Showing posts with label BW Article. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BW Article. Show all posts

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Buzz Words Short Story Prize


For those of us who write for children, it will come as no surprise that there are no awards in Australia for short stories written for children. To remedy this, Buzz Words has decided to take the initiative and launch the inaugural Buzz Words Short Story Prize. As we have been unable to find a funding organisation prepared to make a grant possible, Buzz Words founder and compiler, author Dianne (Di) Bates is sponsoring the competition which will be launched today, 1 September 2018.


There will be two prizes: first is $1,000 and second is $500. The three short-listing judges are Cathie Tasker, who has worked with Australia’s leading trade and children’s book publishers — HarperCollins Publishers, Scholastic Australia and Koala Books and who currently runs a very successful writing course, Short Story Essentials for the Australian Writers Centre, author Bill Condon, winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for Youth Literature and three times winner of the CBCA Honour Book of the Year, and author Dianne Bates, recipient of the Lady Cutler Award for distinguished services for children’s literature. 

Finalist judge is author Jackie French AM, former Australian Children’s Laureate and winner of many state and national awards for children’s literature.

Entrants are invited to send up to three entries, each accompanied by an official entry form with a fee of $10 per entry. 

The story should be for children 8 to 11 years and no longer than 1,500 words.  Closing date for receipt of entries in 31 December 2018. 

The short list of 10 will be announced in the 1 February 2019 issue of Buzz Words and the winners in the 15 February 2019 issue 

Buzz Words will also publish the winning entries on www.buzzwordsmagazine.com on a date yet to be decided.

Full Terms and Conditions and Entry Form here.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Tracking Down Children’s Poets


Recently I’ve been trying to locate copyright holders of poems to be published in an anthology I’ve compiled (Our Home is Dirt by Sea, Walker Books Australia). It’s not been an easy task for me, or for the publishers’ rights manager. Sadly, there is no national body which lists contacts for copyright holders*. However, the National Library of Australia has a very helpful, free service (http://www.nla.gov.au/contact-us) which assists not only in locating poets and other writers (where they have such information), but it is also handy for authors and others carrying out research. The Library has help pages for Library collection material: http://www.nla.gov.au/copyright-in-library-items

If you are ever trying to locate an Australian copyright holder, you might, try the following: first, Google to see if your © holder has a website. Check to see if they have a blog or are on Facebook, Linkedin or other social media. Follow all leads such as searching published references, contacting the writer’s publisher/s, writing to the author’s last known address, asking other scholars and/or colleagues, searching phone books (if, for example, your author has an unusual surname).
If you are searching for a poet, you could try poetry websites such as the Australian Poetry Centre (www.australianpoetrycentre.org.au); if you seek a playwright, contact PlayWrighting Australia or the Australian Script Centre (www.pwa.org.au) or ). Most journalists belong to the Alliance (www.alliance.org.au) while many authors belong to the Australian Society of Authors (www.asauthors.org/Cached - Similar). Some children’s authors and illustrators belong to the various branches of the Children’s Book Council of Australia (www.cbca.org.au). Writers’ centres in all states are another source to explore, while writers’ residencies might have accommodated your author at some time and still have his contact details.
You might also publish a notice in a newspaper or on an appropriate online message board, or you might consider using genealogical sources or examining acknowledgements and notes’ sections of articles about the writer whom you are seeking. One websites I found particularly helpful was the Copyright Agency Limited: (www.copyright.com.au) while you might also try the Australian Copyright Council (http://www.copyright.org.au/) and/or the Public Lending Rights Office of the Arts (www.arts.gov.au/literature/lending_rightsCached).  For further advice, it may be worth contacting Intellectual Property Australia: (http://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/).
Many writers, living and dead, have their papers held in the National Library, as well as in archives of state and specialist libraries, so it is well worth contacting archivists in individual libraries.                                                                                                      
For searching overseas’ writers, there is a help page at the University of Texas which gives tips on how to find copyright holders: http://research.hrc.utexas.edu/watch/us.cfm Many American and European authors (and other artists, living and dead) are included in The WATCH file (tyler.hrc.utexas.edu).
Finally, as someone who has spent many hours acting as literary detective in my search for copyright holders, can I suggest that if you are a published writer that in the very least you invest in a website through which others – anthologists, publishers, academics et al – can track you down? One other advantage of having a website is that the Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) disperses money to writers whose work is downloaded from websites – but income-generating is a whole other issue!
© Dianne Bates
NOTE: As a result of finding so many Australian children’s poets don’t have an online presence, Dianne Bates founded a website www.australianchildrenspoetry.com.au to showcase their work and provide a means by which children, teachers, publishers and anthologists could make contact with them. In seeking funding for the website, Di applied to several agencies, including CAL but was unsuccessful so she sponsored the site.
Dianne (Di) Bates is the author of over 130 books for young readers. She is the founder/compiler of Buzz Words magazine and website. www.buzzwordsmagazine.com  




Monday, 13 August 2018

PICTURE BOOKS: TEXT AND ILLUSTRATION


A children's picture book needs to strike a balance between the written text and the illustrations. The text should be able to be divided up evenly, with an equal amount of text on each page. Each page - or each double page spread - has a sentence or two, or a paragraph. Each of these sentences or paragraphs must lend themselves to an illustration, and so the written text should provide a variety of scenes, characters, or actions. You could think of this as writing "captions" for the (not-yet-drawn) pictures.


 However, these "captions" must flow, as they should in any other well-written story, 
The problem with many picture book manuscripts submitted to publishers is that writers do not give sufficient thought to the role of illustrator as co-creator of the finished book. 

Publishing Manager of Penguin Books, Laura Harris, has said that one of the main reasons picture book texts get rejected is that “the writer doesn’t give the illustrator enough to work with.” A writer needs to read her text with the eye of an illustrator, looking at each and every paragraph to consider what pictorial images might complement them. If she cannot imagine illustrations for each paragraph, then she can be said to have failed the illustrator, and so she must re-write.

In her book Making Picture Books (Scholastic Australia 2003), Libby Gleeson writes: “In the best picture books, the illustrations are absolutely necessary. They carry parts of the story or the narrative and in some cases the language is dropped, and pictures alone are all that is needed. The process is like a film where words and pictures work together but sometimes silence is a powerful way to tell part of a story.

A picture book is not the same as an illustrated short story: in the latter words alone could tell the story and the illustrations simply break up the words or decorate the text. Illustrations in a successful picture book not only complement written text; they can, as Gleeson says, take the place of text, interpreting and extending the meaning of what the writer is trying to say in a way that might never have occurred to the writer (or to her editor). Colour – or lines or shapes - in artwork, for example, might convey personalities of the book’s characters, be symbolic of a mood (doom or humour) that the writer wishes to capture, produce an illusion (say of movement and surprise) or convey greater level of meaning.

To provide an illustrative brief or to instead allow the illustrator total freedom to make his interpretation is a problem which often besets a picture book writer. Many editors do not like writers to provide illustrative briefs. Illustrators like Shaun Tan say, “Manuscripts that pre-suppose or suggest what the visuals might be in advance, or even the breakdown of text per page, are quite uninviting to me.” In most cases where a writer has provided an illustrative brief, illustrators have totally disregarded them and gone on with their own interpretation of the written text. In any case, what is sure is that it is the written text alone which an editor judges as acceptable or not. If a creator submits a poor text accompanied by brilliant illustrations, then no matter how impressive the illustrations, the editor will have no hesitation in rejecting the submission.

And what of a picture book text? Illustrator Ann James says, “To write a picture book the writer knows less is more, but that each word is potent and a cue for interpretation by the artist.” She knows that the successful picture book writer needs to provide a strong, rich and streamlined text. Author Alan Baillie adds to this: “A picture book can only be about five hundred words, which means that every word has to pull its weight. The tension, the atmosphere, the characters, the humour.”

In general, the picture book writer needs to remember that the text is short and some of the story is contained in the illustrations. She needs to keep the language simple and direct. Not to overuse adjectives and adverbs. Not to clutter up sentences. To use simple – (as opposed to complex) verbs that are also appropriate. And, too, the writer needs to forget about descriptive language – for description is the illustrator’s domain.

Finally, here is what some Australian illustrators say about picture book texts:

Kerry Argent: “I like a text to move . . . minimal enough so that I can create extra layers and stories, visually.”

Shaun Tan: “I accept manuscripts ... that give much room for me to play and to tell my own stories visually, (that have) a certain ambiguity . . . that resist being fully explained.”

Ron Brooks: “To make a book, the words have to turn my heart around, make me go hollow in the belly, weak at the knees.”

 © Dianne Bates

Articles as interesting and informative as this, appear in every issue of the Buzz Words magazine, along with markets, opportunities, competitions, interviews and much more. Write to us and we'll send you a free copy to check out Australia's premier magazine for those in the children's book industry.

Monday, 6 August 2018

PICTURE BOOKS: TEXT AND ILLUSTRATION

A children's picture book needs to strike a balance between the written text and the illustrations. The text should be able to be divided up evenly, with an equal amount of text on each page. Each page - or each double page spread - has a sentence or two, or a paragraph. Each of these sentences or paragraphs must lend themselves to an illustration, and so the written text should provide a variety of scenes, characters, or actions. You could think of this as writing "captions" for the (not-yet-drawn) pictures. However, these "captions" must flow, as they should in any other well-written story, with an intriguing beginning, a rousing middle, and a good, satisfying ending.


The problem with many picture book manuscripts submitted to publishers is that writers do not give sufficient thought to the role of illustrator as co-creator of the finished book. Publishing Manager of Penguin Books, Laura Harris, has said that one of the main reasons picture book texts get rejected is that “the writer doesn’t give the illustrator enough to work with.” A writer needs to read her text with the eye of an illustrator, looking at each and every paragraph to consider what pictorial images might complement them. If she cannot imagine illustrations for each paragraph, then she can be said to have failed the illustrator, and so she must re-write.

In her book Making Picture Books (Scholastic Australia2003), Libby Gleeson writes: “In the best picture books, the illustrations are absolutely necessary. They carry parts of the story or the narrative and in some cases the language is dropped, and pictures alone are all that is needed. The process is like a film where words and pictures work together but sometimes silence is a powerful way to tell part of a story.

A picture book is not the same as an illustrated short story: in the latter words alone could tell the story and the illustrations simply break up the words or decorate the text. Illustrations in a successful picture book not only complement written text; they can, as Gleeson says, take the place of text, interpreting and extending the meaning of what the writer is trying to say in a way that might never have occurred to the writer (or to her editor). Colour – or lines or shapes - in artwork, for example, might convey personalities of the book’s characters, be symbolic of a mood (doom or humour) that the writer wishes to capture, produce an illusion (say of movement and surprise) or convey greater level of meaning.

To provide an illustrative brief or to instead allow the illustrator total freedom to make his interpretation is a problem which often besets a picture book writer. Many editors do not like writers to provide illustrative briefs. Illustrators like Shaun Tan say, “Manuscripts that presuppose or suggest what the visuals might be in advance, or even the breakdown of text per page, are quite uninviting to me.” In most cases where a writer has provided an illustrative brief, illustrators have totally disregarded them and gone on with their own interpretation of the written text. In any case, what is sure is that it is the written text alone which an editor judges as acceptable or not. If a creator submits a poor text accompanied by brilliant illustrations, then no matter how impressive the illustrations, the editor will have no hesitation in rejecting the submission.

And what of a picture book text? Illustrator Ann James says, “To write a picture book the writer knows less is more, but that each word is potent and a cue for interpretation by the artist.” She knows that the successful picture book writer needs to provide a strong, rich and streamlined text. Author Alan Baillie adds to this: “A picture book can only be about five hundred words, which means that every word has to pull its weight. The tension, the atmosphere, the characters, the humour.”

In general, the picture book writer needs to remember that the text is short and some of the story is contained in the illustrations. She needs to keep the language simple and direct. Not to overuse adjectives and adverbs. Not to clutter up sentences. To use simple – (as opposed to complex) verbs that are also appropriate. And, too, the writer needs to forget about descriptive language – for description is the illustrator’s domain.

Finally, here is what some Australian illustrators say about picture book texts:
Kerry Argent: “I like a text to move . . . minimal enough so that I can create extra layers and stories, visually.”
Shaun Tan: “I accept manuscripts ... that give much room for me to play and to tell my own stories visually, (that have) a certain ambiguity . . . that resist being fully explained.”
Ron Brooks: “To make a book, the words have to turn my heart around, make me go hollow in the belly, weak at the knees.”

© Dianne Bates

Dianne (Di) Bates is the founder/compiler of Buzz Words, an online twice monthly magazine for those in the children’s book industry. The author of 130+ books for young readers, she has published only one children’s picture book, Big Bad Bruce, illustrated by Cheryl Johns (Koala Books) which is in the KOALA Hall of Fame.


Monday, 30 July 2018

How to Find Out about Writers’ Conferences


by Dee White

Following my posts about Why Attend a Writer's Conference and Preparing for a Writer's Conference, I recently had a question from a blog reader, "How do we find out about writer's conferences?"

Thus, this article is designed to give you tips on where to start. I also wanted to mention that there are a lot of writer's festivals around, too. These are great for being inspired by other writers, hearing how they write and learning about their work and what their favourite reads are/were, but I find that conferences are a usually a better place to meet and present your work to publishers and agents. Seeing as I write for children and young adults, I find that the best place to start for these conferences is The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCWBI). Their website is divided into regions, so you can click on any region around the world and it will take you to a specific page that has any upcoming conferences listed.

CONFERENCES BY GENRE                                                                                      One way to find conferences that might be worth going to is to look at the genre you write in and then research organisations for writers in that genre. Some of these organisations host their own conferences; others can give you information about them through newsletters and websites.
For example, there are organisations for
1. Romance Writers - Romance Writers of Australia, Romance Writers of America
2. Speculative Fiction writers - Conflux, Clarion
3. Horror writers - Horror Writers Association
4. Crime writers - Australian Crime Writers Association, Sisters in Crime
5. Children's writers - Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
6. Comedy writers

LIBRARY CONFERENCES                                                                                          Reading Matters Conference - Held every second year by the State Library of Victoria. Check with your state or national library - they may be able to give you information about upcoming conferences.

WRITERS CENTRES IN AUSTRALIA BY STATE
ACT Writers Centre NSW Booranga Writers Centre New England Writers Centre NSW Writers Centre Hunter Writers Centre Northern Rivers Writers Centre South Coast Writers Centre Sydney Writers' Centre Varuna - The Writers' House, NT Writers Centre QLD Queensland Writers Centre, SA Writers Centre TAS Tasmanian Writers Centre VIC Writers Victoria WA Writing WA Katherine Susannah Pritchard Writers Centre
If you're overseas - for example in the US -- Google writers’ centres in your state, area or town

PUBLICATIONS                                                                                                            ASA - Australian Society of Authors newsletters - There may be an author organisation in your country that produces a publication that will list conferences in it. BUZZ WORDS - for Australian Children's and YA writers lists conferences and upcoming events.

There are lots of conferences I haven't been to that I'm sure are fantastic, but I just wanted to finish by mentioning ones I have been to that have been extremely beneficial to me. My book, Letters to Leonardo was picked up by Walker Books after I pitched it at the SCBWI Australia Conference in Sydney. I recently attended the CYA Conference in Brisbane and received three manuscript requests from publishers and one from an agent. I attended the 40th Anniversary SCBWI LA conference and apart from being loads of fun it was a huge global networking experience.

This article first appeared in Buzz Words magazine, 2015. Dee White wanted to be a writer since she was seven-years old. She has published 16 books for children and young adults and many articles, short stories and poems. She has been lucky enough to combine her loves of writing and travel into a career which takes her all over the world writing, researching and presenting workshops. Dee is a certified writing teacher and mentor, passionate about encouraging new writers. Her blogs Writing Classes for Kids and DeeScribe Writing are full of career and writing tips for writers of all ages. https://www.deescribe.com.au

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Help for Self-Publishing Authors and Illustrators


How to write an effective and helpful article about self-publishing when you have never self-published – now that’s a big ask! The main reason I don’t do it myself is because I don’t have the distribution resources at my disposal that commercial publishers have. There’s also the tremendous amount of marketing and publicity that a self-published author and/or illustrator needs to generate, not to mention the numerous expenses, none of which I want to expend. So, what I’ve done instead of writing about self-publishing, is to collect – and make available here -- online resources by experts which ought to help you if you decide to go down the road of self-publishing.

What I can suggest from experience as a book reader and reviewer of self-published books is that if you want to give yourself the best chance of success, you would be wise to invest in employing freelance professionals – an editor, a book designer, a proof-reader, an illustrator, and of course, a decent printer. You might even want to employ the services of a good publicist (such as Scott Eathborne who’s been interviewed in Buzz Words and who is one of the best -- in my opinion. His website is http://www.quikmarkmedia.com.au

So here are the websites which I hope you find helpful in your new venture. Good luck! (And don’t forget to get your finished book reviewed in Buzz Words www.buzzwordsmagazine.com !)


A word-counter and a cliché finder: these are some tools you need if you are going to publish an online book. Check out these and more here http://www.adventuresinyapublishing.com/2015/01/40-questions-to-ask-when-you-get-call.html


Book Baby Blog often has some great articles. Here’s one about how write a killer book blurb. http://blog.bookbaby.com/2015/07/5-tips-crafting-memorable-book-description/?




In this 30 minute video interview you’ll hear how to build your platform as an author http://janefriedman.com/2015/01/05/platform-building-authors-30-minute-video-interview


Want to Crowdfund your next book? Here are some great ideas http://janefriedman.com/2015/03/31/crowdfunded-publishing


If  you found this article helpful, you will be amazed by the wealth of practical and helpful information in the twice monthly magazine, Buzz Words, which is for those of  us in the Australian children's book industry. For details of how to subscribe (only $48 for 24 issues), go to right hand side of www.buzzwordsmagazine.com  

© Dianne Bates                                                                            

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Being Business-Like as a Writer


Taxation Departments regard writers and illustrators as 'Small Business'. Even if you are a new writer and don't earn enough money to pay tax, it's a smart idea to work in a business-like way. Then, when the time comes, the transition is easy.

This advice was given in a session called 'Taxation for Writers' at an Australian Society of Authors (ASA) seminar that I attended in the early eighties before I was earning enough to pay tax. A tax consultant advised on procedures that would simplify the drudgery of 'getting the figures together' at the end of the financial quarter or year. Here is my procedure, based initially on his advice and changed from time to time to suit different circumstances.

I write short stories, verse, scripts and articles for magazines (for adults and children), as well as junior novels, non-fiction books and picture-stories. I keep track of them by means of Card files and a Day Book. (If yours are major works, such as writing one novel or illustrating one picture-story a year, then you will always know where your work is placed.) Available now is software which does this job, but I like the portability of cards and a Day Book.

A. CARD FILES (Note that this can be computerised)
1. Each item of work has its own card, filed in its category: short stories, picture stories, articles, verse, scripts, novels, collections - in sections for adults and children. A quick glance tells the history of the work.
When I send a piece of work out, I write the date and the market; later, the date of acceptance followed by the payment, written in green felt pen, or the date of rejection followed by the next market.
Some items have a long history. If an item is out longer than four or five months, I send a reminder. If payment is slow, I send an account. If the item is returned, I send it out again, and make a notation, 'revised', if I re-write. I offer second rights and send items overseas.
I have retained copyright to most of my work and have been able to offer some for inclusion in story and poetry anthologies. I offer non-exclusive rights so that I am free to market my work again.
On the back of the cards, I note expenses, such as: postages, short story entry fees, photocopying costs...
2. Each market has a card: newspapers and magazines (adults and children), trade publishers, education publishers, radio programs. Five columns show date sent, title, category (short story, verse...), date of acceptance, date of return.
B. DAY BOOK (Note this can be spread-sheet on your computer)
I use a spiral notebook, page-numbered and divided into sections. Categories are listed on a Contents page under Expenses and Income. Three columns show date, details and fees. Whenever I pay by cheque, I include its number.

1. EXPENSES
Postages: Daily, as I post items, I enter them. My Post Office Box fee is also included once a year.
Telephone: Local and interstate charges are entered on separate pages. Half telephone rental is included.
Fares and Travel: This includes local travel by public transport and travel by car for speaking engagements. (Charges are based on kilometres and the cc capacity of the car.) Fares and travel costs paid by hosts for interstate travel for talks, research, appointments... are recorded.
Printing and Stationery: The usual office items, plus computer software and photocopying - coin-in-the-slot and copy card costs.
Subscriptions and Memberships: Add the cost of daily newspapers, for these are essential research tools for all kinds of writing.
Books: A collection of books may be depreciated annually, or new books related to the earning of income may be listed.
Workshops, conferences and seminars: Registration payments.
Fees: Include fees paid to enter competitions. If you are a compiler, fees paid to authors for permission to include items in an anthology. Fees paid for professional computer maintenance and advice.
Accountancy: Eventually you may decide to engage a tax consultant. This was my decision in 1986 when I had bought a computer, software and printer, and wasn't sure which of three ways was best when claiming depreciation.
Publicity and Advertising: Fliers, bookmarks, photographs and the purchase of your own books to give away.
Home Office: see Special Notes
Donations: List gifts to charitable organisations.
Hardware: Record details of the purchase of computer hardware, office desk, chair and filing cabinet. (Note that computer hardware can be depreciated and software cannot.)
Depreciation: see Special Notes.
Input Tax Credit: see Income: Copyright Agency Limited

2. INCOME
I list under the following headings:
Features and articles
Short Stories
Scripts
Verse
Royalties
Lectures, Workshops, School Visits
Public Lending Rights and Educational Lending Rights
Copyright Agency Limited - payments made when individuals or organisations photocopy works or segments of works. There is a commission involved in this, which is an Input Tax Credit. Multiply the amount by 11 and list it as a tax deduction.
Sale of books - if you buy new or remainders for re-sale, record purchase price and sales

3. SPECIAL NOTES
* File all royalty statements, receipts, etc, in two large envelopes - income and earnings.
* Originally, I had to discover how to depreciate office items, such as typewriter, tape-recorder, computer and printer. Now I leave it to my taxation consultant.
* Claim Home Office or Home Studio expenses on a room used exclusively for this purpose. The area of my study is about one-seventh of the total house area, so I list expenses (lighting, heating, water rates, council rates, insurance, body corporate fee) and divide by seven.
* Other items that may be tax-deductible: depreciation on office furnishings and fittings, repairs to office equipment, furniture and fittings, office cleaning, proportion of home loan interest, proportion of rent for a flat or a house, wages paid to assistants, legal fees in respect to contracts, proportion of overseas travel expenses...

When I engaged a taxation consultant, I explained my organisation and asked whether she had any suggestions. 'That's fine,' she said. 'All I need is your Day Book and totals of extra income from investments and bank interest.'

The system works for me. I hope it works for you!

© Edel Wignell
Edel Wignell is a freelance writer, compiler and journalist. Her latest titles are Tying the Knot: Folk Tales of Love and Marriage from around the World and Tying the Knot: Teacher Resource Book for Years 6-9 (Phoenix Education).
This article was first published in Writers' Forum (USA).



Wednesday, 4 July 2018

The Different Types Of Rejection Letters And What They Mean


Rejection letters from literary agents and editors of literary journals can be discouraging for authors, especially impersonal, one-line responses. But writers who want to succeed at getting their work published know rejection is an unavoidable and even necessary part of the writing process. So it’s important to know how to interpret the different types of rejection letters—and then use this knowledge to improve your submissions!

First, know that a rejection from a literary agent or editor is not personal. If your work is rejected, it doesn’t automatically mean your writing isn’t good enough. It could simply be a matter of poor timing (the agency has received a picture books on the same theme along with yours); the submission wasn’t appropriate (you submitted a children’s book to a romance publisher); or the agent or editor simply didn’t feel passionate about your work (but the next one may!)

However, if you find a common thread mentioned in many of the responses—too many plot problems, underdeveloped characters, etc.—it may be time to take another look at the work you’re submitting.
(Note: When choosing to make revisions based on feedback, think carefully before you edit. Follow your heart and consider the comments thoughtfully to avoid knee-jerk reactions.)

There are different types of rejections emails send to writers. A form email rejection is easy to spot, but doesn’t offer much in the way of information: “Dear Writer—No thanks.” Or “Dear Author—Please try again.” Some literary agents or editors will simply reply with something like, “Not for us.” A form letter, no matter what the exact phrasing, is a nice, generic way of saying “no thanks.”

Standard phrases used in form rejection letters from literary agents and editors of literary journals might include ‘Cannot use it/accept it at this time’, ‘Doesn’t meet our needs’, ‘Have to pass on this’, ‘Not a right fit’, ‘Not for us’. If you don’t hear from the publisher (or agent) within a reasonable amount of time (say three months), assume that no answer is their answer (that is, they have rejected your manuscript and are too impolite to get back to you).
 However, when a literary agent or editor has taken the time to include a personal comment about your submission—even if the comment is a critique—we recommend you submit future work to anyone who cared enough about your work to offer an opinion.
Send the agent or editor a thank-you note, and if/when you resubmit, reference the comments from the original rejection. Some literary agents always invite writers to submit again—it’s part of their form rejection letter. But others make such an offer more cautiously.  They might say, ‘We invite you to submit more in the future’, or ‘Do you have anything else we can consider? Please send.’

Whether it’s a vague response or a sincere offer, send a thank-you note and a new submission (when possible). Remember to reference the original comments in your cover/query letter.

But finally, sometimes an author receives a rejection that offers sincere appreciation of their writing, often going into detail about what makes the writing worthy. It’s still a rejection, but it’s also priceless validation of a writer’s talent. If you get one of these, it’s good as gold! (And be sure to send a new submission!)

When dealing with a manuscript rejection, keep in mind that agents and editors are people. They have varying likes and dislikes, and sometimes they have bad days… Again, rejection is not personal. You should let mean-spirited or impersonal rejections go and cherish any comments or constructive criticisms that come your way. Many editors and agents truly want you to succeed, so pay attention to what they’re saying about your work and its place in the literary market.  

If you’d like to receive an obligation free sample of the Buzz Words twice monthly newsletter, contact us here.


Saturday, 30 June 2018

Publishing Lessons


by Dianne Bates

More than thirty-five years have passed since my first book, Terri (Puffin) was published. Those decades in this business of writing have taught me many things. They have also taught me that I have much still to learn. But today we’ll start with what I’ve learned thus far. My hope is this list will shorten your own learning curve.

1. Writing is a business. Treat it as such if you intend getting published. 

2. Keep records. Keep very, very good records and save your receipts. You never know when you’ll be audited, as I have been. (Thankfully, I passed the test.)

3.  Keep track of your expenses. Do you think that it’s too much trouble to record your mileage to a meeting or postage costs? Think again. Every cent counts.

4.  Invest in yourself. If you can attend writers’ conferences and festivals. Subscribe to industry periodicals such as Buzz Words, Bookseller + Publisher, etc. Join organisations such as ASA, FAW, CBCA and/or SCWBI

5. Invest in good equipment including a printer/photocopier 

6. Network. Even if you are an introvert, as many writers are, learn to network. You needn’t become a social butterfly at conferences, but don’t spend all your time in your room. Engage others in conversation. You never know who you’ll meet. It’s a good idea to have a business card with your contact details.

7. Have a support group. Writing is a solitary business. One of the best things you can do for yourself and for your career is to find a group of like-minded people. Or join an online group. Workshop your writing-in-progress regularly.

8. Find a mentor. A mentor can guide you in your writing, offer critiques, and tell you when you’ve gone off track.

9. Be a mentor. I’m a firm believer in giving back. Mentor a less experienced member of your writers’ group. Mentor a young writer. You’ll learn much in teaching others. If you are mentored, consider giving back to those who mentor you (perhaps offer to critique their work-in-progress)

10. Work to improve your craft. Take classes. Attend workshops and conferences. Above all, practice your craft and write. Also read regularly, especially in the genre in which you write.

11. It is a good idea to have a professional read and assess your manuscript before submission.

12. When it comes to getting published, don’t take the first offer that comes your way. In our eagerness to sell a book, especially a first book, it’s tempting to take the first offer, even a bad one.

13. Always do your research before paying anyone to edit your manuscript or help you self-publish

14. No agent is better than a bad agent. Don’t be in such a hurry to sign with an agent. Do your due diligence and check out any agent or agency before you sign. Ask around and especially ask the agent what his/her terms are. A contract with an agent does not mean you are married to him or her, but that you will be “bound together” for the lifetime of any book he or she sells for you.

15. Leave any agency or publishing house with good feelings on both sides. Any bad-mouthing about editors or agents on your part can and probably will come back to bite you.

16.  Keep in touch. When an editor leaves your publishing house, it pays to stay in touch. The same goes for agents and other industry professionals.

17. Volunteer at conferences, book fairs and your local library. You will not only be giving back, you will also be making valuable contacts.

18. Establish working hours. When you’re writing, you’re working. Let your family and friends know that. 

19. Don’t be afraid to say no to family and friends. This goes back to treating yourself as a professional and expecting others to do the same. If you are writing, you are working and need to be left undisturbed.

20. Give yourself a break now and then. It’s wonderful to write every day (or whatever your schedule is), but it’s okay to take a break occasionally. You need to experience life to write about it.

21. Don’t beat yourself up when you can’t make your word count. Double down the next day. The important thing is that you keep writing.

22. Treat rejection as part of the learning curve. Rejections are a way of life for many writers, including me. After selling 130+ books, I still receive rejections with depressing frequency. I once sold a book on the 16th submission (and it went on to sell overseas). You need to believe in yourself!

23. Don’t pester your agent and/or your editor with constant calls, texts, or emails. It’s okay to stay in contact -- just don’t overwhelm them.

24. Meet your deadlines. Publishing houses operate on strict deadlines. If you don’t meet yours, you may wreck the entire schedule. If you can’t meet a deadline, let your editor know as soon as possible. Editors realise that emergencies happen.  

25. Don’t be so quick to send off a book. Revise and polish, revise and polish again.

26. Stay current. Know what’s happening in your genre. Keep up with the latest trends. You don’t have to write to them, but you should know what is going on. 

27. Keep learning. There is always more to learn!

28. Be active in social media. Publishers are on the look-out for new authors and like to see who is doing what, too! Make sure you have a blog and/or a website and contribute to them regularly.