One Writer’s Journey

March 12, 2020

Three Things You Need to Understand about “Bad” Books

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 12:58 am
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Jane Friedman recently published a post on “bad books.”  You can check out her post, “4 Reasons to Spend Time with “Bad” Books,” here.  This is one of those posts that I’m writing not because she is wrong but simply because I have a different take on the topic.

The first thing that you need to understand about “bad” books is that …

You hate it but someone loved it. One of the women in the book club I attend loves romances.  And I don’t mean the gooey, sugar coated kind.  I mean the rough-and-touble, historic, rapey kind.  Yes, I know rape happened and it still happens, but I don’t feel the need to spend a great deal of time with it  But I love nonfiction with a science bent which she loathes.  She and I both like graphic novels which a third woman barely tolerates.  Thank goodness there are a wide variety of books!  What I consider bad, someone else clearly loved because it is in print which leads us to item #2 for you to consider…

Why was it published?  When you absolutely loathe a book and are certain it is not worth the paper it is printed on, consider why it was published.  What was it about this book that made an editor give it a slot on a limited list?  It is a topic that is generally absent from the shelves although there is a need?  Maybe the character is the hook although the plot didn’t work for you.  Being able to pick out marketable qualities is a skill you can use when submitting your own book.  And last but not least …

What would you do differently?  There is one New York Times bestselling author that I avoid.  The mothers in her books are simply not believable to me, but then I an seriously analytic.  My friend, an accountant, also dislikes her mom-characters.  So I would create a different type of character.  Sometimes I feel like a book should have ended 30 pages before the author finally quit writing.  What would I do differently?  I would write shorter.

All of this can help you understand what you like, how you write, and to whom to send your work.


January 31, 2019

Hot Markets? How to tell if its worth your time

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:02 am
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I read a lot of industry news. I want to see who is publishing what and where my own work might fit into the market.  Several newsletters and blogs I read recommend hot markets “Check these markets out for the opportunity to make a sale.”

But not all “hot markets are created equal.”  Some definitely offer good opportunities for sales.  Others, not so much.  Here is some of what i look for when I’m studying one of these markets.

They are actively acquiring.  It seems obvious but a market can only be “hot” and a possibility if they are buying. If not, it might be a great resource for Sue the Reader but Sue the Writer needs to go elsewhere.

They are a paying market.  Whether you are a published writer or a money-earning professional, great opportunities to publish that offer you exposure but no pay are really only so-so opportunities.  If it is for a cause or organization that you believe in, feel free to donate your time and talent.  Otherwise, think long and hard about giving your work away.

They are acquiring more than a handful of pieces a year.  Recently, I looked into a new-to-me magazine that purchased up to 3 pieces every six months or so.  If I had a manuscript that was a perfect fit, I might have considered it, but I still wouldn’t call it a hot market.  Why?  Because the maximum number of pieces they acquire/year from freelancers is six.  This may be a viable market but hot?  No. I’d call it tepid.

I’m not saying that you should ignore a small market.  But when you see a market listed in a blog, newsletter or magazine, you are going to be competing against everyone else who also saw it listed.  If you have something that is perfect it, send it.  If not, don’t make this market a priority.  Instead, look for one that might publish something you have ready to pitch or submit.


September 11, 2018

MSWL Day: Use This to Research Agents

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:58 am
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Are you looking for an agent?  Then you need to check out Manuscript Wish List Day (#MSWL Day).  It is coming up on September 12, 2018.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with #MSWL it is a tag used by editors and agents to Tweet about what they want.  You will see posts about agents looking for young adult novels, editors seeking books with great voice, and so much more.  I’m always surprised how specific some of the requests are.  “I’d love to see the Marvel universe with all autistic heroes.”  I made that up but some of the requests are just that specific.

All you need to do is go to Twitter and search for #MSWL.

The first time stopped by Twitter on #MSWL day, I thought I would search first thing in the morning and leave the feed up, checking it out throughout the day.  That way I would see all the messages.  Um, yeah.  I came home from yoga to find 400+ new messages.  I’m sure there are people who would scan them all.  I am not that person.

Instead, I waited until late in the day and searched for specific requests.  “#MSWL PB,” “#MSWL picture book,” “#MSWL  STEM,” and “#MSWL nonfiction.”

You can also check out individual agents or editors who interest you. Again, if they post often, just reading through their feed can be tough.  So you might need to search their name and #MSWL.  But my favorite way to do it is from the Manuscript Wish List site.  Click through then search for your agent or editor of interest.  On their profile page, in the center column is a button that says “See my latest #MSWL tweets.”  Guess what?  Click it.  I’ve yet to figure out just how the tweets are arranged.  Not by date.  Not by reverse date.  But you can skim them and see if this agent still looks promising.

You can also like tweets as they are posted.  Then you go to your twitter profile and click likes.  Everything you liked is going to come up which again might be a problem if you like a lot.

Fingers crossed that someone will tweet about something that just so happens to be lingering in your files.  If so, good luck with your submission!



February 8, 2016

News from the Bent Agency

News Bent AgencyJust a quick heads up!   Brooks Sherman of the Bent Agency will be closed to new submissions for several months beginning on Monday, February 8, 2016.  So many good things have happened lately for his clients that he has been busy negotiating etc.  and not responding to queries.  This closure will give him time to catch up.
Brooks will announce on the agency blog when he reopens so check every so often.
The good news is that the agency as a whole is not closed to submissions.  If you are interested in another agent, check out their posts.  The only other agent that I spotted that was closed is Jenny Bent and she is making acceptions (see below).
On January 31, the other Bent agents put out their monthly wish list and here is what they hope to see:
  • Susan Hawk:  A contemporary YA with female main character passionate about STEM (science, math, engineering.)
  • Victoria Lowes:  Literary novel set in small US town during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • Beth Phelan: YA contemporary or magical realism.  Big, oddball family with siblings that are close. Offbeat, fun and heartwarming. Could be dark.  Bonus points if lyrical and “you play with narrative structure.”

Good luck if you have a manuscript that fits on of these descriptions.


February 4, 2016

Manuscripts Wanted by Cricket Media

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 4:00 am
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Call for SubmissionsDid you know that Cricket Media posts manuscript calls with deadlines?  I didn’t have a clue until a friend forwarded a call from Ladybug to me.  What can I say?  On a good day, I learn something new.  There are only two deadlines for their various magazines at the moment and you’ll have to get moving to catch the first one.  But it is doable if you have a piece ready to go — you send your work in via Submittable so it is more-or-less instantaneous.

Cicada call for submission: Visions of the Future

Deadline: February 7, 2016

“The future. Things could get worse.* Or better. Or maybe just different and more deeply weird. Cicada YA lit/comics mag wants sci-fi adventures, utopian schemes, and dystopian thought experiments. Also: tell us how you would change your school, your community, social structures. Especially welcome: works by people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ folks, genderqueer folks, and other marginalized peoples. Submit poetry, fiction, nonfic, comics pitches, and blueprints for your Mars base.

“* Worst case scenarios we’re secretly pumped about: Zombie hordes. Space pirates. Internet brain chips (or like…eyeball implants???). Robot overlords. Ape overlords. Alien overlords. Teen lit mag overlords (HEY, IT COULD HAPPEN).”


Ladybug call for submission:  Adventure 

Deadline: March 23, 2016

“Ladybug is looking for remarkable tales to thrill very young children. For this audience, an exciting story could explore an experience as common as starting out at a new childcare center or as wild as setting sail in a magical ship. Wherever your sense of adventure takes you, we are interested in simple yet strong plots, memorable characters, lively language, and humor.”

Check out the complete guidelines for these two magazines and the other magazines in the group here and, as always, good luck!



November 6, 2015

Markets: Devozine

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:32 am
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Call for SubmissionsEarlier this week, I wrote about the themelists for the Fun for Kidz magazine group. Another themed magazine is Devozine, published by the Upper Room.  The magazine is published by-monthly with one theme/week.  There are only two 2016 themes left — the deadlines for the others have passed.

September/October 2016 (Deadline: 11/28/2015)

  • Living in Fear
  • Facing the Future
  • Never Too Old
  • Prayer Spaces
  • The Plastics
  • Can I Get a Witness?
  • Tick Tock
  • #faith
  • Leading the Way

November/December 2016 (Deadline: 02/02/2016)

  • Teen Parents
  • Letting Go
  • Table for One
  • Room at the Inn
  • Hope
  • Body Movement
  • Why Worship?
  • Music from the Heart
  • Bookworm

I’ve never broken into this particular market but I have written for Alive Now.  Before you submit to Devozine, check out the site and follow the links to additional information on each theme.


November 2, 2015

Markets: Fun for Kids

Call for SubmissionsI’ve yet to break into the Fun for Kids magazine group but there is always hope especially now that the 2016 themes are listed on their site. If you aren’t familiar with this magazine group there are three magazines — Hopscotch for girls, Boys’ Quest for boys, and activity-driven Fun for Kids.  This publisher only wants nonfiction which is amazing news for some of us.  Here are the new theme lists:

Babies and Babysitting  Feb 2016
Frogs, Toads, Salamanders  April 2016
Ice Cream  June 2016
Mysteries  August 2016
Friends  October 2016
Castles and Princesses Dec. 2016

Boys’ Quest:
Weird and Wacky  Feb 2016
Communication  April 2016
Summertime June 2016
Birds August 2016
Wheels  October 2016
Unique Careers  Dec. 2016

Fun for Kids:
Music   Jan. 2016
Fun with Food  Mar 2016
Wild Animals  May  2016
Water  July 2016
Fall Fun   Sept. 2016
Family   Nov. 2016

You’ll find complete guidelines on the Fun for Kidz site and when you pop over there, double check the theme list.  One of the things that I like best about this magazine group is that they delete themes from the list as the issue fills up.

Which themes are you going to try?  I’m tempted to try Castles and Princesses although I know that if they want the traditional princess, I’m going to be way off base!




October 13, 2015

Publishers open to unagented manuscripts

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:00 am
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startup-photosEven as I’m working to find an agent, I know that that may take some time.  So I’m keeping an eye on trade publishers that take submissions directly from authors.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Arthur A. Levine Books is a Scholastic imprint that accepts submissions.  Sadly their work and my work don’t jive but I have to love them for the fact that they are a big deal and still stay open to unsolicited.  Do read their guidelines before submitting because they DO NOT take novels in their entirety.

Albert Whitman and Co. has always been a personal favorite of mine and not just because my son loved the Boxcar Children series.  My friends Dori and Jeff published with them and they just have so  many great books.  This is a publisher who publishes essential nonfiction (age appropriate books about many health matter) but fun picture books.

Charlesbridge has always been one of my dream publishers.  I almost made a sale to them.  Almost.  My friends Kristen, Jeanie and Donna all have picture books with Charlesbridge.  I love them for their amazing nonfiction.

Creston Books is fairly new but I love Rotten Pumpkin which takes a pumpkin through the decomposition process.  Not exactly your typical picture book but Creston rose to the challenge with magnificent photos of MOLD as several of the illustrations.  Yep.  Mold.  And those photos are amazing.

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers is another one of my dream publishers.  I actually wrote my prayer book with them in mind and, if I don’t get any interest on the part of an agent, off to Eerdman’s I go.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children is another one of the big players and I’ll admit it.  I didn’t believe it when I heard they were open to unsolicited.  But they are as is Clarion.  You use this same link to access information for Clarion as well.

That’s not an exhaustive list but here are 6 trade publishers who take unsolicited manuscripts.  The next time that someone tells you that you have to have an agent to send in your work just smile.



September 23, 2015

Markets: Agents and editors seeking manuscripts

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:22 am
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Call for SubmissionsHave you visited Manuscript Wishlist yet?  One of my writing buddies pointed out this great market resource.  This site lists literally hundreds of agents and editors and what they want to receive.  Need an agent that represents only children’s books?  Or picture books?  Then this is the place to look.  You can search by:

  • Agent/editor name
  • Genre
  • Keyword/Tag

This isn’t one of those sites that claims to provide up-to-date listings but then sits static for weeks or months.  There may not be new listings daily but there are listings posted each week.

I have to admit that I’m bad about checking sites like this but I added Manuscript Wishlist to my blog reader.  Now feedly will pull in the latest listings for me to check at my leisure.

Hopefully you will find this site as useful as I have.



August 5, 2015

Markets Seeking Manuscripts

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:17 am
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Call for SubmissionsI love it when I spot publishers who want to hear from writers.  Here are a few of the ones that I’ve read about recently.  They won’t work for me, but maybe they are perfect for you.

Fig Tree Books

This new publisher wants books about the diverse American Jewish experience.  It is currently looking for a variety of materials including both young-adult and graphic-novel manuscripts.  They accept books from both agents and authors so this is a good one to look into if you don’t have an agent.  Find out more here.

Harper Impulse

Is a digital imprint seeking, among other things, New Adult contemporary, historical, and paranormal romantic fiction. “We are looking for any length & really want writers who want to push the boundaries in terms of storytelling – whether that be mashing genres, experimenting with length etc.” This is a digital only imprint with a focus on readers and their devices although where their authors and readers reside is wide open. “We are global and we want authors from everywhere and anywhere because we are going to reach readers everywhere and anywhere – all they need is a reading device and we can send them our books!” To find out more, see their guidelines here.

Pelican Publishing Company

If you don’t know this name than you should.  This is the largest independent trade publisher in the American South.  As always, they are looking for children’s queries.  Yes, you have to query first.

For books slanted to readers ages 5 to 8 years, queries include a brief letter, a list of the author’s credits, the full manuscript and a SASE.  I know.  I don’t consider it a query if you include the full manuscript but I’m not going to quible if they are willing to look at the manuscript.

For older readers, include a query, a list of the author’s credits, an outline and a chapter or two as well as a SASE.  For more information, see here.

Hopefully one of these markets is perfect for your and your manuscript.  If not, maybe we’ll find the perfect market soon!




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