Get Published: An Easy Guide To The Publishing Industry


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Get Published: An Easy Guide To The Publishing Industry

Want a quick overview of the publishing industry so that you can get published? Whether you’re writing a novel, nonfiction book, or memoir (or whether you write short stories, poetry, or personal essays), you’ll love our simple explanation of how to get published.

The publishing industry is a confusing place! From the outside, it can seem like a wonder that anyone gets published! But with a little light reading, you too can obtain the information you need to get your writing published.

This page is a great primer for beginning or intermediate writers who want to get published in the following genres:
•Nonfiction books (self-help, how to)
•Short stories
•Personal essays and narrative nonfiction

Read on to find out how you can get published with reputable publishers who can help “make” your writing career!

Why Hasn’t the Number of Multicultural Books Increased In Eighteen Years?

Originally posted on the open book:

Since LEE & LOW BOOKS was founded in 1991 we have monitored the number of multicultural children’s books published each year through the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s statistics. Our hope has always been that with all of our efforts and dedication to publishing multicultural books for more than twenty years, we must have made a difference. Surprisingly, the needle has not moved. Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, children’s book publishing has not kept pace. We asked academics, authors, librarians, educators, and reviewers if they could put their fingers on the reason why the number of diverse books has not increased.

The Diversity Gap in Children's Books

The Diversity Gap in Children’s Books (click for larger image)

KT HorningKathleen T. Horning, Director of Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison: I think we saw the numbers of multicultural books flatlining when school and…

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How to Write Best Selling Children’s Books


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Interesting read - taken from WikiHow edited by Lucas Halbert, Horses4Ever, Nicole Willson, Sondra C and 8 others

There are seven fundamental reasons that some books succeed and others collect dust on the author’s bookshelf. These seven keys to success as an author are simple, obvious even, and yet in the midst of our writing many of us forget them. We get so focused on the idea of the book that we forget the mechanics. Here is the strategy that award winning authors use:

  1. Create a hero that your audience can relate to
  2. Examine your target market honestly. Who will be reading your book? Just because you think that your main character is funny, charming and brilliant doesn’t mean your audience will. Write about what your audience cares about.
  3. Write for your audience, not your high school English professor. There has already been a Shakespeare. Most genres do not require you to write like him. You will just turn your audience off if you write at a level beyond their comprehension.
  4. Give your reader a problem that he or she can empathize with. For example are you writing for teenage girls? Then something to do with the pains of adolescent romance, or lack thereof, might be a good start.
  5. Provide a nemesis that makes sense. The antagonist in your story should appear to be everything that your main character is not. Then go back in and give him or her some good qualities as well.
  6. People are not good or evil. Your characters should have the same character traits, as the rest of humanity.
  7. Example: A Thief with a Conscience or who hates everyone except his little sister, who he has taken care of since their mom died.
  8. Give all your characters depth.
  9. Provide obstacles for your main characters. Both your hero and antagonist need to have a few bumps in the road. Life isn’t smooth. Let them both screw up and figure their way out of their messes.
  10. Your hero, at the very least, must learn a lesson about himself or herself. Is he braver than he thought he was? Is her nerdiness actually an asset?
  11. Your characters should have some type of self-realization. It can be subtle. You do not have to go into a five chapter monologue on it, just give the readers some clues that he or she has changed.
  12. Begin and end your story with a bang. Grab your reader’s attention in the beginning and have them hoping for a sequel in the end. The rest, no matter how much work you put into it, will probably be skimmed until they hit the next seat gripping scene. Your job is to make that skim time as short as possible.



I thought that this was a great read.

Originally posted on Azevedo's Reviews:

Click the image for 19 more Stephen King's quotes on writing

Most of the quotes were taken from this book.

1. “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.”

2. “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”

3. “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”

4. “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

5. “In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it ‘got boring,’ the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep…

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How do you know if your books has the right length?



Manuscript Challenge information update:
How do you know if you books has the right length?

Picture books in its broadest definition, a picture book is a book in which the illustrations play a significant role in telling the story. Under this umbrella are several types of books:
The standard is text for 32 pages. That might mean one line per page, or more. 500-600 words is a good number to aim for. When it gets closer to 1,000, editors and agents may shy away.
1. Baby Books – For infants and young toddlers, these books are generally lullabies, nursery rhymes, finger plays, or wordless books. The length and format varies with the content.
2. Toddler books – Very simple stories for ages 1-3 (fewer than 300 words) familiar to a child’s everyday life, or concept books (teaching colors, numbers, shapes, etc.) Books are short (12 pages is average) and the format can be board books (sturdy paper-over board construction), pop-ups, lift-the flaps or novelty books (books that make sounds, have different textures, etc.) See the “Max” series of board books by Rosemary Wells (Dial).
Traditionally, picture books (also called “picture story books”) are 32-page books for ages 4-8 (this age may vary slightly by publisher). Manuscripts are up to 1500 words, with 1000 words being the average length. Plots are simple (no sub-plots or complicated twists) with one main character who embodies the child’s emotions, concerns and viewpoint. The illustrations (on every page or every other page) play as great a role as the text in telling the story. Occasionally a picture book will exceed 1500 words; this is usually geared toward the upper end of the age spectrum. Picture books cover a wide range of topics and styles. Nonfiction in the picture book format can go up to age 10, 48 pages in length, or up to about 2000 words of text.
3. Early picture books — A term for picture books geared toward the lower end of the 4-8 age range. These stories are simple and contain fewer than 1000 words. Many early picture books have been reprinted in the board book format, thus widening the audience. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (Philomel) is an example.

Also called “easy-to-read”, these books are for children just starting to read on their own (age 6-8). They have color illustrations on every page like a picture book, but the format is more “grown-up” – smaller trim size, sometimes broken into short chapters. The length varies greatly by publisher; the books can be 32-64 pages long, with 200-1500 words of text, occasionally going up to 2000 words. The stories are told mainly through action and dialogue, in grammatically simple sentences (one idea per sentence). Books average 2-5 sentences per page. See the “Amelia Bedelia” books by Peggy Parish or other “I Can Read” books published by Harper Trophy.

Sometimes called “early chapter books” for ages 6-9, they bridge the gap between easy readers and chapter books. Written like easy readers in style, transition books are longer (manuscripts are about 30 pages long, broken into 2-3 page chapters), books have a smaller trim size with black-and-white illustrations every few pages. See “The Kids of the Polk Street School” series by Patricia Reilly Giff (Dell) or the “Stepping Stone Books” published by Random House.

For ages 7-10, these books are 45-60 manuscript pages long, broken into 3-4 page chapters. Stories are meatier than transition books; though still contain a lot of action. The sentences can be a bit more complex, but paragraphs are still short (2-4 sentences average). Chapters often end in the middle of a scene to keep the reader turning the pages. Look at the “Herbie Jones” books by Suzy Kline (Puffin) and the “Ramona” books by Beverly Cleary (Morrow).

This is the golden age of reading for many children, ages 8-12. Manuscripts suddenly get longer (100-150 pages or 20,000 – 30,000, words), stories more complex (sub-plots involving secondary characters are woven through the story) and themes more sophisticated. Kids get hooked on characters at this age, which explains the popularity of series with 20 or more books involving the same cast. Fiction genres range from contemporary to historical to science fiction/fantasy; nonfiction includes biographies, science, history and multicultural topics. When writing a longer book that is aimed at 12-year-olds (and could maybe be considered “tween”), using the term “upper middle grade” is advisable. With upper middle grade, you can aim for 32,000 – 40,000 words. These are books that resemble young adult in matter and storytelling, but still tend to stick to MG themes and avoid hot-button, YA-acceptable themes such as sex, drugs and rock & roll.  You can stray a little over here but not much. With a simpler middle grade idea (Football Hero, or Jenny Jones and the Cupcake Mystery), aim lower.  Shoot for 20,000 – 30,000 words.
This is the area that the Manuscript Challenge for the Burt Award will be focusing on.

Young adult is for ages 12 and up, these manuscripts are 130 to about 200 pages long. Plots can be complex with several major characters, though one character should emerge as the focus of the book. Themes should be relevant to the problems and struggles of today’s teenagers, regardless of the genre. A new age category (10-14) is emerging, especially with young adult nonfiction. These books are slightly shorter than the 12 and up category, and topics (both fiction and nonfiction) are appropriate for children who have outgrown middle grade but aren’t yet ready for the themes (fiction) or who aren’t studying the subjects (nonfiction) of high school readers
NB: Perhaps more than any other, Young Adult is the one category where word count is very flexible. For starters, 55,000 – 70,000 is a great range. When it gets into the 70s, you may be all right—but you have to have a reason for going that high. Again, higher word counts usually mean that the writer does not know how to edit themselves. A good reason to have a longer YA novel that tops out at the high end of the scale is if it’s science fiction or fantasy. Once again, these categories are expected to be a little longer because of the world-building.

Between 80,000 and 89,999 words is a good range you should be aiming for. This is a 100% safe range for literary, romance, mystery, suspense, thriller and horror. Anything in this word count won’t scare off any agent anywhere. Passing 100K in word count means it’s a more expensive book to produce—hence agents’ and editors’ aversion to such lengths.
In short:
80,000 – 89,999:       ok
90,000 – 99,999:       Generally safe
70,000 – 79,999:       Might be too short; probably all right
100,000 – 109,999:   Might be too long; probably all right
Below 70,000:           Too short
110,000 or above     Too long

Science fiction and fantasy are the big exceptions because these categories tend to run long. It has to do with all the descriptions and world-building in the writing. 100,000 – 115,000 is an excellent range. 

These stories are generally shorter that the usual novel, 50K to 80K. 60,000 is a solid number to aim for.

A memoir is the same as a novel and that means you’re aiming for 80,000-89,999. However, keep in mind that these are true stories so that the length would vary with the story, don’t be afraid to come in less or more if you need too – because it all really happened.

In most cases, industry standard preferred length is 250 words per page… so a 400 page novel would be at about 100,000 words. If you want to see what size book is selling in your genre, take a look on the shelves. If the average length is 300 pages, you’re looking at a 75,000 word manuscript (approximately). One reason it’s harder for a new author to sell a 140,000 word manuscript is the size of the book. A 500+ page book is going to take up the space of almost two, 300 page books on the shelves. It’s also going to cost more for the publishers to produce, so unless the author is well known, the book stores aren’t going to stock that many copies of the ‘door-stopper’ novel as compared to the thinner novel.

There are two ways to calculate word count.
MSWord or iWork Pages
The program you use when writing will keep track of the word count. This may seem the best way to keep track of how long your story is, but publishers use a different formula.
Page Count x 250
Publishers calculate word count by multiplying the page count by 250. One reason this method is used is because when an editor receives a manuscript, it isn’t an electronic file. It’s a stack of paper.

When sending a query to an agent, you will not send the entire book. You will usually just send the first five or ten pages, along with a one or two page query. When putting the word count in the query, you can use either formula. Publishers prefer the second method, while agents tend to like the first method. Don’t cheat. Using a tiny font won’t work. With screenplays, if you use anything other than Courier 12 point you’re likely to get an instant rejection. With novels, a good font to use is Times New Roman 12 point.

These are guidelines and there are always exceptions to the rules as a writer, you should edit but don’t sacrifice your story or exaggerate its length for a word count. Most first novels are usually shorter; a great example is Harry Potter.
Harry Potter
The Philosopher’s Stone – 76,944
The Chamber of Secrets – 85,141
The Prisoner of Azkaban – 107,253

As the books became popular the words increased.  Check with the submission requirement for your agent or publisher and keep writing.

SCBWI provides a wealth of information


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Just Getting Started?

Not an SCBWI member yet? For those who are not yet members, or are unfamiliar with our resources, we’ve made available some general information on publishing for children. These publications will provide you with an overview of the children’s book industry, and are just a small taste of the various resources and support that come with membership in the SCBWI.
10 FAQs About Children’s Book Publishing New to publishing for young readers? Here are the questions most frequently asked, helpfully answered by a group of professionals in the field.
From Keyboard to Printed Page Here are the basics on how to format your writing for submission to agents and editors.
Types of Publishers This handy guide gives you a quick summary of the different types of publishers and book packagers who may be interested in your work, as a well as a short, general overview of how they work.
From the Editor’s Desk Ever wish you could pick an editor’s brain about what she’s looking for, or what she might suggest? You’re in luck. Beverly Horowitz, VP & Publisher at Bantam Delacorte Dell Books for Young Readers answers your questions. The SCBWI Bulletin is the bi-monthly magazine published by the SCBWI. Regular features and departments include the latest market reports, articles on issues in writing, illustrating, and publishing, as well as information on ongoing SCBWI activities throughout the world.

visit for details.

The Burt Award for Caribbean Literature


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An exciting global initiative in Young Adult literature is coming to the Caribbean. The Burt Award for Caribbean Literature was launched at the NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Port of Spain.

Part of a unique global literary award and readership initiative aiming to provide youth everywhere with access to books they will want to read, the Award was established by CODE — a Canadian charitable organisation that has been supporting literacy and learning for over 50 years — in collaboration with William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation. The Award will be accepting submissions from publishers from May 13 until August 23, 2013.

“In the Caribbean, as in many other places around the world, the call for quality, locally-authored reading materials for young people is constantly growing. Supporting the development of books that reflect the lives of readers, providing opportunities for emerging writers to develop and showcase their talents, and stimulating the growth of the regional publishing sector is crucial,” said CODE Executive Director Scott Walter. “And that’s exactly what this Award aims to do — it helps address these issues by celebrating the literary achievements of Caribbean authors and improving young readers’ access to books that are engaging and meaningful to them.”

The Award will be given annually to three English-language literary works for Young Adults by Caribbean authors. A First Prize of $10,000 CAD, a Second Prize of $7,000 CAD and a Third Prize of $5,000 CAD will be awarded to the winning authors. The publishers of each winning title will also receive a guaranteed purchase of up to 3,000 copies, ensuring the books will get into the hands of young people in schools, libraries and community organisations across the Caribbean.

For this new initiative, CODE will build on the success it has achieved in implementing the Burt Award in four African countries, as well as its long established partnerships in the Caribbean.

“Oftentimes, the only books Caribbean youth have access to are the textbooks they use in school. But textbooks don’t encourage them to develop a love of reading,” said William (Bill) Burt, who was instrumental in its founding and financially supports the Award. “I hope that the high-quality books that will emerge from these annual awards will make young people love to read, build their language skills and, eventually, help them to make a lasting difference in their communities.”

Since its inception in 2008, the Burt Award for African Literature has resulted in the publication of nearly 150,000 copies of 24 titles for young adults in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania. The inaugural Call for Manuscripts for the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature was launched in September 2012 in Canada, and the first winners will be announced in the fall of 2013.

The winners of the Inaugural Burt Award for Caribbean Literature will be announced at the 2014 NGC Bocas Lit Fest.

For further details on the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, go to

Join Us



The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators is a professional information and networking society of over 19,000 authors, agents, editors and illustrators world wide. Based in Los Angeles, the SCBWI is the largest of its kind and has chapters in 200 regions.

Our membership package is an invaluable tool for aspiring and professional writers and artists. It includes indispensable ‘how to’ articles and a directory of publishers in the field. One of the best things about SCBWI membership is the networking opportunity it presents. I have made fruitful contacts the world over. Now that’s technology well used! As creative people we need community not competition.

I sincerely recommend SCBWI to you as a great next step towards moving your career forward or becoming a professional in the field of children’s literature. I recently volunteered to spearhead a new Caribbean chapter. SCBWI Caribbean South was launched in Trinidad in September 2005. At least one monthly newsletter is circulated via email and are archives alone with related activities on our blog:

SCBWI Caribbean South will be responsible for helping its SCBWI members in their careers and will include Anguilla, Antigua, Barbados, Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Barts, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Martin, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago; Guyana and Venezuela too.


For further information and membership details log on to or contact me at
Let me know where you are and how SCBWI Caribbean South can serve you!
Marsha Gomes-Mckie


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