Going, Going, Gone
Here’s What’s New
Word of Warning
Research/Reference Sites of the Month
For Fiction Addicts
You Can Help
Since 9/11, many Americans are turning to the things that bring them comfort—we’re eating more chocolate, buying cozy household goods and spending more time with family and friends. We’re also going back to the basics by working more with our hands. We’re taking up needlework, making crafts and building things. Of course, the magazine industry is always quick to respond to a trend. Here’s what’s new in do-it-yourself publications. (See the interview with Annie Mayne, author of the best selling “Annie” craft and cookbook series in this Market Update under Bonus Item. Among other things, Annie talks about the many opportunities for writers in the craft market because, “People are appreciating their homes and families more, and returning to the pastimes of yesteryear.”)
ReadyMade Magazine (Instructions for Everyday Life.) This magazine publishes do-it-yourself projects, how-to narratives and profiles of people who are involved in a craft or a building project. According to their guidelines for writers, this publication is “part instructional project and part editorial with off-beat themes that reflect our culture like, ‘How to Become a Famous Writer,’ ‘How to Debachelorize an Apartment’ and ‘IKEA Wants Your Body.’”
While the editors of ReadyMade ask first time writers to donate their first article, they will pay for subsequent articles relative to the author’s writing experience.
Submit your great ideas to ReadyMade Magazine in the body of an email, as a Word attachment to their email address or via mail.
Shoshana Berger, editor-in-chief
Grace Hawthorne, publisher
2824 8th St.
Berkeley, CA 94710
Simple Scrapbook was launched recently for the beginner to scrapbooking as well as the busy hobbyist who needs easy, yet creative instructions and ideas.
Stacy Julian, editor-in-chief
14901 Heritagecrest Way
Bluffdale, UT 84065
Michaels Creates is a bi-monthly magazine for crafters. It includes step-by-step directions for home decorating, fashion and gift projects for all level of crafter. Email Sparkss@krause.com for their editorial calendar.
700 E. State St.
Iola, WI 54990-0001.
Knit It! Hit the stands on Christmas Day 2001. According to the executive editor of Better Homes and Gardens Creative Collection, this will be an annual publication. Knit It! (formerly planned as Knit and Crochet) includes knit and crochet designs and projects.
Family Handyman is expanding to include a special edition called Family Handyman New Homeowner. This issue is, reportedly, designed with the woman in mind and will be distributed through real estate offices for the new homebuyer. For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Audubon Magazine emailed recently to tell me that they no longer accept queries via phone, fax or email. Send all queries the old-fashioned way to:
New York, NY 10002
Silicon2.0 has a new name. Silicon2.0, a technology-related publication, has been distributed free in the tri-counties area of Southern California for about a year. Its new title is Tri-Counties Business and Technology Review. Contact editor, Randy Workman at www.tcbizreview.com
Haven’t heard from the Copyright Office lately?
I received word in January that the U.S. Copyright Office has not been opening its mail since October due to the anthrax scare. If you’ve sent something to them recently, your manuscript may be one of the over 2.75 million pieces sitting there unread. It’s recommended that, if you have business with the Copyright Office, use private carriers or personal delivery rather than the U.S. Postal Service. For more information, see www.loc.gov/copyright.
Surveys and Experts
If you need the results of polls on popular and not so popular trends and public opinion for an article or a book you’re working on, be sure to visit www.pollingreport.com
To locate experts and authorities on practically every subject imaginable, click on www.yearbooknews.com
My Book’s Out
Susan James is the originator of this site. She says, “My Book’s Out is simply a place to simply state: ‘Hey, My Book’s Out’ and ‘Hey, My Book’s Still Out!’ and to keep repeating it.”
James launched the site in August 2001 because, as she says, “I kept running into places (sites) where there were too many rules about what could or could not be posted, so I decided to set one up the way I would like to have it done.”
Here she allows authors/publishers to post their print and electronic books for free. Check it out!
I’ve run into several people lately who are praising InstantPublisher. Sandy Buckalew was so impressed after they published her first book, In a Pumpkin Shell (a romance/mystery novel) that she has since become an affiliate of InstantPublisher.
She says, “For as little as $97.50 (perfect bound, sixty pages, 25 copies), you can publish your book and receive your order within 7 days.” Not only that, says Buckalew, “InstantPublisher will order your ISBN for you at a discounted price and help you with your marketing at no cost.”
Buckalew suggests that everyone do what she did before choosing a Print On Demand company and investigate many such companies to make sure you find one that’s a good match.
One of SPAWN’s newest links is molesearch.com, which they tout as being “the definitive guide to the publishing world.” MoleSearch is a new search engine dedicated to the many aspects of publishing. They offer nearly 10,000 listings for writers, publishers, manufacturers, distributors, bookstores and more. And, according to their spokesperson, their publishing news is updated hourly.
Good Dr. English
This is a brand new site featuring Good Dr. English, an expert grammarian who resides (of all places) in Thailand. Good Dr. English writes articles for the site and responds to English language questions. You can read his answers in any of several different languages. Email the good doctor at email@example.com
Vocabula Review is another site dedicated to the spoken and written word. While the site is new, their free newsletter by the same name has been around since 1999. According to editor/publisher Robert Hartwell Fiske, they started out with 47 subscribers and have nearly 5,900 now. He estimates that 40,000 to 80,000 people from more than 100 countries visit the site every month.
Fiske describes the newsletter as a monthly journal about the English language that appeals to editors, publishers, students, professors, linguists and others interested in writing, language and literature.
This site also features Authors’ Book Proposals where authors can post their book proposal to be viewed by agents and publishers. When I visited the site, I noticed that two of the twenty or so proposals had been purchased by publishers.
It looks like practically everything on this site is free, but they’re offering even more for a fee. Pay a $25 fee and you’ll become a Votary of Vocabula. For more information contact Mr. Fiske at firstname.lastname@example.org
Each month, I try to include a site or ezine specifically for fiction writers. This month we’re featuring Fiction Factor. This online magazine for writers offers tips for writing better fiction, a free newsletter and resources for fiction writers.
As promised, this week I’m featuring two proofreaders—folks who actually make a living doing proofreading. First let’s talk to Jan Kovanik
Q: What motivated you to take a job as proofreader?
A: It was really a twist of fate more than anything. I was in a position where working full time was not necessary (after a 20+ year stint in accounting, the last 10 years at the corporate level) and I signed on with a temporary agency in the town we were living in at the time, asking only for part-time work. As it happened, the temp agency got a call from a local office that was looking for a “part-time proofreader who can read accounting research journals.” Given that I had listed “writing a novel” as one of my hobbies on my temp agency employment application, along with my 20-year accounting background, I got the job. When it became necessary to re-locate (for my husband’s employer), I screwed up my courage and offered to continue to proofread for them off-site. Imagine my shock and surprise when they took me up on my offer. Little did I know then that “Jan K., The Proofer” had been born.
Q: How much of the proofreading is skill and how much is talent? Please explain.
A: Since I literally have no education in proofreading (or journalism, or any other field related to the publications industry), I’d have to say that “talent” got me in the door (that and the fact that there weren’t many takers for proofreading accounting research journals). However, I did have to bring myself up to speed rather quickly in terms of proofreader’s marks, publishing industry standard formats—not to mention just boning up on plain old English grammar. This does not mean that I was totally unlearned; I am a voracious reader, command an extensive vocabulary (knowing how and when to use it), and enjoyed better than average grades during what post-high school education I had pursued.
I would never suggest that someone go into proofreading without understanding basic sentence structure, the mechanics of punctuation, and the eccentricities of our language. However, these things are all rather easily self-taught using any grammar primer you can buy at a bookstore. It is the common-sense blend of this knowledge with the requirements of the publishing industry as a whole and the specific requirements of the company/ client/publication for whom you are proofreading. My best guess is that there is a marked difference between proofreading for Harlequin Romance novels than for post-graduate academic texts.
Q: How can someone determine whether they have the skills and what steps can they take to hone the skills?
A: To be blunt, you have to look at yourself very honestly. Can you write a decent sentence? Do you know when to use a semi-colon? How do you recognize a sentence with mixed tenses (and then what is the proper approach to correcting it)?
Skills, per se, are easily acquired through self-education using grammar primers. Determining when, or if, your skills are good enough to market is a matter of how confident you are in what you know you can do (and the limits of your skills and abilities). There are proofreading workbooks available at most better bookstores that offer self-tests and other assignments designed to help develop your skills.
Q: What are some of the opportunities out there for a skilled proofreader?
A: Wherever there is a printed word, there is an opportunity.
Q: How would you recommend that someone get started in this field?
A: Unless you find a classified in the Sunday paper, a proofreading job is probably not going to land in your lap. My best suggestion is that you volunteer your proofreading services in exchange for getting a credit printed. Get a web site. Print your own business cards and take them around to local print shops, tack them up on public bulletin boards, and distribute them wherever you can. Look to local community and four-year colleges for possible work in proofreading term and research papers (don’t expect to get paid very much—students are usually broke). If there is a four-year or post-graduate college near you, then find out if foreign students attend. Make up a special flyer or brochure and offer to “Americanize” their term and research papers. Finally, if you have been employed (or are still employed), then you probably have a vast working knowledge of your field. Determine if this industry publishes journals, newsletters, or other job-specific texts. You can use your job knowledge and your proofreading skills.
Q: Do you have any tips for proofreaders?
A: Don’t expect to make much money at the start. It took me the better part of five years to get to the point where I have work almost every day.
Don’t be bashful about asking how you will be paid. I have this conversation right up front with any new client. While I prefer to be paid upon completion of the job, in the real world this doesn’t happen very often. It might be that your invoices have to get sent to an off-site main office for processing. I tell the prospective client what my preferences are and then I ask about what’s really going to happen once I present my invoice. I always preface the conversation by saying, “If I know when to expect a check, then I won’t bug you until it is past due.”
Q: With spellcheckers, you probably don’t come across many misspelled words these days. What do you look for mostly? Does a proofreader check facts and figures in the piece, for example?
A: It’s true that with spellcheckers, you don’t find many actually misspelled words—but what you do find are wrongly used synonyms, word forms, and word tenses. I read every word, in context.
Depending on the client, and the text, you may have to verify facts, figures, and numerical data. I have one client for whom I must re-check the math. I have another client for whom I completely ignore all the tabular data that is presented as appendices and addendums. There is no standard. If you are uncomfortable with facts, figures, or data-intensive texts, then don’t take work that includes them.
Q: What can a proofreader expect to be paid for their services?
A: There is no given range or income expectation. Some clients will offer you work at a flat rate, others will ask you for your rate, and some is a combination of both. Your best gauge would be to call around to companies that employ proofreaders in your general area, in the closest largest city, or even statewide. Do your homework. Call the company and ask to speak to the proofreading department, or human resources, or to whomever it is who can answer your question. Ask for the salary range. Surf the web and look for other freelance proofreaders, editors, and copyeditors. What do they charge? If you live in New York City or just about anywhere in California, then you are probably going to be able to charge a higher rate.
Personally, I keep my rates at a level where I feel I’m “middle of the pack.” Not so high that I don’t get requests for quotes and not so low that prospective clients will think that I must not be very good at what I do.
NOTE: Writer’s Market suggests that proofreaders charge between $15-55 an hour.
Q: It seems that proofreading is a good way to break into other areas of writing (editing, etc.). Can you talk a little about that concept?
A: When I proofread, I use “queries” as a method of asking an author about text that I’ve found to be poorly phrased, unclear, or for statements that I think could be better said. I offer my rewrite along with my reason for it. By doing more than just verifying that the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed, I advertise that I have abilities beyond “just proofreading.”
I have extended my services beyond proofreading for many of my clients. I have one client for whom I even do some administrative work (composing company-wide letters and memorandum, writing training materials, and establishing new procedures).
Tom Hanson also does proofreading, but adds copyediting and transcribing to his repertoire.
Q: Tell me how long you’ve been in this business and what motivated you to start his work.
A: I’ve been in this business since October (2001). I have a great job editing a monthly publication, but my family needs extra income because we have a son who is autistic. This disease is quite costly and my wife cannot work outside of the home. We wanted to do a business at home and this seems a good idea.
Q: Who are your clients and how do you find them?
A: I have a client in Montana who has taped messages that I make transcripts for so he can make them available on his web site. I am also working through a college professor for additional editing work. I solicit work through lists of book publishers. I either send query letters by mail or the Internet.
Q: Which of your services is most popular right now and why?
A: Transcription. It’s a fallback position. I would rather copyedit or proofread. I assume transcribing is popular because it’s so tedious and many don’t want to do it.
Q: What skills/talents does it take to do the work you do? What would you advise someone who wants to start a business like yours?
A: Gain both academic experience and actual work in the field. Then start getting lists and sending query letters. Most (people you approach) will say no, but there is plenty of work out there to keep you busy. Bacon’s Media Directories have more names than you can solicit in years.
Q: What would you suggest to someone wanting to do this type of work?
A: The key is to do things that others may not want to do—copyediting, proofreading and transcription work are not that entertaining, but that’s also why clients may hire you. They don’t want to do the work themselves.
Because crafts and needlework seem to be making a comeback throughout the world, I’ve invited Annie Mayne, Australian writer and author of the best selling “Annie” series craft and cookbooks, to participate in this Market Update.
Q: I was impressed upon reading about your difficult lifestyle transition some years ago. In essence you turned to cottage crafts as a sort of comforting activity and turned it into a booming business. Would you outline the details of that story in your own words for my audience?
A: Twelve years ago, I needed a change of lifestyle, as my blood pressure was sky high, and I felt I was headed for a breakdown. I had worked for twenty-five years in law firms and in international banking. Little did I know that I would never return to a regular workplace.
I started making cottage crafts at home and selling them at local markets. This was so successful, I wrote an article on selling crafts at markets to a major women’s magazine, which was accepted immediately, followed by further articles on making crafts which were also eagerly accepted.
So many ideas were running through my head, that it occurred to me that I should write a series of books on easy, inexpensive crafts for fetes and markets. At a large bookstore, I compiled a two-page list of craft book publishers who published the kind of books I envisaged.
My enthusiastic and confident letter to publishers was carefully composed. I strongly feel you are not only selling your ideas, but yourself. I got an excited call from the second publisher I approached who was very keen to sign me on the spot. My daughter was born that day, so I always maintain I gave birth to a baby and a book on the same day!!!
Of course it was all very well to have signed a contract for two books with a brand new baby, but now I had to go about putting the ideas on paper. At this time we lived in a tiny cottage in Sydney. My computer was set up in the baby’s room—not an ideal situation, but I completed my first book while she slept!
Over 50 crafts items were photographed, editing was checked, final proofreading done, and an index compiled. It was a bit like a pregnancy—took nine months altogether! I was so excited to receive my first book Annie’s Country Crafts.
I wrote to all the major craft magazines in Australia, and sent them a copy of my book. They published some great articles and book reviews, which of course generated more sales. I took my book to all the craft shows I attended, and they sold well.
The following year, we moved to our weekender country property. With no electricity and only a generator and two fuel stoves, it was an abrupt change of pace from our life in the city. I wrote my second craft book, Annie’s Cottage Crafts when the generator was on, usually at night. This book was also successfully published and the Book Clubs snapped them up. I also started to sell both books on a mail order basis through advertisements placed in country magazines and newspapers. They sold like hot cakes!
I quickly produced Annie’s Creative Crafts, followed by Annie’s Easy Crafts. Remarkably the “Annie” books sold over $1 million in retail sales, and were bestsellers in the Australian market. The Book Clubs were doing a roaring trade, and the books were reprinted countless times. With each new book, I negotiated a better contract for myself.
My publishers then approached me to write an easy, inexpensive type of cookbook. Annie’s East Treats was also highly successful in the competitive market of cookbooks. The emphasis had always been on simple treats or crafts for gift giving or fund raising, and I believe this is why the “Annie” series of books has enjoyed so much success. Promotion is also a key factor, and you have to be prepared to sell yourself. I never did go back to work in an office!!!
Q: You mentioned in your story for Writers Weekly that you believe that your enthusiastic and confident query letter was what sold the publisher on your book idea. Please elaborate. Do you have any specific tips for other authors?
A: Your covering letter enclosing your craft article, or sample chapter for a book, is most vital. You have to convince the publishers why your article is of special interest to their market. In effect you are selling yourself. You need to be enthusiastic about why your article would be of interest (new idea, different angle, latest trend) and confident about your capabilities (state your background, abilities, experience).
For example, this is how I sold a craft article to a major Australian crafts magazine for $200.
“Just how many different crafts are there? I don’t pretend to have covered every craft in ‘Crafts – A to Z’, but I am confident your readers will be interested in the many different popular crafts currently available to learn from books, or through workshops and courses.
It struck me as your magazine is still very new, it would be an appropriate time to publish an alphabetical list of crafts. ‘Crafts – A to Z’ is a 1,600 word self-explanatory article …… I am keenly interested in crafts and sell my crafts through our Fragrant Farm, our tourist business in Mudgee, and at craft shows and markets. I am the author of the best selling “Annie” series of craft books, and have written crafts articles which have appeared in Woman’s Day, Craft and Home, and the Women’s Weekly in the U.K. ……. May I take this opportunity to compliment you on your magazine and contents. With the rapidly growing interest in handcrafted items in Australia at present, I am sure your magazine will be very successful.”
I jumped at this opportunity to specially write an article for a brand new publication. You need to know the magazine you are writing for, and this alphabetical list of Crafts – A to Z was easily put together.
As another example, this is how I sold a general interest article on “Office Tips to Success” for $300 to the first magazine I approached.
“What makes an employee successful? Having spent 25 years working in legal and international banking offices in Australia, the U.K. and Canada, I feel well qualified to expound on ‘Office Tips to Success.’
I feel confident this 1,000-word article will be of great interest to your readers, and especially young people starting out on the ladder to success. So much easier if you start out on the right footing!”
Keep your letter to one page, enclose a copy of your article, and always include a stamped, self-addressed envelope so you receive your material back if rejected. By the way, I never worry about rejections—your article just wasn’t suitable at that particular time for that magazine or publication. Send it out immediately to another publication, and keep records of where the article was sent and when (inside front cover of your file, or a card system–I use both).
Q: It seems that people are turning more to crafts and needlework these days—especially in America after the 9/11 tragedy. While other magazines are folding, I see several new craft magazines cropping up. Is there an increase in folks going back to (as you call them) cottage crafts? Please elaborate.
A: Although the tragedy of September 11th happened in the U.S., it has had a profound effect on people worldwide. We see it here in Australia with the number of people unwilling to travel far from home. This has had an impact on our tourist business with a 65% downturn in the past few months. People are appreciating their homes and families more, and returning to the pastimes of yesteryear.
Australia has some excellent craft publications, and there is a wide range available to choose from such as stamp craft, embroidery, patchwork, folk art and so on. There is also tremendous interest in lifestyle articles here, with gardening, home decorating, and country style magazines booming. Television lifestyle shows are also popular at present, which has led to a number of new magazines with these trends, and an opportunity for all kinds of new markets for writers.
“Cottage crafts” are crafts items that people can make as gifts, fund raisers, or home decorations with the emphasis on “easy and inexpensive” to make. I make a wide array of items such as soap bags, coat hangers, lavender bags and bonbons, potpourri hangers, decorated hats and baskets that are very pretty, with lace and ribbon trims. I also feel that people like the idea of presenting and receiving a handcrafted gift. Perhaps in view of what has happened recently in the world, expensive bought items seem less personal.
Q: Would you talk a little about writing for craft and how-to magazines? Do you have any suggestions or tips? Is it a good idea for someone to start writing articles for craft magazines before tackling a book project?
A: The most important thing is to know your markets, and in particular the magazine you are submitting an article for. I subscribe to a number of magazines so I know what has already been published. I started out writing for craft magazines with simple projects for fetes and kids to make.
Don’t forget seasonal projects. I submitted an article to Family Circle for Christmas crafts. The editor actually came out to my home and I had a huge Christmas tree decorated with all the items I had made for her to see. She took the lot, and all these Christmas items appeared on the front cover of the Christmas issue of the magazine, with a large article inside featuring all my crafts. These were all ideas I had designed myself, so were new and original.
Q: What are some of the most popular crafts today?
A: We have some extremely talented people in Australia, and I would have to say that patchwork is probably the most popular overall craft here. Embroidery, folk art, ceramics, bear and doll making, pottery and others are also popular. Scrap booking has not been so big here yet.
Q: What do you predict to be the crafts (or how-tos) of the future? For a while it was scrap booking. What’s on the horizon?
A: I can only speak for the Australian market. I would say with the popularity of the do-it-yourself lifestyle programs, there has been a huge surge in people renovating, redecorating and furnishing their homes. These crafts could include woodwork, mosaic tiling, soft furnishings and so on.
Q: Please offer tips for someone wanting to break into the craft writing market. What should they know about technique? Skill? Talent? Research, etc.?
A: Research your market. Know your magazines and what type of articles they publish. If you want to have a book published, research publishers at a large bookstore for the type of book you envisage. You should write about what you have expertise in. My “Annie” craft books came about precisely because I had no particular skills. I don’t knit, crochet, embroider or do anything especially clever. I really felt there were some beautiful and complicated specialised craft books on the market. However, there was a gap in the market for people with no skills who still wanted to feel they could make crafts that didn’t require a lot of money to produce, no special equipment, and no particular talent!
Q: Please add anything you think is pertinent to the writer/artist reading this interview.
A: Writing for the craft market can be fun, as you can use your imagination and creativity to come up with new ideas all the time. For each craft item you need to list the materials needed (best in the order of use), precise measurements, and clear instructions. Get someone to check your instructions make sense to a lay person. Send clear accompanying photographs for each article, or send the actual article if possible. You may be requested to make up a number of articles, as I find most magazines like to set up their own photographs of crafts items.
If you feel you have enough material, then put together a book. I write an introduction, divide my crafts items into chapters, and generally work out a layout for the book. I try to keep my crafts books to fifty items with approx. 50 pages, softcover A4 sized book with usually 12 pages of colour plates so the cost of the book ranges from $10 to $13. I also have black and white photographs accompany each craft item. I also did illustrations and drew patterns for some of the crafts. I arranged photography of the crafts and suggested a layout for the photographs in the book. My publisher designed the covers for the books and I was satisfied with all of them.
When offered contracts for each of my books, I had them vetted by the Copyright Council who suggested changes to the contracts and other guidelines which were useful. I was able to negotiate better royalties and other perks with each subsequent book.
The onus is on you to proof read your book thoroughly, compile an index, and ensure everything is correct. Waiting for the book to be published is much like a pregnancy—takes about nine months altogether!
Best of luck with this market as there is enormous scope.
Annie and her husband, Phillip now operate “Fragrant Farm,” a busy tourist business in Mudgee, New South Wales, Australia. There is a Friendship Farm with all kinds of animals, tourist cottage accommodation, doll display, herb gardens, and a 60-seat restaurant where Annie has cooked over 17,000 meals exclusively for bus groups. Annie sells many of her crafts, poems, a variety of self published books, and of course, the “Annie” books in the charming Craft Shop. She has several more “Annie” books up her sleeve, and also enjoys writing short stories, craft and general interest articles for major magazines such as Australian Women’s Weekly, Woman’s Day, Craft and Home, Better Homes and Gardens, English Women’s Weekly and more. Contact Annie at email@example.com or visit Fragrant Farm at
We’re now publishing the Q & A section in SPAWNews. If you have a writing/ publishing-related question for Patricia Fry (President of SPAWN) or Virginia Lawrence (webmaster), send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Patricia also responds weekly to questions for the National Association of Women Writers newsletter. www.naww.org
This month, we’ve interviewed Nancy Lohr, the juvenile fiction editor for Bob Jones University Press. Those of you interested in writing children’s books, will most likely find this piece helpful.
Q: Can you give me an overview of the publishing company? Who is your audience and what types of books do you publish?
A: Bob Jones University Press is a leading provider of Christ-centered educational materials for pre-college traditional and home schools. The youth imprint of BJU Press, JourneyForth Books, produces trade books for the same segment of readers.
We produce everything from picture books for pre-schoolers to novels and biographies for teenagers. Our books are based on a biblical world view. Some books have clear references to the Bible and Christian characters, other books present the theme in the manner of classic moral literature. In either case, the books are written to appeal to the varying reading abilities and interests of our readers.
Q: What types of manuscripts are you currently looking for?
A: I am always looking for biographies of Christian heroes of the faith—men and women who advanced the cause of Christ like Gladys Aylward and Hudson Taylor.
Many of the young readers in our audience are reading well in early elementary school For these youngsters, I need good first chapter books; these can be classic adventure stories, mysteries and animal adventure like the Marguerite Henry’s Misty books or Walt Morey’s Gentle Ben.
I’m not accepting picture books at this point.
Q: How many books do you plan to publish this year?
A: I anticipate releasing ten books in 2002.
Q: What are some of your recent titles?
A: The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne, A Fingerprint Classics Edition for young adults. Over the Divide by Catherine Fames for young adults. Daniel Colton Under Fire by Elaine Schulte for ages 9 – 12 Adoniram Judson: God’s Man in Burma by Sharon Hambrick for ages 7 – 9.
Q: Do you have a suggested word requirement?
A: Our writers’ guidelines give all of the specifics. The web address for the guidelines is www.bjup.com/books/freelance.html
Ages 6 –8: 3,000 to 9,000 words
Ages 9-12: 10,000 to 40,000 words
Ages 12 and up: 40,000 to 60,000 words
Q: How do you want submissions handled?
A: For fiction, I would like to receive a brief synopsis and the first five chapters. I will request the rest of the book if I see potential for our publishing house. For biographies, I would like a query that includes a brief description of the biographee and his/her accomplishments.
Q: What do you look for in an author?
A: The first thing I want to see is an author who demonstrates a working knowledge of the art and craft of writing for children. I see too many manuscripts that are poorly written, but are sent to me with the sense that the book is “just for kids” and therefore good enough.
It takes great skill to convey large ideas to young people; a good children’s writer will understand this concept. The manuscript should manifest carefully developed, well-rounded characters who draw our interest as a believable plot develops and a worthy theme unfolds. The best authors, from my perspective, are those who are continually improving their skill with the written word to better serve young readers. Anything less is likely to be rejected out of hand.
Beyond this compelling concern, I want authors who will be willing to help with self-promotion, but it goes without saying that until a fine book is crafted, the willingness to help market is a moot point.
Q: What are some of your future plans?
A: We are developing a line of biographies of Christian heroes. We have also begun outing some classic children’s titles back into print alongside our new titles which form the backbone of our backlist. We want to publish books that are both timely and timeless.
In the April, 2002 Market Update, we’ll publish interviews with magazines that accept poetry. We’ll also feature an interview with the editor of one of America’s oldest publications. And I have some surprises planned. Let me know if there are any specific publishers/genres you would like me to cover. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since we can’t be everywhere, we’d like to recruit our members to notify us about any information, news, tips or opportunities that might be of interest to the working writer/publisher. Or let me know if there’s a particular editor or publisher you’d like me to interview for this column. Send your requests and information to me at Patty@spawn.org.