Subject: [Children's Writing Update] How to Find a Writing Job - Fast!



The Children's Writing Update

edited by Jon Bard


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1.  A Gift For You:  Download "The Ultimate Editing Checklist" Now!


 I've Written a Story.  What Do I Do Now? is our #1 best-selling eBook. It  gives step-by-step instructions about the best way to polish your manuscript to perfection and send it off to publishers.

 For those of you who haven't seen the eBook yet, we wanted to give you a free taste.  Right now, you can download the eBook's first chapter --   "The Ultimate Editing Checklist".  It will take you through every age level of children's book and help you identify any problems your story may have.  This isn't theoretical wishy-washy stuff -- it's right to the point and really, really powerful.

And it's our gift to you!

There's zero catch - this one is on us.  Here's the link!



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2.  From the CBI Vault: Great Advice From Two Legendary Children’s Book Authors


 Recently, we took the opportunity to look back at some of the many author interviews we’ve presented over the years.  What caught our eye was some of the priceless advice these authors shared with our readers.

Here are two quick — but powerful — lessons from our archives:

Judy Blume on writing from the heart (August 1990):

Judy Blume

What happened when I first started–as in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, which is the first book that was really mine–is I was just telling the stories that I knew. I knew what it was like to be in sixth grade, and to be in Margaret’s body, because that was my body. Slow growing, slow to develop….So that’s what I wrote about, because it wasn’t there for me when I was young.

I didn’t know if anyone would publish it, but it was from the heart. The only thing that works with writing is that you care so passionately about it yourself, that you make someone else care passionately about it. Books that are written to order are awful. It can’t work. Children will see through that and they won’t read it.

Barbara Seuling on common mistakes (December 1994):

The main character is a big one. So often beginning writers will use boy and girl twins as the main character, or use more than one main character, such as a pair of boys going off to have an adventure and you can’t pick out which one is the hero of the story. There should be one viewpoint to the book, and this rule hasn’t changed since children’s books first began. You can occasionally get away with it if you shift the focus to another character when you start a new chapter, but you have to do this very carefully. Point of view is another one. I always feel you should know how to use point of view so you can break the rules. There are a lot of cases where the rules of point of view are broken very successfully, such as in Charlotte’s Web. You can bend the rules but you have to be as good as E.B. White to do it.

There are two ways to approach talking animal characters. The big differentiation depends on the story. Either the animals have to truly be animals, or they are really kids that happen to look like animals. If you’re writing a story that just needs a substitute child, then you can decide if it’s a soft furry animal or a funny-looking animal. It’s funny to see a pig in children’s clothes, but they always have some pig-like characteristic, such as a large appetite. If you’re writing that kind of story, then it’s fine to have the animal act like humans.

In a book like Charlotte’s Web the animals were very true to their natures, and it was important that they were. Even Templeton the rat was not a sympathetic character. In a story where you’re getting close to the animal world, you need to keep animals as true to their natural selves as possible. What you don’t want is the animals doing animal-like things part of the time when it’s convenient to the story, but then at other times have hands or stand upright to talk to each other. That never works.


To read these — and many  more — CBI interviews in their entirety, check out In Their Own Words: The Best of CBI’s Interviews,







3. Free Video: Writing Jobs Online – 4 Sites to Help You Find Freelance Opportunities



It’s easier than ever to find writing jobs online.  I've put together a quick video that shows you how to use four great sites to help earn valuable experience — and a  few extra dollars!.

Here's the link:






4.  Come Hang With the Fightin' Bookworms!  



The CBI Clubhouse Fightin' Bookworms


The CBI Clubhouse is rocking!  We've got lots of new members who are meeting one another on the message boards, plenty of new videos and audios, our free children's writing course (The CBI Challenge), exclusive publishing opportunities just for our members and much more.  

And all of it is free for paid subscribers to Children's Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children's Writers!

Here's what Fightin' Bookworm Irene Roth has to say:

Before I joined the CBI Clubhouse, I was completely lost as a freelance writer. I knew that I wanted to write for kids, but I didn't have the first idea about what I should do to achieve this.

I sent out a few articles to magazines, and they all got rejected. This went on for two years. I was devastated and ready to give up! Then I was talking to a friend of mine who suggested that I check out the CBI Clubhouse.  I did. And I have never felt better in my whole life as a freelance writer.

There are weekly instructional videos by Jon Bard on different aspects of the writing process. These are invaluable. There are also videos by Laura Backes.  She has become my personal mentor. I listen to her videos every few days. Some videos I listen to over and over again.

Then there is the CBI Challenge. It is absolutely chock full of information on finding your passion in writing to the nuts and bolts of publishing. I am on Module #2 and I have learned more than I could have ever imagined.

Lastly, if you have any questions or concerns, you can email either Jon or Laura at any time. They are also willing to help and are encouraging. Finally, I don't feel so alone as a writer!

So what are you waiting for?  Join the CBI Clubhouse for a small, small fee every month. Skip one latte and you have your monthly membership which will give you a lot more value that your latte.

Join The CBI Clubhouse now (for less than the cost of a latte each month) and you'll get:

  • a fresh issue of Children's Book Insider, The Newsletter for Children's Writers
  • audio interviews with top authors
  • video tutorials about every aspect of writing and submitting children's books to publishers
  • a slew of exclusive articles
  • free ebooks
  • message boards and chatrooms 
  • The CBI Challenge -- our exclusive step-by-step children's writing course!

...and much, much more!

If you're at all serious about writing children's books and getting them published, you really need to hop on board with the Fightin' Bookworms of The CBI Clubhouse.  All the education and inspiration you need to make it is waiting for you for just pennies a day.  Plus, we have lots of fun while we're at it.

Here's the link to the Clubhouse!


See you 'round the Clubhouse, future Fightin' Bookworm!




5.  It's Never Too Late to Write 


Think you're too old to get started on your writing career?  Think again, youngster.

Want proof?  William Steig, the legendary author of such classics as  Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Abel's IslandDoctor De Soto and Shrek didn't even write his first children's book until he was 61 years of age!

Want more evidence that writing knows no age limit?  Check out this wonderful list of ten great working writers over the age of 80.



6. What's in June's Children's Book Insider?


Children's Book Insider

If you're new to the Update, you may not know that we publish a monthly subscription-only newsletter for aspiring and working children's book writers that's jam-packed with market leads, advice, inside info and much more.

It's called Children's Book Insider, and we've been sharing it with subscribers across the globe since May, 1990! (And remember, every subscriber to Children's Book Insider gets total access to the incredible CBI Clubhouse website AND The CBI Challenge step-by-step children's writing course!)


Here's a look at what's in the current issue of Children's Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children's Writers:

Market Tips:

►  Three Agents Now Accepting Submissions for New Clients
► Independent Press Accepting Picture Books, YA, and Teacher Resources
►  Social Studies Magazine Accepting Submissions for Ages 6-9
►  New Voices Award Contest Underway

In-depth Articles:

► Making the Most of a Writers' Conference
► Strategies for Breaking in to the Christian Market
► How to Write Poetry for Magazines
► How to Stay Motivated
► Creating Picture Books for Older Readers

If you enjoy the information offered in this e-mail update, wait 'til you see what we've got in store for you each month in the pages of CBI! 

A subscription to CBI and full access to the CBI Clubhouse and CBI Challenge costs about the same each month as a latte! 


For more information and to order, go to

"If you are "thinking" about subscribing, DON'T!!! Just do it. I waited for almost 2 years before I did, now I'm wondering why I waited so long"  Frederick Claus 

"I won a subscription to CBI at a conference few years ago. I've been renewing ever since -- 450 magazine and 4 book credits later! Thanks for the best information published. I rely on your newsletter!" Lorri Cardwell-Casey

"I knew if I was going to keep getting published I'd need some help so I did some research and discovered your newsletter. It seemed made to order so I ordered it! Five books and over thirty-five articles later, I'm still subscribing and finding Children's Book Insider as useful and inspiring as ever. " Lynne Stover

If you're not sure whether joining CBI is the right move, consider this: I got a book contract from a lead on the first page of my very first issue of CBI! How's that for results? Marci Mathers


7Learning to Love Conflict   


Laura Backes

by Laura Backes, Publisher of Children's Book Insider


When I first viewed the book trailer for Sarah Lamstein's Big Night for Salamanders (, I was immediately reminded how vital conflict is to any picture book. It opens with a straightforward explanation of the spotted salamanders' nighttime journey from their winter burrows to a woodland pool to mate. Then the tale takes an unexpected turn when Lamstein asks, "But what if something interrupts the salamanders' path to the vernal pool?" What began as an incident quickly turns into a story.

Watching book trailers teaches you to pinpoint the conflict in picture books (a good source for trailers is Because trailers are designed to sell the book, they must focus on the story's hook, or what makes it unique. This almost always involves the conflict. If you view several trailers you'll see that "conflict" comes in many forms: sometimes it's dramatic, sometimes (as with An Apple Pie for Dinner, retold by Susan VanHecke) it's just a little problem that needs to be creatively solved.

Since the vast majority of manuscripts I've seen during my 20 years of critiquing have been picture books, I always make it a point at writing workshops to stress how crucial conflict is in stories for young kids. And invariably, I get a few raised eyebrows. Sure, someone always asks, young adult books have conflict in spades, but picture books? Shouldn't picture books make kids feel warm and safe and loved? The real world is scary enough, so why add to that fear with books? Of course we need books that help kids feel safe and loved. Very often these are linear stories; lyrical books without a true plot that focus on a bedtime routine, the relationship between a parent and child, or that teach a concept. Since we have so many of these books already on the market, any new linear story must have a very original hook to make it publishable. A good example is Mama's Bayou by Dianne de Las Casas.

But most new writers I meet are creating stories with plots. Their books have a main character and a story arc with a beginning, middle and end. And the only way those books will ever be successful is if they have conflict. I think, for some picture book writers, it's really just a problem of semantics. "Conflict" sounds so harsh and violent. It brings to mind images of people yelling and cars exploding in the background. So instead, think if it as a problem for your character to solve, a question to be answered, a mystery to figure out, or a fear to overcome. In other words, conflict is anything that prevents your protagonist from continuing on a straight path through his day (or a salamander from following his instinctual trail to the vernal pool).

Conflict allows young children to become emotionally invested in the story. It creates drama. It means we can't guess what's going to happen until we turn the page. It forces the protagonist to rise to the occasion and be a hero. Conflict turns an ordinary, ho-hum incident (Dad got dressed for work.) into a silly situation (When Dad tried to get dressed for work, he found the new housekeeper had shrunk all his clothes to kid-size.) Conflict makes books fun.

Look at all the picture books on the market today. How many do you think have the theme "You're special"? How many stories involve moving to a new neighborhood, getting a new baby brother or sister, making a friend, or finding one's own particular talents? General book ideas get recycled every season, but the way a plot unfolds can still be fresh if the author does two things: creates a unique character, and gives that character a unique conflict.

If you're writing a picture book right now, try to imagine what the book trailer might be. Most trailers last from 30 to 90 seconds. Does your book have a unique hook that can be highlighted quickly? Is there a dramatic moment that can be pulled out and emphasized with narration or music? If not, you need more conflict. Fiction or nonfiction, the time-tested method for adding conflict to any book is to ask "What if?":

"What if?" can be embarrassing (What if Sam can't make it to school on time to get one of the best roles in the Thanksgiving play and has to be an ear of corn?)

"What if?" can be absurd (the opening line of David Small's Imogene's Antlers reads: "On Thursday, when Imogene woke up, she found she had grown antlers.")

"What if?" can be scary (What if Rebecca loses her mom in the shopping mall?)

"What if?" can be practical, like Melinda Long's Pirates Don't Change Diapers.

"What if?" can give a nonfiction book a unique twist.

The single biggest mistake writers make when developing a picture book idea is to limit their imaginations. Don't ask "What if?" five times. Ask it 50 times. Choose a conflict that's surprising and unpredictable. Choose something that gives your book a hook, your trailer a dramatic focus, and a reason for your story to be read over and over.

Want more great information just like this? Check out Children's Book Insider, The Newsletter for Children's Writers. Visit now for more info and a special offer.




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Copyright 2010, Children's Book Insider, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole, or in part, without the express written consent of the author. This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This information is provided with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or any other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the service of a competent professional should be sought. Therefore, the Author and Publisher expressly disclaim any liability for the use of any information contained herein, and this publication is provided with this understanding and none other.

Additionally, Children's Book Insider, LLC is not responsible for the availability of external sites, offers or resources mentioned in advertising or in editorial content, and does not endorse and is not responsible or liable for any content, advertising, products, special offers or other materials on or available from such sites or resources. Children's Book Insider, LLC shall not be responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with use of or reliance on any such content, goods or services available on such external sites, offers or resources.

We make every effort to verify the legitimacy of the publishers and magazines we include in our market listings. However, we assume no responsibility for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with readers' associations with such publishers. For information about investigating publishers before conducting business with them, see our special report "How to Tell If A New or Small Press is Legitimate" at

June 24, 2010

Children's Writing

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We've Got Solutions to Aid Your Resolutions!

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The Children's Writer's Big Book of How To has the solution to more than 100 of the trickiest issues faced by children's authors. From coming up with great ideas right through signing the contract, this amazing volume is packed with insight.

Have you written a story but don't know what to do next? I've Written a Story, What Do I Do Now? tells you what you need to know about submitting your manuscript to publishers efficiently and professionally.

Tired of getting rejection letters? Improving The Odds reveals the manuscript-revision secrets of top authors that help push them over the top.


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