January 27, 2014

In Today's Mail

Today, I received a letter in the mail addressed to Editor, Kid's Imagination Train (www.kidsimaginationtrain.com ). I was hoping for a great submission, but when I opened the letter, I found three pages of poems and a self-addressed stamped envelope.

There was no cover letter. 

All submissions, whether through the mail or email, should always have a short cover letter giving the title, genre, word count, and a biography.  I'm betting this author is new to submitting and doesn't understand the courtesy of a cover letter. 

The poems sent were eleven or twelve-word descriptions.  Short and poetic, yes.  But not a good fit for our magazine.  Our guidelines state that we are looking for poems that tell a story and run about 200 - 300 words.  It makes me wonder if the author read the require-ments.

Unfortunately, I will have to pass on this submission.  However, since the author included a SASE and her work was neat and properly formatted, I will write to her on how to properly submit and include a copy of our submission guidelines.  I will encourage her to follow the rules and to aim for longer poems.  I am hoping she won't give up.  Every writer deserves a chance to grow and to improve.

January 4, 2014


If you have written a picture book or middle grade novel, you probably have a particular title in mind for your work.  But be aware that if the piece is accepted for publication, the title you have chosen may be altered.  This is common in the world of publishing. 

J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book, published by Bloomsbury in London in June 1997, was actually called Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.  A year later, Scholastic published an edition for the United States market under the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  Perhaps the editors felt the word “philosopher” didn’t stress magic as much as the word “sorcerer.”  

Other famous children’s book titles have been changed. For instance, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was originally titled Mistress Mary.  Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was originally titled simply Alice.  The same holds true for adult books. The Shine became The Shining by Stephen King, Fiesta became The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingwayand Atticus became To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.   

Knowing that book titles are often changed should not make you lazy about choosing a great title for your work.  A title is the first thing editors and agents will probably consider before reading the first paragraph.  So buck up and spend time choosing a great title. Make a list of possibilities.  Imagine these titled books on a shelf.  Which one of your titles screams:  “Pick me up and read me.”  This is what you’re aiming for.  

Choose the very best title your story deserves regardless that it might be changed.  An attention-grabbing title whets the appetite of an editor or a literary agent.  It gets them in the mood to seriously consider your work.

Here’s link to see the original titles of famous books: