Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Waiting for Something Amazing to Happen aka Submitting Manuscripts

Submitting a manuscript can be hard! It can be scary to put your work out there. It can also be fun! I hear from lots of writers who are afraid to take that step. If you've done all the work; writing, critiquing, revising,more critiquing, more revising, editing ad nauseam, etc., etc., etc., and there is no more that you can possibly come up with to improve your manuscript it may be time to send out some submissions!

Be brave! When I first starting subbing I had to tell myself that it was no big deal. I would never meet this person that was reading my work (unless, of course, they liked it. Eep!) I had worked hard on my manuscripts and it was time to give them a chance. I was nervous, but I managed to get some work out there this way and I learned a lot in the process.

Now that I've had a little more experience with submissions, I see it as a challenge. It's exciting to send a story I've worked so hard on out into the world and see what comes back. Yes, this writing business can be tough, but when you have a manuscript out on submission, you never know what's going to happen. You may get a form rejection, but you may get back a letter saying how much your manuscript was liked, or a revision request, or *gasp* an offer! You are never going to experience any of those things if you don't send your manuscript out in the first place. I like to think of us writers as the kid on the tricycle from my very favorite movie of all time:

So here I am, sitting and waiting for something amazing to happen. If anyone wants to join me, there's plenty of room!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cutting Words in a Picture Book Manuscript

Chop chop! Word counts for picture books are tight. Every word has to count. Before you even think of submitting a manuscript to an agent or publisher, be sure every word makes the cut.
  • Think about what the illustrations will show. Do you really need to say that your character is sitting by a stream? (Don't be afraid to use an illustration note if you need to, but only use them if absolutely necessary!)
  • Can you say with one word (better) something that you've said in two... or three... or four?
  • Contractions! Going though your manuscript and changing they are to they're and I am to I'm, etc.,  can cut quite a few words. Of course, you don't have to contract everything contractable. Use your judgement on what sounds best in your story. Remember to watch for it is. It's it's not its!
  • Check your descriptions. Can they be tightened?
  • Are there sentences that can be combined? 
  • Can words that end in -ed be changed to -ing, omitting the pronoun?
  • Don't be afraid to go even further. Can you rid the story of any scenes, characters or dialogue? If it isn't moving the story forward get rid of it!
  • Try Twitter. It's really great for helping make one aware of cuttable words. When you're trying to fit a thought into so few characters you can really see what needs to go!

    Here are some common word offenders to be on the lookout for:
as/as they

And of course: adjectives and adverbs!

My biggest offender? The horrible! The horrifying! Just. Oh how that word seems to make it into every single one of my manuscripts.

What are your biggest offenders? I'll add them to the list!

For more on cutting your picture book manuscript read STOP! Cut Picture Book Mss by 1/3 at Darcy Pattison's blog,  and Six Steps to Make Your Children's Story Sparkle by Laura Backes.

Of course, it can be hard to see what can be changed in our own work after we've looked at it for so long. If you've done your best to cut and still have a manuscript that's too long, ask a critique partner to look at it with an eye towards cutting!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Monster List of Picture Book Agents - Natalie Fischer Lakosil of Bradford Literary Agency

Natalie Fischer Lakosil is an Assistant Agent at Bradford Literary Agency. She was formerly at Sandra Dijkstra Literary agency for four years. According to her bio she is looking for "short, quirky picture books."

You can learn a whole bunch from Natalie on her blog, Adventures in Agentland. In her post, What I Like And Why I Like It, from October 2011 she says, "The only kind of picture book I’m really looking for is along the lines of Square Cat by Elizabeth Schoonmaker – short, funny text, preferably character-driven (650 words or less) – and I’m being VERY very selective on PBs."

You can see some on Natalie's sales on her Publisher's Marketplace page.

Natalie says she does not want ABC or boy books, and gives lots of other great info in her interview at Mother. Write. Repeat.

Natalie's article, From Pitch to Sale, at Wovenmyst is about YA but you might gain some insights from it regarding her process.

Beware, I learned that she doesn't like potty humor in her interview at Beyond Words.

You can find Natalie on Linkedin and Twitter.

Natalie represents Rosanne Thong and Kitty Griffin.

This post is part of the Monster List of Picture Book Agents. If you have any changes that you think should be made to this listing, please contact me or leave them in the comments. Thanks!