Writing Tips - FAQ

Writing Tips - FAQ
This page contains a selection of questions writers have asked Andrea about writing and getting published. More questions are being added all the time.

Note that if you contact Andrea with an interesting question and she decides to display it here, your name won't be displayed (unless you want us to).
Q  How do I get my poetry published by a mainstream publisher?

A  Send a selection of your poetry to the poetry editors as detailed in the marvellous Writers and Artist Yearbook (you can buy a copy from Amazon via this link here ). Remember that with poetry there is no money in it whatsoever!

Q  Some of the publishers I want to send my manuscripts to say they do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. What does this mean?
A  Not accepting unsolicited work means they will not read something that they didn't ask for. Many publishers are bombarded with work every day and they do not have time to read it all. So unless they have specifically asked you to send work, it's really a waste of time. But lots of publishers do accept unsolicited work so just concentrate on them. Details can be found in the Artist and Writers Yearbook which you can buy via my site here 
Q Where do you get ideas for your children's books from?
A The answer is - everywhere, but mostly from things my family and friends say and do. For example, when my kids complained about not having a pet I wrote about a little boy who pretended he did (The Best Pet ). And when one of my kids asked me how to grow taller, I wrote about a little boy who went to extreme measures to put on some height (You’ll Soon Grow Alex) . And babies crying and staying awake all night inspired me to write The Truth About Babies. If I can do it you can too!
Q I've had a rejection for my work. Should I give up?
A No. All successful writers have loads of rejections - absolutely nobody finds a publisher quickly or easily. Part of being a writer is learning to be thick-skinned! Don't give up, send your ms to the next publisher. Lots of tips plus templates for cover letters in my book which you can read all abut here
Q  I have sent four picture book submissions but just realised I've made a silly grammatical error in the covering letter. One of them has been returned within a week with a circle around the the error and a standard letter saying sorry. Can you advise me whether to re submit straight away?     thank you for your time
A  I know you feel a little upset but don't worry. Most editors wouldn't
notice - quite a lot of them can't spell! And everyone makes silly typing
mistakes. However the publisher who returned your ms probably has read your submission, so no, don't resubmit right now - send it to another publisher. And read your letters through in future.  Good luck

Q How do I go about getting a short story written by a child (age 11) published
A It's very difficult. Publishers are not interested in authors who do not have a large body of work, let alone young children. Mainstream publishers need to make money from work - how would they do this? I suggest you encourage your child to keep writing and to keep all his or her work as this will fire their interest in writign and creativity. In the meantime perhaps type it up on nice paper and circulate it to your friends and family - and congrats on having a talented child!

Q   I have three stories starring the same characters - should I submit all three together to demonstrate that this is a series rather than a stand-alone story, or should I send just one? 
A  Assuming you are talking picture books there's nothing to stop you submitting 3 together. It will give the editor a chance to ditch the ones they don't like and pick the best. On the other hand you could send the best one and mention in your cover letter you have written two more, giving a brief synopsis of each. Note that most publishers prefer to see how successful a book is before committing themselves to a second or third book.
 Q Does "Mr Cow's Secret Icecream Udders" sound like a good name for a kids book?
A Titles are important but to be honest if a publisher loves your text and feels there's a good market for it - but HATES the title, they will just change it (with your permission of course!). Almost all my books have been renamed!
Q  I have a picture book idea and need to know what to do about illustrations. I've lined up an artistic work colleague to do some sketches! Is this a good idea?
A  Only if your colleague is a professional illustrator. Otherwise I think it's safer to just send the text.
Q  Does my story have to be copyrighted before I submit it?
A  Just writing your story down on paper gives you legal ownership of the copyright - you don't need to do anything. To prevent your ideas being pinched however, only submit manuscripts to reputable, mainstream publishers. I'd also avoid websites that display your unpublished stories because then whole world can see (and copy) it!
Q  What is the best way to safeguard against plagiarism?
A   Plagiarism is copying somebody else's work and passing it off as your own. But it normally applies to already-published works such as my own poems which have a nasty habit of appearing all over the web with somebody else's name on them. It's very annoying but there isn't much you can do. Reputable publishers will check carefully that a work belongs to an author before they publish it. 
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