Subject: [Children's Writing Update] The Best Way to Find a Literary Agent







The Children's Writing Update 

edited by Jon Bard



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1.     Exclusive Video Reveals the Insider's Method of Finding a Literary Agent



Being represented by a dedicated literary agent can make a huge difference in a writer's career.  But there's a rub:  it's tough to find agents who are accepting new clients and even tougher to get their attention.

Fear not!  We've put together a video exclusively for Updaters that reveals a very cool technique for identifying and connecting with top literary agents.  This is definitely not the 'same old stuff". It's something every writer should see...


Here's the link:

(If you like the video, feel free to share it with your Facebook, Twitter and other online writing pals.)


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2.  If You Write for Young Adults, You Need to Meet Audrey!


CBI's newest Contributing Editor is a smart, insightful and gifted writer.  She's 13 year old Audrey, a Californian who, along with her equally sharp friends, will provide a glimpse into the reading habits and preferences of today's teenager.

Audrey's started things off with a bang, with a fantastic post called The YA View: What We Like in Our Books (and What We Don’t) It's a tremendously entertaining post that gets right to the point.  Here's a sample:

Also, the name Damien/Damon/Damion/etc. for the bad-boy love interest irks me. If I read this line ever again—But when she arrives at the Academy, danger is waiting for her, in the form the darkly passionate Damien.—I think I shall die. 


We've already heard from a few YA writers who have told us they've had to go back and revise their manuscripts based on the knowledge they picked up from this post. It's that good.  And Audrey's only just getting started!


Here's the link


Note: When you go to check out Audrey's post, you'll notice that we've completely redesigned the WriteKids! blog, and we've committed to adding new content on a regular basis.  Visit and see for yourself!



3.  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!


4. What's in November'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 November issue of Children's Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children's Writers:

Market Tips:

► Two Literary Agencies Accepting Submissions
Publisher Seeks Middle Grade/YA Historical Fiction
Highlights for Children Magazine's Current Needs
Educational Publisher Accepting Queries from Qualified Authors

In-depth Articles:

How to Tell If There's a Market for Your Nonfiction Book
Award-Winning Author Kathleen Duey's  Series-Writing Secrets
Creating Strong Adult Characters in Picture Books
Sprinkle the Details Through Historical Fiction
Turn Rejection Into Opportunity: How to Decode a Rejection Letter

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




5. Write a Marketable Children's Book in 7 Weeks - Our Exclusive Interview With the Authors

  Write a Marketable Children's Book In 7 Weeks


As you might imagine, we get many press releases and review copies of "how to" books for children's writers.  Most are "just OK", but once in a rare while we see a real winner and decide to add it to our product line.  And this is most certainly one of them.

Write a Marketable Children's Book in 7 Weeks does exactly what the title promises: it breaks down the daunting task of crafting a children's book into seven thoughtfully designed chunks.  It's so wonderfully simple and well-planned our first reaction was "Why didn't we think of this?"  :)

The link to get this essential book is:

But first, check out our exclusive interview with the book's authors, Shirley Raye Redmond and Jennifer McKerley.  Shirley and Jennifer have used this approach themselves to write over 30 published books, and say it works for all manuscripts from picture books through middle grade, fiction and nonfiction. 

Your book takes a very straightforward, step-by-step approach to writing  fiction. Does this leave room for inspiration and creativity?

Shirley Raye: I think the creativity and inspiration are already there before someone would even be interested in or have need of our workbook. We’re just helping the writer with the production and packaging of her creative idea so that it can be brought to complete fruition and appeal to an editor.
Jennifer: Jane Yolen, the famous author, said, “To write 30 books or 300 books or 3 books? BIC. Butt in chair. Every day.” Creativity and inspiration play a big part in writing, but not as big a part as just doing it. We want those who dream of writing to bite the bullet and get a complete manuscript finished. We know it is an empowering feeling, and if they keep writing, they’ll learn that the writing habit itself triggers inspiration and creativity.

You emphasize studying the market and plotting out a book before      beginning to write. What pitfalls might an author avoid by working this way?

Shirley Raye: When traveling some place you’ve never been before, it’s easy to get lost when you don’t have a road map or a reliable GPS.  It’s the same for a new writer on the road to publication.  One can get lost, bogged down with saggy middles, bumpy transitions, and a wimpy plot with inadequate action and no conflict resolution.
By studying the market, the new writer will have an idea which publishing houses might be interested in the completed manuscript and what writing conferences to attend, should editors from those publishing houses be on the program. Why spend 7 weeks writing the world’s best chapter book, and then submit it to a publishing firm that only buys picture books? Know where you’re going!
Jennifer: Plotting and planning help the writer see what’s missing—in the storyline for fiction or in the narrative arc for nonfiction. It helps the writer know where to add tension or peak interest points.  
Concerning studying the market, if a someone researches and discovers the market is saturated with books too much like what she wanted to write, she can go on to another good idea and not waste her time. So we recommend knowing what’s out there. We also recommend reading many books like the one someone wants to write—which provides an indispensable education in the skills of writing.

You propose spending 15 hours per week for seven weeks to create a book. You set aside Weeks 3-5 for the actual writing of five pages per day. I can certainly see a picture book getting written in this time, with  plenty of time to revise, but is this realistic for a novel? At about two hours of writing a day, I can see a rough five pages being created, but what about rewriting?
Jennifer: In our workbook, we recommend that people start off using our plan for nothing longer than a 25,000-word middle grade novel. Our method does require quick revisions, but if someone feels they need more time to polish, they certainly should do that. However, we also encourage them not to take forever to send in their manuscript. Our goal is to get people writing and finishing whole projects—not dreaming and starting and then stopping when they hit a snag and never finishing.
Shirley Raye: I actually wrote my first romantic suspense novel (50,000 words) in 6 weeks using this same plan, along with my first juvenile novel,Grampa and the Ghost (which later became a Weekly Reader selection), a Nancy Drew mystery, and all my nonfiction chapter books for Gale/Cengage using this timeline. When I had the additional hours in the afternoons (when the baby was napping, for instance), I just kept writing. That’s the main thing. Write, write, write during the writing weeks. Get it all down on paper. Anne Lamont calls it, “the shitty first draft.” But then it’s done, and you can later revise with total concentration. The plan works!

Does your program allow for feedback, such as input from critique groups? If so, how much time should be allotted for these possible revisions?
Shirley Raye: Writers can get bogged down in revising endlessly based on the subjective whims of a critique group. Others, after reading an opening chapter or two, get discouraged by remarks from their colleagues and never finish the manuscript. I recommend one NOT share the work-in-progress with a critique group until the first draft is done.
Jennifer: Our method does not allot a specific time slot for critiquing by others. Critique groups can be helpful, but we have also learned that the best teacher is DOING and DOING over and over. One danger of waiting and relying on feedback from others is that some people never move on. If someone using our method wants feedback from others, he should ask one or two people to read the finished manuscript and then set a deadline of one or two extra weeks to incorporate what he decides to use from the feedback.

You mention that it's actually easier for a new author to break into publishing with nonfiction. Can your program be used to create nonfiction books as well?
Jennifer: In the workbook, we apply our method to fiction and nonfiction, and we give specific tips on producing exciting nonfiction. I used this method to write all of my nonfiction and fiction titles.  

Shirley Raye: Yes, the plan is perfect for writing nonfiction, and we spend considerable time in the workbook going over the writing and marketing of a nonfiction manuscript. In fact, most of my book titles (and certainly all the ones that have sold over 150,000 copies each) have been nonfiction.

Any final advice for new writers?
Shirley Raye: The key word here is accommodate. Do you actually schedule your writing time? Or is it a hit-or-miss event? Do you plan to go TV-less one or two nights a week? When you do plop down in front of the television, do you do so purposefully or mindlessly? Television viewing is one of the most distracting time-wasters that writers must avoid. Exercise your willpower. Resolve to write instead.  
Jennifer: Don’t wait to be inspired. Don’t wait for the “muse.” Film critic Roger Ebert told an audience of would-be filmmakers and musicians, "The muse never shows up at the beginning." Creativity begets creativity. You have to put yourself in gear and write the best story you can at the time. You will get better and better the more you do it. That’s a promise.

As you mentioned, our workbook offers a straightforward, step-by-step approach. Our plan emphasizes persistence not speed. We provide a simple plan that does not overwhelm, but that encourages, guides, and shows a beginning writer how to steadily reach writing dreams.


 You can order your copy of Write a Marketable Children's Book in 7 Weeks right now by going to:

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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.

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November 3, 2010

Children's Writing

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