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The next Children's Writer's World post will be on June 15th.

July 31, 2014

Re-submitting

We all want second and even third chances of trying to succeed.  But when it comes to revising a manuscript, a writer may only have one more chance to get it right. 

I believe everyone deserves to know why a story or an article is not ready for publication. Generally, if I see a manuscript for Kid's Imagination Train that has promise and needs a little editing, I’ll point out the areas which need attention.  For example, I might suggest getting closer to the expected word count, or finding another research source, or presenting the conflict earlier.  These are things a writer can easily fix.  I’ll send an email offering to read the revision.  Most writers are eager to comply to perfect their work.

But sometimes, the issue is the mood of the story.  Kid's Imagination Train does not accept violent or scary stories.  If we receive stories such as these, we still offer a chance to revise.  In some cases, writers will re-work the story and the revision will be accepted. 

Other times, writers refuse to make significant changes.  They re-submit the same story, but with fewer words. When this happens, their work will not be accepted.  I will tell them why:  KIT publishes whimsical, upbeat stories.  Yet a few writers can't accept the fact that their story has been rejected.  They want another chance.  They even feel entitled to send multiple unsolicited revisions. 

Sending a revision without an editor's invitation is discourteous and unprofessional. Many writers may never know the reason why a piece is rejected. Even fewer get an opportunity for a revision.  So receiving an editor’s opinion and getting a chance to edit is rare.  If however, an editor indicates that she must pass on the submission after seeing a revision, then writers have two choices.  They can either send the editor a new story that better fits her needs or they can find another market that accepts pieces similar to the story they have written.   
















July 14, 2014

Tips for Writing and Publishing Nonfiction for Children

I love reading nonfiction submissions for Kid's Imagination Train.  Recently, I received an article that needed a little editing before it could be accepted for publication.  This piece inspired me to make a list of some common submission problems and ways to fix them.

1.  Problem:  A weak beginning.
     Fix:  Start with a fascinating hook.  It can be an unusual fact, an amazing statistic,
     an entertaining anecdote, or an interesting quote.

2.  Problem:  Starting every paragraph with the same word.
     Fix:  Use prepositional clauses to begin some sentences.

3.  Problem:  Misspelled words.
     Fix:  Use spell check, but watch out for homonyms.

4.  Problem:  Failure to group similar ideas together.
     Fix:  Outline and organize your article before you begin to write.

5.  Problem:  Misuse of contractions:
     Fix:  The word "it's" is the contraction for "it is."  The word "its" is a possessive.

6.  Problem:  Improper formatted bibliography; unreliable sources.
     Fix:  Alphabetize the bibliography. Refer to examples in The Chicago Manual of Style.        Aim for primary sources.

7.  Problem:  Writing like an encyclopedia article.
     Fix:  Keep the writing light and lively.  When using a simile, make the comparison
     relevant to the age group for which you are writing.

8.  Problem: Failure to edit.
     Fix:  Read your work multiple times.  Have a trusted friend also read your work before        you submit. Don't expect an expert to catch all of your mistakes.

9.  Problem: Submitting without a cover letter.  Forgetting to include contact information.
     Fix:  Always include a brief cover letter with your submission.  Make sure it has your            home address and email.

10. Problem:  Exceeds word count
      Fix:  Keep to the specified word count as noted in the writer's guidelines. Some  editors don't mind if word counts exceeds by fifty words; going over by one hundred words might be pushing your luck.

Though an editor probably would not reject a manuscript without a cover letter, it is considered polite and professional to include one. Most editors however, may reject manuscripts that contain any of the other problems mentioned above. They usually don't have time to correct a manuscript.

Writing nonfiction for children is challenging—there are so many things to consider.  But you can increase your odds of publication when you avoid these ten common mistakes.




July 3, 2014

Scary stories

What kind of stories do you write for children?  Are they funny or whimsical?  Do they have a happy ending? These are the kinds of stories that Kid's Imagination Train likes to publish.  

Every now and then, a few writers submit scary stories.  Though there are markets for these kind of stories, they just aren't right for KIT.  We publish for a young audience—our lower age group is five-years old.  Children of this age 
have not learned how to express their fears verbally and because of this, we may never be sure of the impact of scary stories. 

Young children may however, send other clues or signals to indicate that they have been frightened.  For instance, years ago my husband and I could not figure out why our four-year old daughter suddenly became afraid to go to sleep by herself.  She needed one of us in her room every night.  After a few weeks of this behavior, I talked to Sister Marsha, one of my daughter's teachers.  Marcia asked if we allowed our daughter to watch a scary movie or television program.  I remembered that the three of us had watched the classic The Wizard of Oz, but we had fast-forwarded through the frightening scenes.  

“There’s your answer,” said Sister Marcia.  


While our young daughter seemed to enjoy the movie, it had actually scared her. And, we were clueless. She simply couldn't express her fears to us. 
   
Though this personal episode is about a movie not a story, l always think about it whenever scary fiction is submitted to KIT.  If you are writing for very young children, I would suggest staying away from scary and save it for the older kids.  Instead, focus on creating an upbeat story. Give it a positive message and end it on a cheerful note.        

Take a look at the July issue of Kid's Imagination Train:  www.kidsimaginationtrain.com