Sunday, January 16, 2011

Thinking about new writers

Yesterday I attended the monthly local meeting of Mystery Writers of America. Without fully understanding how it happened, I'm now serving as the chapter's vice president. This is an honor, but what scares me about it is knowing that I was recommended for this position because others believed I could infuse "new energy."

You know how it goes. Complain enough and somebody eventually says, "Well, if you think you can do better, we invite you to try."

MWA is a fabulous organization, but the complaints I allude to have to do with my outspoken opinion that the organization doesn't do enough to mentor its pre-published members.

So yesterday, I voiced some of my ideas to improve that. And today it occurs to me that I may be able to do something similar here at the blog.

One fortuitous side-effect of writing has been meeting other authors. What a cool bunch of people writers are. This morning I am wondering if the readers of this blog would be interested in posing a few questions to "authors at large." I could collect feedback from some of my author friends and post it here, and that would give you an opportunity for a little insight into their writing lives and their challenges in publishing.

Any interest? If so, please post your questions in the comments. I'll collect them and return with some professional feedback to share.


  1. It is my intention to become a writer of children's books. I would like to write for children in the junior high and high school range to begin with but also picture books for the younger children as well.

    During the past summer I began doing some reflecting and journal-type writing about my internal struggles with issues rooted in my past that will likely show up in my books (those for young adults and high school students. Some of those writings might even find their way into a book for adults.

    With this in mind, I am not quite sure where to begin... Is there a "how to" list one is supposed to follow or does it vary by publisher. How do we find a publisher? Do we or can we submit our writings to more than one place at a time until we have a publisher? Any advice you can give would be great.

  2. Hi Rose,

    Young Adult and Children's books may differ, but generally, to query a work of fiction, a publisher or literary agent will want the project to be completed first. So foremost, while you are coming up to speed on the publishing process, keep writing and working on your story.

    There are many agents who specialize in YA. One who comes to mind is Kristin Nelson, who keeps a blog for new writers. The more you can learn about agents and their preferences (everybody is different), the more you will learn about publishing in general.

    Writers Digest was a great resource for me--both the website and their books. You can get a lot of their books at your local library. These will help with both the craft of writing in your genre and with demystifying the publishing process in general.

    Publishing is always changing, but my personal advice would be to pursue an agent. Publishers are more likely to consider agented submissions. There are always exceptions, and you should pursue those too. As you search, look for publishers who accept unagented submissions and for agents who are specifically seeking YA and Children's projects.

    Good luck with your writing. :)