A Writer's Resolution: I Will Submit!
by Eugie Foster

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The start of a new year is a time for resolutions, and it is the rare writer who isn't wrestling with some elusive, as-of-yet unrealized goal: this year I will produce a story a week, never miss a deadline, finish that epic novel, and top the New York Times bestseller list. Whether we keep these well-intentioned objectives or forget them in a week's time, it's inevitable that as the old year draws to a close, we hanker to brush off the detritus of the past and look to the future as a chance for improvement, change, and a fresh beginning.

There are a myriad of reasons why people are compelled to write. Some are content to get their stories on the page, freeing the words clamoring in their head without need for external validation or an audience. Others glean all the readership satisfaction they require from sharing their works with family or friends. But many crave publication and the knowledge that they have reached a wider audience. Often, children's writers especially yearn for publication because unlike works geared toward grown-up peers, the true culmination of these efforts is having youngsters enjoy our carefully wrought tales.

But it can be intimidating moving from the safety of penning stories for only yourself or a circle of loved ones (who have a vested interest in not hurting your feelings) to putting your creative efforts before a stranger to evaluate. The prospect of rejection is a daunting one, and it's sometimes hard to remember that when an editor or agent sends a rejection, they aren't judging or rejecting you, the writer, but only a manuscript.

Fortunately, a great balm to a writer's ego is learning how to keep the creative aspects of writing distinct from the marketing and business ones. For children's writers who have resolved for this new year -- I will submit! -- here's a coldly analytical approach to marketing in three steps to help you realize your resolution:

Step 1: Establish your priorities.

After writing the best story you can -- polished prose, tight pacing, and clean of typos and errors -- decide whether you want to submit it to magazines/ezines, book publishers, or agents.

Magazines and ezines take unsolicited submissions, are open to new writers, and don't require that work be submitted by an agent. Book publishers vary in size, distribution, and the amount of advance paid. Many children's book publishers take work over the transom, especially picture book manuscripts, although many require submissions be through an agent.

Criteria to consider:

Step 2: Identifying appropriate markets.

Establishing your marketing priorities allows you to sort through the various markets and come up with an action plan for places to submit your manuscript. There are several print market listings for children's publishers such as Children's Writers & Illustrators Market (CWIM) published by Writer's Digest Books, [an error occurred while processing this directive]Book Markets for Children's Writers and [an error occurred while processing this directive]Magazine Markets for Children's Writers published by Writer's Institute Publications, and Writer's & Illustrator's Guide to Children's Book Publishers and Agents: Who They Are! What They Want! And How to Win Them Over! published by Three Rivers Press. While good resources, writers can expect to pay around $20 for them, and they are updated, at best, only annually.

However, the publishing industry is a volatile one; editors leave, publishing houses split and consolidate imprints, merge, and move their headquarters, magazines have reading dates and changing themes, and semi-pro markets pop up and close with little notice. With the lag between information acquisition and publication, the content in paper market listings can be out-of-date by the time they hit the bookstore. As such, the Internet is a writer's best resource for current listings, and most online market information is free.

Study guidelines carefully before submitting to ensure that a publication's target age range, themes, and word count are a good match with your manuscript. You may also want to read sample copies in order to get a better idea of the kind of material a market publishes. Be aware that some editors ask that writers vary from standard manuscript formatting and some magazines have reading dates. And if you're sending a paper submission, don't forget your self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE). Likewise, markets that accept electronic submission may ask for file attachments or text pasted into the body of an email. Don't risk sparking an editor's ire, always follow guidelines to the letter.

Step 3: Send it out and keep it out.

Once you have a list of appropriate submission markets for your story, package it up (or create that email), and send it out. When the rejections come in, as they will, don't fixate on them. Get that manuscript back out! Check your list for the next market, make up a new submission packet, and dump it back in the mailbox (or editor's inbasket) that very day. And if the waiting gets torturous, cure those empty mailbox blues by writing another story.

Remember, in the publishing game, you can't win if you don't play. So write, submit, and have a happy New Year!

Helpful Sites:

The Children's Literature Web Guide - Children's Publishers

The Children's Literature Web Guide - Booksellers on the Internet

Eugie Foster's Children's Markets listing

Write4Kids.com Children's Writers Marketplace

Copyright © 2007 Eugie Foster
This article may not be reprinted without the author's written permission.

Eugie Foster is a short-fiction writer specializing in genre and children's literature. She has sold more than a dozen stories to the Cricket Magazine Group, including Spider, Cricket and Cicada, as well as to an assortment of other children's magazines including Dragonfly Spirit and Story Station. She holds an M.A. in developmental psychology, has co-authored a textbook on child development, and is a frequent speaker at Dragon*Con's Young Adult Literature Track. She is a member of the SFWA and managing editor of Tangent (http://www.tangentonline.com). Foster maintains a list of children's SF/F magazine markets at her website, http://www.eugiefoster.com.


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