The journey to having my first novel for children published has been riddled with road blocks and shonky bridges. The good news? At every rickety stage I've picked up tips (and anti-tips) which I'm happy to share with everyone...
For me, this was the easy stage! Aspiring writers need to read like maniacs to be aware of other writers' work, both locally and internationally. There is no point writing a killer story if it resembles something already published. Sadly, that means no scar-faced teen wizards named Barry.
Here's a simple equation: the more you write, the better you become at writing. By the time I was ready to be born I'd already completed my first three manuscripts (spent most of the time looking around for somewhere to plug in my laptop). When the doctor smacked me on the backside I squinted at him and went, 'Waaah!' Which of course meant, 'Ah, you must be my agent!' I went on to scrawl home-made comics throughout my childhood before I began writing for surf magazines at age 17. Since then, I've had thousands of articles and pieces of fiction published. A lot were 'hack' stories; a few won me awards and contests. All helped build my writing skills and voice.
A local teacher read my first manuscript to his class (thank you, Bob Swoope). The feedback was terrific. One kid enthused, "It's just like Harry Potter, only funnier!" I dined off that compliment for a month.
I'm lucky ten year olds believe payment in Paddle Pops is the industry standard for editors, else I'd be broke by now (well, actually I am broke). I read all my stories to my daughter, her friends, and any young relatives I can bail up. Whenever my juvenile focus groups wander off to the nearest TV, I know the chapter I'm reading needs major reconstruction. Whenever the kids sit glued to their chairs and demand more, I know my story is heading in the right direction (and I've bought the right glue and Paddle Pops).
It's useful to let adults rip into your story as well. Adult writers, that is. I've learned it's best to avoid family members and friends, unless you enjoy making these people flee whenever they see you. Join a local or online critique group instead. Growing elephant-thick skin will also help you through this stage.
Finally, you think your book is ready. It isn't. Time to let the manuscript breathe for a month, before revising it with fresh eyes. Be ruthless. Hack those excess adjectives that editors loathe. Delete every scene that does not sparkle, advance the plot on multiple levels and compel the reader to keep reading.
As a writer for children, you're not only competing against the mutant slush pile from Hell and other kid's books, but against the internet, computer games and 24 hour cartoon networks. Remember: the modern kid is smarter, more savvy and easily bored than any generation before.
Crunch time. When you submit your first manuscript, get stuck straight into writing the second. When your manuscript returns unloved, send another submission out on the same day (or even better, send two). For every five rejections, rewrite. Never surrender.
Over the course of several months, I sent my manuscript to every agent in the country. They all rejected until I was dejected. So I directly targeted publishers instead. I almost fell out of my computer chair when the second one immediately replied. The wonderful Ibis Publishing of Melbourne liked my story so much, they asked me to commit to writing two more in the same series. Truth is, to be published, I would have committed to writing a sequel naked in a bubble in the middle of Pitt Street. Luckily, they didn't. But I still have my bubble.
Over a year has gone by since my book was accepted. My patient editor Belinda Bolliger has driven me through two more rewrites to add backstory, cull my ellipsis fever and tone down my more extreme jokes. My major character has become less obnoxious and had a sex change from girl to boy. Why? Apparently, girls will read about boys; but boys aren't happy reading about girls.
I originally named my book after the planet of talking horses and mutant chooks at the centre of my story. However, Uponia (too strange) was changed to Planet Horse Fart (too rude) to ZAPP to Planet Horse (too horsey) to Raz James and The Amazing ZAPP Discovery (too vague) to Erasmus James and the Galactic ZAPP Machine (too... wait, that's it!).
The cover art has changed almost as many times while the date of publication has been put back from last Christmas to May to June to September. Fingers crossed on that last one!
It is vital to remain flexible and positive through such changes and delays. Yoga helps. Better to get everything right than to rush out an inferior product. The extra time has also given me time to set up a website, work out a battle plan with the Ibis marketing team Anthony and Paola and watch my hair turn even more grey. Meanwhile, my bank account has nose-dived, but who really needs fancy mod-cons like electricity and food?
On the road
Last month I drove to Sydney to psyche up the Pan Macmillan sales team. I delivered a ten minute standup comedy routine and was as surprised as anyone when the friendly team laughed at my feeble jokes and seemed enthused about selling my book. On the long drive home, I realised this would be but the first of many such promotional trips: to schools, book signings, anything and everything that will help me sell a few more copies and keep doing what I love so much. Then the rain began to bucket and my front tyre blew out. As I bounced into the bush, I realised I was about to experience another first on the scenic detour known as Publication Road.
DC GREEN BIO
DC Green is the author of the soon-to-be-published 'Erasmus James and the Galactic ZAPP Machine', a funny and action-packed tale of friendship, intergalactic zapping, flatulent horses, environmental havoc and bus-sized chooks. An award-winning fiction and non-fiction writer, DC used to travel the world for surf magazines, mainly because he couldn't afford his own air tickets. He lives on the NSW South Coast of Australia with one slightly crazy daughter and three very crazy cats.
Check out DC's stories at: http://dcgreenyarns.blogspot.com/
Buy 'Erasmus James and the Galactic ZAPP Machine' at Bookmark Australia: http://www.bookmarkaustralia.com.au/
Arouse Your Short Story And See It Published
Are you ready to abandon your short stories? Before you toss your newest story in the trash, revisit it using many of the same guidelines editors keep in mind when they review your work. If you follow these guidelines, you will be many steps closer to placing your short story in a well-known literary journal.
Writing the 8 WebCopy Headline Categories
My article this issue is an excerpt from a book I was readingrecently titled; The Copywriters Handbook by Robert Bly, asecondary small niche I focus on a bit. It categorizes thedifferent types of headlines which are most common and in usetoday.
Writing with a Sense of Adventure
We've all been told that we need to use all five senses to bring our fiction to life. Sight, sound, smell, taste and touch all need to be invoked. But there's one other sense that also needs to be used: the sense of adventure.
Learn How To Write Poetry!
A poet isn't born; you must work at crafting your art. If you have the desire to write, you can learn how to write poetry or simply improve your writing. I had no formal training as a poet, and have been published in many print and online publications without ever having to take a workshop or a writing course. You too can learn to write poetry by following these basic rules.
Just about everyone is familiar with this beginning: "In the beginning God created the heavens and earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep . . ." (Genesis 1: 1-2 RSV) In a sense we're playing God when we write a story. We create the characters, plot, and setting, turning a blank page-nothingness-into a compelling story.
Becoming a Writer
The urge to write fiction seems God given for some, a learned skill for others.
The Work Flow Cycle of the Editorial Industry
As an editorial professional, I'm sure you're aware of the market slump right now. What you may not be aware of is that this is due to more than just the economy.
Have You Completed A Character Questionnaire?
Creative Writing Tips ?
Get Creative In The Great Outdoors
Summer's here and the time is write for dancing in the streets...
Ten Quick Tips for Inexperienced Writers
One of the biggest problems that inexperienced writers have is simply knowing how to get started. If you've unsure of your writing skills, then here are some quick tips to help you get started.
Screenwriting ? The Value of Structure
Structure in the form of frameworks, work processes and goals enhances creative output:
Boost Your Income With Trade Journals
Why would anyone want to write for trade journals? Aren't the topics are dry? Don't they require specialized knowledge? Not necessarily. You may want to consider trade journals to increase the potential market for your articles ? and for the money. Trade publications make up a significant portion of the hidden source of funds for professional writers. Breaking in can be surprisingly easy ? when you know the tricks.
Does Each Element of Your Story Further The Theme?
Creative Writing Tips ?
Why We Dont Write Our Books
In the ten years that I've taught people how to get on with their books, I've noticed a phenomenon that I'll call "Author's Block." Would-be writers can, indeed, sit down and work when pressed to it. The problem is that they're not so sure they want the pressure of being an author. But they do want to. But they don't. And so on.
Top Ten Writing Mistakes Made By New Childrens Writers
Okay. So I'm not David Letterman. But I doubt if he'd know much about the top 10 mistakes made by new children's writers anyway. I, on the other hand, read from 10 to 20 manuscripts for children every week (I'm not bragging - I'm just an instructor with the Institute of Children's Literature). While many of the stories I read are destined for publication, I find that 10 common mistakes crop up again and again in the other manuscripts I edit each week.
Writing With Power: 5 Snappy Rules For Success
Almost everyone could profit from enhancing their writing skills. From writing more crisp meta-tags ? which search engine bots find quite sexy ? to turbo-charging your blog readership by writing with punch, a skilled pen can propel any online effort in the right direction. But who has the time, money or know-how to tackle this daunting task, right? On the contrary, I have just the free and powerful writing clinic for you. We have named it "Writing With Power." And did I mention it's free?
Get Published: The Nuts and Bolts of Good English, and How to Impress a Publisher (1)
Not all writers write good grammar. That's a fact. It's no big deal. Well, mostly it's no big deal. As a freelance books editor, I've seen hundreds of books whose authors cannot produce decent grammar and punctuation. I do it for them. I'm paid to do that -- mostly by the hour.
Hero?s Journey ? The First Threshold
Beyond three and four act story structure, lies the Hero's Journey.
Call Yourself a Writer? Where Are Your Notes?
Writers are notorious collectors of slips of paper. They tear articles from magazines in the doctor's waiting room; they rip corners off newspapers in friend's houses because they need to write down something witty; and they stuff their bags and pockets with serviettes, cigarette packs, and discarded train tickets just because note making's second nature to them.
Getting To Know Your Characters
Interesting characters that readers care about are the most important 'ingredients' in your novel.
|© Athifea Distribution LLC - 2013|