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I've written and edited my first children's story/book. What should I do now?

(27 Posts)
dabbler Thu 07-Feb-13 10:39:28

The obvious answer is probably to send it to an agent but I am baulking at that, either because it would be the first manuscript I've ever sent (scared!) or because I think I should do something else before I send it.

Family (including DD) and friends have read it and loved it. Out of them all there is one person who's opinion I really trust and she said it was great (she's a big reader and has 3 grown up kids). But basically nobody who doesn't know me has read it and I don't know anyone in the writing/publishing field.

Should I ask friend if she will critique final manuscript? Should I join a writing group to get feedback? Or should I just stop procrastinating and send it to an agent and be done with?

Would be grateful for any opinions/experience.

(btw I've written 3 follow up stories to it too)

looseleaf Thu 07-Feb-13 14:15:59

Well done!
I used to work in children's publishing (editorial) and make sure you research carefully who to send it to so you don't get unnecessary rejections - with our rejection letters we used to suggest looking at The Writers and Artists' yearbook.
And go for it - if you just accept that some rejection is often part of the course and commonplace eg it was for JK Rowling, you've got nothing to lose and in fact to write something and finish it is already a good achievement to be proud of. Hope it does well.

dabbler Thu 07-Feb-13 18:25:49

Thanks for the encouragement looseleaf. I'm researching who to send it to at the moment

dabbler Mon 11-Feb-13 13:00:51

I have written 3,500 words. Would that count as a book for a 5-8 year old or a short story?

NTitled Mon 11-Feb-13 13:04:54

"there is one person who's opinion I really trust". You mentioned that you have edited it. Given the grammatical error, though, I'd get someone else to edit it before sending it anywhere.

Assuming that side is sorted, Looseleaf's advice is great. Good luck!

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 11-Feb-13 13:10:58

You need to put it away and come back to it later. You'll see errors better this way. Don't ask your friends or relatives to read it, they will always give you good feedback no matter what. Is there a writers group near you? The word count depends on the publisher, they like small word counts.

dabbler Mon 11-Feb-13 13:16:50

Ahh, whose. How bad does a grammatical error have to be before it causes rejection? (genuine question)
I had already put it away LadyMary but it looks like I should probably do so again!

dabbler Mon 11-Feb-13 13:22:28

Thanks so much to everyone.
Does anyone know if 3,500 is small enough for a children's book, 5-8 year olds?
(I have so many questions, trying not to ask all of them)

MooncupGoddess Mon 11-Feb-13 13:23:49

I don't think a grammatical error would cause rejection in itself - but it would make your submission look sloppy and amateur, which would prejudice potential agents/publishers against it.

Have you done some competitor analysis? Essentially, check that your book is right in style/level/format for the market you're aiming at, and that its title isn't too similar to anything else on the market.

Look on the web for sample submissions you could draw on to make sure that your email to agents contains all the information they will need. And check the authors each agent already has on their books so you know you're emailing the right people.

dabbler Mon 11-Feb-13 13:37:58

Ok thanks Mooncup. Saving all these ideas.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 11-Feb-13 13:39:10

They are incredibly picky now I'm afraid. It's incredibly difficult for first time writers to get published, and even harder for children's writers. Never give up though!

dabbler Mon 11-Feb-13 13:44:34

Thanks LadyMary, I had thought about the writers group but haven't found one nearby yet that seems right. Tbh that would probably be the best thing to do.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 11-Feb-13 13:49:58

There's plenty online. I ended up not using one though and used beta readers instead (same principle, they will point out the errors and inconsistencies). I found them all on twitter but it took time to build this relationship up. The Children's Writers and Artists year book has info about word count, agents and publishers, it suggests anywhere from 300 to 1,200 words for this age group, the bulk will still be illustrations.

dabbler Mon 11-Feb-13 13:55:10

What are beta readers and can I get them any other way then twitter?

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 11-Feb-13 13:59:06

Do you know someone very ruthless but well read? They do the job of a critique group. You may be able to find one on here if you start a thread. smile I write picture book texts and have just finished a 9+ novel (don't ask, it seemed like a good idea at the time). I've been doing this for two and a half years and have had little bits of interest from agents and publishers. I'm getting help from an agent at the moment but I'm unsigned.

Abra1d Mon 11-Feb-13 14:14:23

You definitely need to find people to critique your work and it is good if they are not friends from RL, too, (though you can become friendly with critiquers--I have some great friends I met through writing). People who don't know you personally will, if necessary, be more ruthless about pointing out things you need to work on. And you will know that if they praise you it's genuine.

It is a good idea to join an online writing group if you can and swap manuscripts with other writers. You will learn from critiquing their work. Once I had bitten the bullet and started doing this I began to get acceptances for short stories from magazines, and then for novels.

I wouldn't be a critique partner with someone whose work is at a very unprofessional level, though. This sounds harsh but it's just realistic. You can get caught up just explaining the basics of grammar and syntax, etc.

Try and find someone who's about your level, or preferably a bit further on down the road to publication.

Good luck and enjoy it. Writing is frustrating at times but can be magical.

dabbler Mon 11-Feb-13 14:29:02

Brilliant advice, thanks everyone. I'm going to look again for a writer's group locally and, if I find nothing suitable, I'll try online, maybe even an online course. The friend I mentioned is very well read and ruthlessly honest but a good friend and I think I want to keep it that way (can't guarantee my rection to criticism at this early stage.)
Might just send the blasted manuscript to an agent anyway just to get the fantasy that I will be immediately accepted out of my head

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 11-Feb-13 14:44:23

Be careful with the courses. Some of them are just after your cash. Word of advice about agents; some don't reply and most keep you waiting for months. Have you looked for some competitions? It can be a great way to get your work noticed and to get some feedback.

dabbler Mon 11-Feb-13 14:55:24

LadyMary, any recommendations for online writing courses? Or online writing groups?
Do you get feedback from competitions if you don't win?

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 11-Feb-13 15:01:44

I only use beta readers. No, they don't usually give you feedback unless you win. I'd try twitter if I were you. I've met a lot of great writers on there and have picked up a lot of very useful contacts and information. There's regular 'pitch to agent' events so you could get this picked up if one of them likes it. wink

School run time, oh joy! sad

dabbler Mon 11-Feb-13 15:07:06

Must get back to the day job too! Thanks

Abra1d Mon 11-Feb-13 16:18:43

Don't send it to any agents without getting someone else to read it. Seriously, don't! You get one shot at approaching an agent and it is beyond annoying to realise, when it's too late, that you've missed something. Sit on your hands!

I once got good feedback from a writing competition run by Piatkus alongside the Winchester Writers Conference. I had two pages of critique on, I think, the first two or three pages of a novel.

dabbler Mon 11-Feb-13 16:25:04

Thanks for the reality check Abra. What you say makes sense.

Abra1d Mon 11-Feb-13 16:42:55

I speak through bitter experience of screwing things up for myself: I once sent an agent the wrong version of the first three pages of a novel. I had kindly underlined all the bits that needed amendments and annotated the margin saying things like, 'Rubbish', 'Dreadful'.

I should have waited and double-checked the package one last time the following morning to make sure I'd put in the cleaned-up version. But no. He was a top, top agent as well and taking on authors in my area. Needless to say, he didn't feel he needed to read the rest of my novel. smile)

Nobody else would have done half the daft things I have done over the years.

dabbler Mon 11-Feb-13 16:50:46

Ha ha! But you're a published writer now. Fantastic

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