August 6, 2012

Give an Editor Your Very Best

You've written a great picture book story.  You've had it reviewed by a writing partner or by a critique group.  Are you ready to submit it to a publisher?  Probably not yet.  Your work must be carefully edited.  Everything has to be just right.  You must use good grammar and have no punctuation mistakes.  Your story must have good pacing, sound structure, and a unique plot.  The story arc should blend voice and characterization with strong writing.  

If you’ve met these goals, you’re probably ready to approach a publisher.  But if you’re not sure if your manuscript is good enough to submit, you might need to invest a little money and time.  Here are four ways to help you improve your manuscript before you send it to a publisher:   

1. Invest in grammar books like The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E. B. White and a thesaurus like The Children’s Writer’s Word Book by Alijandra Mogilner.

2. Take classes that focus on writing for children, either locally or online.  Writer’s Digest offers some amazing webinars.

3. Read books about the craft of writing for children. For starters, check out Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul.

4. Familiarize yourself with books that you’d like to write.  Read them for enjoyment, to be inspired and to help you hone your craft.

Editors are looking for your best work.  They expect you to carefully edit and proofread your submission.  They expect you to submit a piece that is free of grammatical and spelling errors. Most editors maintain that manuscripts with punctuation and spelling errors, or otherwise poorly written or edited submissions will not be considered. 

Unless you have a special relationship with an editor who is willing to help you revise your manuscript, it’s up to you to edit your work.  So learn as much as you can about the craft of writing for children.  Be patience and persevere.  Then give an editor your very best.

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