, etc. all dealing with writing/publishing for kids and teens.


Hope that helps!!


Kristina:

Thank you Lisa!!! You gave such great information. And I LOVE your last tip—what a good idea to have a sheet ready to hand out! :)


Kristina, MIss Delighted to Debut


3 comments:

DeenaML said...

There's something nice to me about the idea of telling a would-be-writer that they need to buy some books to learn how to write them. I mean, we should WANT to spend some money on the industry to which we want to belong!

Ghost Girl said...

Absolutely, Deena! And they should read lots and lots of the kind of books they want to write.

Anonymous said...

The charity 'Raising Malawi' (PR firm) founded by Madonna AND TWO OTHERS in '06' held fund raisers for over two years before finally getting registered as a non-profit. In other words, Madonna and the others were free to squander that funding any way they saw fit for those first two years. In fact, they still havn't accounted for the 3.7 million raised from a single event in the fall of '07' (The grand opening of a Gucci flagship store in Manhattan.). She also pleaded with her fans worldwide for donations along the way. In the meantime, she toured the world to promote her latest CD and raked in another $280,000,000 gross in just over 12 months. To date, the basic financial info for 'Raising Malawi' still hasn't been posted on the website or anywhere else. The 'progress' page only tells of the collective works by over 20 seperate charities. Each of which have their own sources of funding and may have recieved some sort of promotion or support from 'Raising Malawi' in order to be considered 'partners'. But no indication is made how much of their funding came from 'Raising Malawi' or how much of their progress if any could be directly attributed to 'Raising Malawi'. The fans/donors have no clue how many millions of dollars were raised in that first two years, no clue how much Madonna herself chipped in, and no clue how the money was spent before they finally registered as a non-profit. No clue what fraction of funding or works listed on that 'progress' page could be directly attributed to 'Raising Malawi'. Nothing to go on but the vague and misleading word of Madonna. For example: She states in her latest promotional video that she will match any contributions made to her charity (PR firm) "dollar for dollar". However, there is a disclaimer posted on the website for 'Raising Malawi' that Madonna's total contribution will not exceed $100,000. Thats not per donation. Thats a maximum of $100,000 TOTAL. Less than a single days pay for Madonna. Also much less then she will surely rake in by promoting her own CDs, DVDs, and 'for profit' merchandise through this massive worldwide publicity stunt. So I called the office of 'Raising Malawi' in an attempt to verify some sort of efficient financial operation (310) 867-2881 or (888) 72-DONOR). These details are ALWAYS made available by legitimate charities. But not in this case. I got nothing but recorded messages and hangups. So I did some research on my own. 'Raising Malawi' still hasn't been given any kind of rating by ANY independent charity watchdog like Charitywatch.org. The vast overwhelming majority of 'celebrity' foundations never are. In general, they are inneficient and riddled with corruption. Like the promotion of CDs, world tours, commercial websites, entire lines of jewelry (not just the single piece from which proceeds are donated), and high end retail flagship stores. Its far less expensive to promote your image and product with a contribution to your own charity (PR firm) than it is to buy commercial airtime worldwide. This is why its become such a trend. Celebrity foundations are also notorious for squandering much of their funding on private jet rides and super high end accomodations for their managers, PR crews, and celebrity figure heads. Its legal even for a nonprofit but not noble or efficient by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, non-profits are not actually required by law to be efficient. This is why the independent rating is so important. In general, 'celebrity' foundations never even get one. They are a twisted inefficient mutant of charity, self-promotion, exotic travel, and PR crap. Still, they compete for funding with more efficient legitimate charities. The celebrity figure heads often disregard the primary donors, co-founders, and managers, take personal credit for any collective work done, and seek maximum publicity shortly before or after the release of their own commercial projects. Its a sham. So if its not rated, then don't support it. Instead, support a top rated charity like any of those given high ratings at Charitywatch.org.