Thursday, June 26, 2008

Go! How To Start Your Career As A Children's Writer (Part Three)

Suzanne Lieurance is a former classroom teacher, now a fulltime children’s author, freelance writer, and The Working Writer’s Coach. She teaches children’s writing for the Institute of Children’s Literature based in West Redding, Connecticut, and is the founder and director of the National Writing for Children Center.

Today is the final part in the series, READY, SET, GO! HOW TO CREATE A CAREER WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Suzanne Lieurance
The Working Writer's Coach
Working Writers Coach
Suzanne Lieurance website

GO - How to Start Your Career as a Children's Writer (Part Three)

Okay, so you’re ready to begin your career as a children's writer - you know the basics of writing for this market. You’re all set to get started - you have taken the time to create a professional resume and some writing samples to submit to publishers. Now, all that’s left is to GO and do it. Here’s how:

1. Submit your professional resume and writing samples to a few appropriate publishers (those who look for authors to assign them books to write). Be willing to write both nonfiction and fiction for children on both a royalty and a work-for-hire basis. Use a market guide to find these kinds of children’s publishers. Also, once you start networking with other children’s writers you’ll find more of these publishers.

2. Keep writing your own original fiction and nonfiction manuscripts be that for picture books, middle grade novels, YA novels, or anything in between. Also, study the markets and obtain submission guidelines for the publications you wish to write for. Today many publications have submission guidelines (and even current needs) available on their website, so search these websites first to save yourself time and postage.

3. Join a critique group, or start one, and subscribe to at least one publication for children’s writers.

4. In addition to your critique group, network with people who already do what you want to do - one way to do this is to join your local chapter of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), or sign up for an online listserv of children’s writers. Go to and search for groups for children’s writers. You’ll find several.

5. Learn to write a great query letter and how to correctly format a manuscript. There are many good books available that explain (in detail) how to write an effective query and how to format a manuscript
for submission to a publisher. You can also google “writing a query letter” or “formatting a manuscript” to find various articles that should help you.

6. Once you’re comfortable with your skills as a children’s writer, spend at least one day a week on marketing – looking for new opportunities and writing assignments. You’ll find job ads for children’s
writers in those newsletters you start subscribing to and also at online job boards for writers.

7. You MUST learn to use the Internet effectively. Also, learn how to transfer your work electronically. And, if you don’t have one already, get an email account, start a blog and/or website for your writing and post to it on a regular basis to develop an online presence.

8. At least once a year, attend a children’s writer’s conference or workshop. This is will give you more networking opportunities, plus you’ll learn, firsthand, the current needs of many children’s magazine
and book publishers.

9. Be dependable and professional. Freelancing is a business. Learn the business. For example, don’t expect to submit a handwritten manuscript and have an editor read it. Also, don’t expect to ignore
submission guidelines and have an editor read your manuscript.

10. Give yourself time to succeed. This is one of the most important steps. As you learn more about the business of writing for children, and continue to improve your craft, more opportunities will become available to you. You should also realize that it will take more than writing magazine stories and articles to make a living as a freelance children’s writer, so you must actively seek work ALL the time.

Follow the steps outlined above, and your freelance writing career will be off to a good start.

Suzanne Lieurance.

Suzanne will have an interesting marketing seminar today with a surprise guest on Blog Talk Radio 3:00PM Eastern Time.

Thanks, Suzanne for being such an informative guest. Please come back, soon!


Mrs. C said...

Mary & Suzanne,
I'm sorry I read this after the radio-show segment had already aired. I'm on CW with y'all, and I was so impressed with this interview. I'm a teacher Suzanne, so that aspect of your background particularly encourages me.

I just wanted to commend you both on what you are doing and say thanks from one who is learning from you.

Mary Ellen
(Who writes, teaches and parents while patting her head,rubbing her stomach and hopping on one leg)

Mary Cunningham said...

Hi Mary Ellen. Thanks for your encouraging comments.

If you're referring to the marketing program on Book Bites for Kids, you can listen to the archived program. Just click on the blog talk radio link I gave and it should be the first show up.

All the best with the writing, teaching, parenting, head patting, stomach rubbing and leg hopping!

Mary Cunningham said...

I just listened to the archived marketing program with marketing specialist, Penny Sansevieri of, and it was very, very informative.

I would suggest that anyone interested in selling or marketing their books, listen to this program on Book Bites for Kids. Again, the access link is on this post.