Monday, August 31, 2009

5 tips, 5 goofs, submitting to Egmont, and changes in children's publishing

ELIZABETH LAW—Five Tips, Five Goofs to Avoid, and a Bit About Egmont

5 goofs to avoid:
1) Writing something you don’t like or something you’re not good at.
--Write what’s real, not what you think will sell. Do what your strength is, and don’t try to write to the market. *Pay attention to the feedback you receive (from critters, etc.) about what your strength is. It may not be what you think.

2) Spending too much money hoping to make your book big, instead of just writing a good book and going from there.
--She gave an example involving a story about a whale who spurts emotions from his blowhole, or something like that (hi-larious, by the by), with the moral basically being: you shouldn't make a product line based around the characters in your book until you have a good book that sells. T-shirts advertising your whale do not a good book make.

3) Changing the age of the MC to try to fit into something popular.
--e.g., making your middle grade story young adult b/c it's popular right now

4) Not talking to your agent/editor enough.
--Be as organized and helpful to the person on the other end as possible, but don’t use this as an excuse to not ask questions. Be courteous of the time taken, but don't be afraid to ask questions.

5) Not taking your career into your own hands.
--This plays off of #4. You have to be involved.
--Be short, polite, and respectful, but ultimately, your career is up to you.
--Follow up with an agent/editor if they have your MS and you haven’t heard back from them in about 12 weeks. if an exclusive was requested, write back w/in 4’ish months to advise you’re sending the MS on to others, but will withdraw it if you hear back from them.

5 tips:
1) Social networking
--Start early
--Publishers are “enormously interested in social networking to reach readers directly.”
--Network, but don’t let social networking keep you from writing and/or submitting your work.
--Join critique groups.
--Get in the game. Take control of your own life/career.

2) Have a story to go along with a good voice.
--Both voice and story are important.
--Voice, on its own, isn't enough, no matter how good or unique it is. There must be something the characters work out (i.e., a story).

3) Do what you do well and feel strongly about—don’t write to the market.
--Pay attention to the positive feedback you receive--listen to what other people tell you you're good at, b/c it may not be what you think--rather than trying to be something you’re not.
--It’s not necessarily a bad thing to not know what other books yours is like. If it’s good, people will read it and advocate for it, which will lead others to read it and advocate for it.

4) Follow up (with agents/editors) on your work.

5) Don’t complain to professionals.
--“The nicer you are, the guiltier we feel.” (For when they haven’t replied to you yet.)

A bit about Egmont:
--It’s like the new Bloomsbusy/Candlewick; finally coming into America.
--Focuses exclusively on children’s books.
--In America, Egmont is doing a viable trade list—15 books are coming out this fall, 13 of them from America
--All profits of the company go to a Scandinavian charity (not-for-profit corporation), but they take their work very seriously. Finding good writers is what they believe in.
--The books they acquire are ones that they can say, "I understand why children would read this."
--There are 3 editors in the company + an assistant and interns.
--Examples of Egmont books:
...Julia Keller – Back Home
...Pam Bachorz – Candor
...Allen Zerdoff – Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have
...Lindsay Eland – Scones and Sensibility
...Bree Despain – The Dark Divine
...Alexandra Bruckin – Brightly Woven
...David Patneaude – Epitaph Road

Submitting to Egmont:
--Submit electronically
--What Egmont is looking for: specifically looking for good MG and heartwarming chapter books. Also reps YA—Egmont has a lot of books with yearning on the list; also loves humor. Not doing much PBs, but those with a purpose (e.g., those teaching something) will be considered. Non-fiction that ties into an event (e.g., the Olympics or a holiday) get better store coverage than others.
--submit to:

ELIZABETH LAW—From Johnny Tremain to Edward Cullen: How Children’s Publishing is Changing, and How to Meet the Challenges Head-on

--Children’s books are the stable and/or growing area of publishing.
--*YA hardcover is growing.
--Look at Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games for a good book on pacing. Suzanne is great at economical writing.
--Changes in recent years = books are now more overtly sexual for teenagers
--*Tip: Don’t read others’ work to find out what the authors do, Read to immerse yourself in the characters, which will inspire you to write better.


storyqueen said...

More good stuff!!

Thanks, Jess.


MeganRebekah said...

Awesome notes here!

And I'm posting about Suzanne Collins tomorrow. Her pace and story and writing and charactization are just amazing!!!

Catching Fire comes out tomorrow! Yay!

Lisa and Laura said...

Oh gosh, she sounds amazing. Dear Egmont, Please publish our book. XOXO, LiLa

Little Ms J said...

Do you take shorthand or are you really this gifted? Great notes, lady.

jessjordan said...

Shelley: You're welcome!

Megan: Yay! I (sadly) haven't read the Hunger Games yet, but I've heard amazing things about it. It's definitely on my must read list.

LiLa: I thought the same thing. I wanted to run up and hug her and give her my MS. Except, well, that's considered bad manners.

LMJ: Shorthand? Puh-lease. I seriously thought my fingers were going to fall off by the end of the whole thing. I haven't written that much in ages. Now, give me a laptop, and I'll show you *real* notetaking! Unfortunately, mine's the size of a watermelon, and I didn't feel like hauling it around everywhere. All things considered, I didn't fair too poorly :)

Abby said...

More great info!! Thanks!