NAPIBOWRIWEE 2015 – DAY SEVEN: Submissions Check List
What? It’s Day SEVEN? Are you kidding me? Where did the time go? How is everyone feeling? Can you believe you have been writing for almost an entire week, non-stop? Are you exhausted? I am! But hang in there! We can do it! Just one more day! 🙂 Even as a professional writer who HAS to write every day, I have to admit writing 7 picture books in 7 days, no matter how much “pre-writing and outlining” you have done, is still a crazy and almost impossible idea. So I am BURSTING with pride for all of you and your hard work. I’m so excited! I am also grateful everyone was willing to join me on this annual journey of insanity to write 7 picture books in 7 days! LOL! 🙂
I will miss everyone! Before our week wraps up, some housekeeping reminders:
1. Please visit my website again on Friday May 8th at 6 AM EST/9 AM PST because I will announce the winners of our annual random drawing contest! I’ve put everyone’s names in a hat and will pick someone from random for the prize! 🙂
2. Our next NAPIBOWRIWEE 2016 event will take place on the same dates – May 1 to May 7th. Mark your calendars and visit my NAPIBOWRIWEE blog here: https://paulayoo.com/category/napibo/
3. If you registered for my website, PLEASE REMEMBER YOUR USER NAME AND PASSWORD. That way it will be easier for you to comment on my blog next year. If you forget your password, just follow the instructions at the FAQs here: https://paulayoo.com/national-picture-book-writing-week-napibowriwee-this-may-1-7-2015-faqs-here/
4. You can also find some fun souvenirs at our store here: http://www.cafepress.com/paulayoonapibowriweeclassic
MY DAY SIX EXPERIENCE: Today was a bit of a messy writing day. As I had mentioned in yesterday’s blog, because of some work deadlines and exhaustion from juggling a full-time job and this event and updating daily blogs, I hit a wall and couldn’t write Book 5 yesterday. So my goal today was to write Books 5 AND 6.
My day job was still busy as ever but I got out early! So I came home, did my daily two-mile walk (exercise is important for writers! Don’t be sedentary!), and then settled in front of my computer and started writing.
I started working on a non-fiction biography of a historical figure I had already done a ton of research on earlier. BUT… as I worked on it, I realized… this person’s life may be too obscure. And the topic might be too hard for the picture book audience. (Hint: It involves a scientist, but NOT Madame Curie.) So I ended up just jotting down a rough outline but I think I want this book idea to simmer more before I decide whether I do want to commit to writing a rough draft at all for this.
So then what did I do?
(small voice) I wrote another cat poem. I couldn’t help it. I have three cats and they are a constant source of inspiration for me. In fact…
(smaller voice) I wrote TWO cat books. LOL! So that counts as Books 5 and 6. However, one was wordless. My first attempt at a wordless picture book. Given that I write screenplays for my day job, scripts are very visual, so it was fun to put on my screenwriting hat to imagine all the visuals.
Which made me realize – if you want a fun writing exercise, watch one of your favorite movies. It can be any genre, from romantic comedy to sci fi to horror to suspense or drama. Jot down notes during the movie – write down what all the story beats are. Examine how the character changes and grows during the movie – from flawed person to hero seeking redemption etc. Figure out what the three-act structure is for the movie (what are the stakes of the plot and how do the storylines affect our character’s well-being?). Once you do that, you will be hyper aware of story structure. Take that energy and apply it to your picture book – if your book was a little mini-movie, what would the main story beats be etc.?
Please post your progress for Day 7 in today’s comments!
Reminder: I am posting daily blogs from May 1-7, 2015 at 6 AM PST (9 AM EST) here at https://paulayoo.com/category/napibo/ Our contest drawing results will be posted on May 8, 2015 featuring fun prizes from our NAPIBOWRIWEE STORE (link: http://www.cafepress.com/paulayoonapibowriweeclassic), autographed copies of my books, other surprise prizes as well as ONE free picture book manuscript critique from professional editor/author AMY CHERRIX, who is also our guest-in-residence for this year’s event! (You can follow Amy on Twitter @acherrix and her website is here: http://slushpilepress.com)
The theme for this year is EDITORIAL NUTS & BOLTS as Amy answers our questions about writing and the publishing industry. For today’s blog on “Submissions Check List,” I asked Amy for what her top five tips were for making sure your manuscript is ready to submit to agents and/or editors. I thought this would be the best way to wrap up our final day of NAPIBOWRIWEE with an editor’s advice on taking the first steps towards pursuing publication. Here’s what she had to say…
QUESTION: Any advice on how to submit a picture book? What are your Top Five tips that writers should check off their submissions check list before submitting?
AMY CHERRIX SAYS:
“1. Use your words. If you can’t comfortably read your own book, the language is off and it needs another pass.
2. Read it to children. Did they yawn or drift off? If so, it’s boring. Sorry. Move on to step 3!
3. Find MORE CHILDREN. Read it to them. If they love it, the first kids may have been over-tired. Revisit #1, just in case.
4. Edit this manuscript within an inch of its life. If a word isn’t 100 percent necessary, cut, cut cut. Be merciless.
5. Don’t be afraid if you’ve never submitted your work before. Everyone panics before clicking “send.” Use your unproven status as an asset by taking one sentence of your author bio to include something memorable about yourself. Are you a marathoner, artist, or black belt in Kung Fu? If one of these things can be related to your book, an editor will remember it and you.
And one final tip: When you attend conferences like the annual summer conference for the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (http://www.scbwi.org), make a point to find out the names of early career editors who are working at the publishing houses you have your eye on for submission. They might be more likely to consider books that are too risky for a more established editor. The only person as invested as you in your book, is the eager young editor trying to build a list.”
Thanks Amy, again, for your thoughtful advice! Everyone please remember to check these 5 Tips off your check list when you are ready to submit one of the books you wrote (hopefully) for NAPIBOWRIWEE when it’s ready to go! See? You will have (hopefully) 7 finished picture books by May 7, 2015, and then you can revise, revise, revise before following Amy’s Top 5 Checklist in order to submit to your agent/editor! 🙂
Grateful thanks again to the Amazing Amy Cherrix for taking time out of her busy editing and writing schedule to be our NAPIBOWRIWEE Guest-in-Residence for this year’s event! We’ve learned a lot from you!
Please remember – even though today is our last official day of writing for NAPIBOWRIWEE, there’s still a CONTEST coming up! I will be picking names at random out of a hat for fun prizes from our NAPIBOWRIWEE STORE, autographed books from moi, plus some other prizes and… drum roll… one lucky winner gets to have his/her picture book manuscript (minimum one book) critiqued for FREE by professional editor Amy Cherrix!
** CONTEST RESULTS: I will post tomorrow’s CONTEST WINNERS on May 8, 2015 at 6 AM PST/9 AM EST here. Good luck to everyone!
Well, time to leave the Blogging Batcave and head back into the Writing Batcave. Remember to follow me on Twitter @paulayoo for updates.
Until then, remember… HAPPY WRITING! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT! 🙂