One Writer’s Journey

May 29, 2018

Gut Instinct: Paying Attention to Your Writing Hunches

One of the stories that Karen Boss of Charlesbridge told at the KS-MO SCBWI Advanced Writers Retreat was about sending out a rejection letter.  She e-mailed the writer, briefly explaining why the manuscript didn’t quite work.  She got a response.  “Thank you for your feedback on my manuscript.  That’s what I thought was the problem, too.”

The funny thing is that she’s received that kind of response several times.  Sometimes it is face-to-face at a conference critique. She’ll suggest that a writer should change something and they agree, telling her that they too spotted the problem.  Other times she gets this response following a rejection.

Why does she mention these responses?  What’s the problem with them?

It’s pretty simple.  If, as you finish up your manuscript, you have this niggling feeling that the setting is too generic or you need more beats of action, do it.  Fix it.  Rewrite your story.  Don’t wait and see if someone else notices the problem. This is especially true if your work is going to an agent or an editor.

You shouldn’t submit anything that isn’t as good as it can be.  That means fixing whatever is drawing your attention as wrong or even just not quite as good as it could be.

The exception to this is if you want to try something new.  It might be a new genre to you.  It might be something you’ve never seen done before and you just aren’t sure that it is going to work.  Try it and then take it to your critique group.  Admitting that you suspected there was a problem to your critique group is one thing. You can explain to them what you were trying to do and why.  They can help you see why it didn’t work and what might work better.

Saying something like this to an editor who might have published your work?  That’s something completely different.  If you see the problem, fix it.  Then submit your work.  It will greatly increase your chance of making a sale.



February 6, 2017

Submit Smarter, Not More Often: How to Increase Your Writing Income

balancing-marketsIf you’re anything like me, you’d love to earn more writing income.  Although I make my living as a writer, I’m to the point that I’d really like to make a “good” living as a writer.  In her newsletter Funds for Writers, Hope Clark recently told readers about a new approach that I’m going to try — the 25/50/25 tool.

Google “25/50/25 writing” and you’re going to find several different versions.  The way that Hope uses it is related to income.

25% of your pitches should go to easy markets.  These are your sure things, the ones that almost never turn you down.  For some people there are non-paying markets that simply give them a byline.  For me, they pay but not especially well.  But they give me exposure and they are sure things.

50% of your pitches should go to markets that pay better and are a bit more challenging but are in reach.  Not everything that you submit to these markets is a sure thing but you do get acceptances.  They pay a little better but probably aren’t going to pay the mortgage.

The final 25%?  These are your dream markets.  Want an agent?  Or a Highlights byline?  Then some of your work needs to go to these markets — 25%.

Keep submitting this ratio to each type of market — 25% to sure things, 50% to harder solid opportunities, and 25% to long shots — and slowly but surely you will find yourself getting more and more acceptance from better paying markets. That’s the theory anyway and I’m going to give it a shot.

In the need for more markets?  Spend some time looking through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators market listings if you are a member.  Or you can check out the list of Children’s Book Council Members.  Or Evelyn Christensen’s educational markets for children’s writers listings. If you want a specific type of market, Google “Children’s magazines” or whatever.  Then look for the guidelines on their sites.  If you want to see what markets are buying, Google “Writer for Us,” “Writer’s Guidelines” or something similar.

I checked my submissions and pitches for January and had 3 sure things, 2 pitches to maybe markets, and 3 long shots (pitches to agents).  That puts me at 38/24/38.  Not sure what that means at this point but I’ll have to see how this works out over the next several months to a year.


January 26, 2017

Manuscript Tracking: How Fancy Do You Get?

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:34 am
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keeping-trackWay back in the olden’ days, translation: the early 2000s, I had some spiffy manuscript tracking software.  It was written by someone in my critique group and had fields for manuscript title, editor/agent, and publisher/agency.  It also pinged mercilessly to remind you when you needed to follow up on something.  Unfortunately, my friend decided that it was a huge hastle to update the software every time Windows updated.

What was I to do?  I looked at various programs and services but I’m notoriously frugal.  Okay, some people might say that I’m cheap.  But I wasn’t going to throw good money when I already had Excel.  That’s still what I use today.

Whenever I send something out, I make an entry in the Excel file that is oh-so creatively named Tracking.  I know!  Isn’t that an awesome file name?  And I still get reminders because I mark my calendar with when I should hear something.

If making up your own spread sheet doesn’t sound appealing, Writer’s Digest currently has six different spread sheets available to help you keep track of what is where.  They are:

•    Freelance Pitch Tracker
•    Literary Journal Submission Tracker
•    Freelance Payment Tracker
•    Agent Query Tracker
•    Direct-to-Publisher Query Tracker
•    Agent Submissions to Publishers Tracker

To link through and get them, visit the Writer’s Digest announcement here.  Keeping track of what is where doesn’t have to be fancy but it really is something you need to do.  If one editor or agent makes an offer, you want to know who else currently has your work.  Otherwise you might find yourself in an embarrassing situation!


December 9, 2015

Manuscripts Wanted: Might Media Press

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:22 am
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Call for SubmissionsAre you looking for a publisher that takes an active part in publicity?  No, I’m not teasing.

Sammy Bosch, Director of Marketing & Publicity at Mighty Media Pres, had this to say when interviewed by Carrie of Carrie On . . . Together! “The marketing team at MMP schedules a book launch tour for every author, and continues to book tours for each author in subsequent seasons. We also plan out year-long promotion opportunities for each book—collaborative book trailers, partnering with organizations, social media promotions (e.g., giveaways, Twitter chats with authors, news reveals, etc.), the use of new technology to promote a title, blog tours, holiday promotions, special swag and event kits for key titles, and much, much more! We schedule interviews, guest blogs, and media hype for each author as well.”

Sounds pretty amazing doesn’t it?  The bad news is that Might Media Press only reads manuscripts during their open reading period.  The good news is that period is NOW (from October 1 to April 30).

Mighty Media Press wants books that meet these four mission criteria:  The book must ignite the child reader’s Curiosity (1), Imagination (2), Social Awareness (3) and Sense of Adventure (4).

If your manuscript meets these criteria and you’d like to work with a publisher that takes an active roll in publicity, check out the submissions guidelines here.



October 15, 2015

Agents: Adding to my list

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:24 am
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Agent HuntAt critique group last week, I showed my query letter to several other writers.  Now I have some idea what to shorten and what to expand before I send my letter off.  But just in case my top three agents aren’t interested in representing my work, I’m still collecting the names of agents I might approach.
Debbie Ridpath Ohi of who blogs at Inky Girl wrote up 5 agents who are looking for picture books. I dropped one off the list because the agency is currently closed to submissions:
Jodell Sadler of Jodell Sadler Children’s Literary.  Unlike some of the others, Jodell gives scads of information on her agency site.  She takes picture books through young adult, fiction and nonfiction.  Because this is a single agent house, it is pretty obvious that if the agency reps a client, she reps the client.
Michelle Witte at Mansion Street Management.  Michelle represents both fiction and nonfiction which puts her up high on my list.  She also represents picture books through young adult.  This is definitely someone I’m going to research.
Jessica Sinsheimer at Sarah Jane Freyman Literary Agency.  This site listed their clients but gave very little information about the agents themselves.  Because of this, I’ll have to do some digging to even know if I want to do some digging and seriously research this agent.
Julie Stevenson at Waxman Leavell Literary Agency.  Although the link reveals a lot about her past (she went to Wash U in St. Louis) and her style (she’s a hands-on agent who provides feedback on early drafts), I didn’t get a feel for her books.  Thus she’s further down the list.
For those of you who write primarily young adult, here are three agents that I read about on the Manuscript Wish List.
Alison Fargi
Elizabeth Copps
Kisa Whipkey

March 30, 2015

Markets: Manuscripts Wanted

Call for SubmissionsHere are five publishers looking for manuscripts. The first three are themed publications for young readers.  They want pitches.

Odyssey is the science magazine for the Carus educational group.  The theme for January 2016 is Hidden Earth.  Here’s what the editors have to say about this topic: “ODYSSEY journeys to the most hard-to-reach locations on Earth. Who’s exploring them, and what’s still waiting to be discovered?”  Queries are due April 2, 2015 which is this Friday so don’t dawdle.  You can find out more about how to pitch to Odyssey here.  NOTE: If the editor’s don’t know you, you will need to supply clips.

Faces is another one from Carus educational, this time focusing on world cultures.  The theme for March 2016 is Kenya with queries due April 7, 2015.  Find out more about this opportunity here.

Appleseed is the Carus educational multicultural social studies magazine.  The theme for February 2016 is Soccer.  “It’s one of the most popular sports in the world…a look at the game of soccer, from kids all the way to the World Cup.”  You have a bit more time for this one.  Queries are due April 2015.  Find out more here.

Give one of these markets a try and you may find yourself adding a line to your writing resume.  Good luck!


February 25, 2015

Pitches wanted for ASK magazine

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:06 am
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Call for SubmissionsAlthough I’ve never tried to break into ASK magazine, this theme is pretty tempting. The current theme is “making stuff.”  This is what the editors of ASK have to say:

“Long ago, people made everything they needed. Why not give it a try?
“Pioneer skills; living history town or farm; 3d printers; how to make soap, cloth, other item; Plastic from milk; DIY cell phone; Makerspaces; making stuff from recycled material.”

ASK is part of the Cricket group.  They don’t want completed articles but queries. The editors are looking for feature articles (1200-1600 words); the occasional photo essay (400-600 words); humor (200-400 words); short pieces on rofiles of people, inventions, events, or art (200-400 words); and experiments that match the theme.

If, like me, you haven’t written for this magazine, be prepared to include a writing sample of 200 unedited words on any nonfiction topic.

Final copy must be scientifically correct and you will have to include a bibliography.

Interested? Check out their complete guidelines here.



December 26, 2014

Market: Alloy Entertainment Looking for Manuscripts

Call for SubmissionsThe Collaborative division of Alloy Entertainment is looking for manuscripts.  They want to acquire up to twelve partial or complete manuscripts per year. The emphasis is on women’s fiction, young adult, middle grade, and chapter books.  The Collaborative and the author “shape” the manuscript together and then determine the “steps for publication.”  I’m not 100% certain what they mean by this, thus the quotes, but it seems that they put the piece through the editorial process, acting as agents.

Why do I say acting as agents?  Because they developed How to Love by Katie Cotugno, a romance told in alternating Before and After chapters.  This book was published in October 2013 on Balzer & Bray’s list, an imprint of HarperCollins.  The Art of Disappearing by Elena Perez, a novel about a girl learns she may be psychic, launched as an e-book in August 2012, this time under Alloy Entertainment.

The Collaborative is reviewing full or partial fiction manuscripts.  No scripts.  Those without an agent should send query e-mail that contains a brief overview of the book’s premise and the authors writing background. Also, attach the first five pages of the manuscript as a Word Doc .

They also state that they are “only interested in manuscripts which have not previously been submitted to publishing houses.”

You can check out the details on the Alloy website.



December 22, 2014

Market: Highlights Annual Contest Announced

Call for SubmissionsDo you have a short mystery (750 words or less) for young readers?  Then get it out and polish it up because you are in luck.  The category for Highlights 2015 Fiction Contest is mysteries.

As with all submissions, Highligts welcomes work from both published and unpublished authors. All submissions must be previously unpublished and not found online.  No crime, violence, or derogatory humor.

Word count is limited to 750 words; note the actual word count in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of your manuscript.

When you get your contest entry ready to submit, market it or the envelope FICTION CONTEST. Any submissions not marked for the contest will be considered a regular Highlights submission.

All entries must be postmarked between January 1 and January 31, 2015.

Three winners will recieve a prize of $1,000 or tuition for any Highlights Foundation Founders Workshop.  The three winners will be announced on in June 2015 and their entries will be purchased by Highlights.  All other entries will also be considered for purchase by Highlights.

For submission address and all rules, visit the Contest web page.


August 19, 2014

Call for Manuscripts: Appleseeds and Pockets

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:36 am
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Submissions AppleseedsHiSubmissions Pockets Everyone,

Two different theme-based calls for submissions.

The first is from Appleseeds.   As you know, Appleseeds is part of the Cricket group.  The magazine is theme based and one of the upcoming themes is still open for submissions.  The July/August 2015 issue will be titled Check Mate: Chess and Other Games.  This issue isn’t just about the games themselves but also about the people who play, win and make them.  The query deadline is 10/1/2014.

Feature articles run from 1 to 4 pages and include nonfiction, interviews and how-tos.  There are also a wide range of departments to explore.  Here is the list that I got from the guidelines:

  • Fun Stuff (games or activities)
  • By the Numbers (math activities)
  • Where in the World (map activities)
  • Your Turn (opportunities for children to take action)
  • Experts in Action (short profile of professionals)
  • The Artist’s Eye (fine or folk art)
  • From the Source (primary sources)

Before you submit to this publication, be sure to read the full guidelines.

The other call is from Pockets magazine which is owned by the Upper Room.

Their first open theme is Hope with a deadline of 09/01/2014.  This is an Easter based theme and will focus on how the knowing of a loving God helps us hope in spite of situations that appear hopeless.

The second theme is Family Challenges with a deadline of 10/01/2014.  The purpose of this theme is too look at the challenges that families face, including scheduling, siblings, rules and more.

Pockets publishes fiction and nonfiction from 600 to 1000 words.  These pieces should deal with situations faced by young readers.  Avoid talking animals and objects.  Biblically based stories must remain faithful to the Biblical account.  Poems should be 20 lines or less and either seasonal or related to the theme.

See their guidelines here. Good luck sending in your work!




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