September 18, 2019

The Value of Feedback for Writers

Recently, someone in an online group of children's writers asked if anyone provided professional editorial or critiquing services. Another person mentioned my name. (Thank you!)

This writer was still new on their writing journey. Before investing in a professional critique, it's beneficial to get feedback and critiques from writing peers, often called critique partners (or a critique group).
I went on to explain how my critique partners and I really help each other to be better writers. It's not just their suggestions that help. Over the years, my writing has improved by reading what they write.

My writing partners want me to be critical-but I should be able to explain why a phrase or sentence doesn't quite work. I may even provide alternatives. It's fun to point out a well-written paragraph. I also look at strengths and weaknesses in the whole text. It's not just typos and grammar we examine.

I write alone, but I depend on others to help me write well.

I can't recommend critique groups and critique partners enough.

Critique partners help each other improve their writing. They cheer each other on as resumes expand.

So...before you pay for a professional critique (which is an excellent idea before submitting), consider a peer critique first. Some writers don't have time to provide critiques to other writers, so they only get professional critiques. That's fine, but your writing will strengthen with every critique!

I drafted this post just before I saw my friend's post about critique groups. Marsha shared advice on finding a critique group. I'll just add if you are a children's writer, SCBWI may help! (I mention SCBWI in my tips for writers and again in my list of resources. If you don't know it and you write for children, you should.)

I live in a rather rural area. Most of my critiques are on-line (both professional and with my critique group and critique partners.) There's value in all kinds of feedback!

If you have a polished manuscript and you're ready for a professional critique, I'd love to help you. Learn more about my critiques for children's writers here.

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August 31, 2019

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July 24, 2019

How Can Kids and Teens Get Published?

Kids and teens often ask how they can get their books, stories, and poems published.

Some young writers may want to attend writing workshops and conferences. Few writers become published (other than self-publishing) without some serious writing classes. (Some workshops focus more on the business side of writing. Others focus on the craft. My advice is to always work on craft first.) Conferences often provide students discounts for young writers.
Next month I'm teaching another group of young writers about nonfiction writing. For those in attendance and other kids and teens who want to know how to get published, I've compiled a list of contests, opportunities, and resources for kid and teen writers.
The list for writing contests and writing opportunities is free to download. 
No email needed.

Beyond those writing contests and and writing opportunities, consider these ideas to publish young writers and students' stories. 

• Club or classroom newspaper or magazine
• E-book with PowerPoint or Google Slides
• Blank hardcover or softcover books (self-made or printed for you)
• Blog (adult supervised)
• Open mic (local bookstore, cafe, school) 
• Field trip to a personal care home
• YouTube video or book trailer

Self-publishing is also an option. Instead of getting paid by the publisher, the author has to pay to have the books published and then sells books to make a profit.  An additional cost which many self-published authors skip (and give self-published books a poor reputation) is paying for editorial reviews (not just their tenth grade English teacher) for content and copy editing. That's an additional cost. The cover and interior design are additional costs if the author doesn't have those skills.

If you don't know the difference between traditional, vanity, and self-publishing, please read about them HERE before seeking a traditional publisher or self-publishing service.

Young writers, best of luck to you! Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep learning. Writers of all ages need to be patient as they learn the craft of writing. Keep at it!

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June 2, 2019

How to Pay for An Author Visit

Teachers love the idea of inviting an author to visit but often lack of money to make it happen. Funds are available for school visits! The benefits are too big to neglect investing in author visits.

The Librarian Leaps makes author visits a priority! Check out her video all about author visits from the School Library Connection. BONUS: Educators can earn professional development for it!

Fundraising for Author Visits

In-School Field Trip. Ask each student to contribute $2+ to cover the cost of the author visit for an in-school field trip. 
Share the Cost. Team up with another local school to request a discount. The author might visit School A in the morning and School B in the afternoon. Or maybe the author will provide a discount by splitting the visit between two days. 
Fund Raise. Bake sales and dunking booths are just a couple of ways to fund raise for a future goal. You could even raffle lunch (or a muffin) with the author (with the author's consent). Consider multiple events to raise enough money to cover the school visit fees.  
PTO/PTA. Ask your parent-led organization to help cover the cost of the author visit. Can they cover travel expenses if the school (or grant or...) pays for the author programs? (They may be more eager to help if a staff member contacts the author and the PTO only writes the check.)
Government Funding. Title I schools and others who receive special literacy funding might take advantage of combining an author visit with a family literacy night to use available funds. 
Grants. Donors ChooseArts Agencies, or SCBWI may be able to fund your author visit. MANY more grants are available, too. Those are listed at some of the links below.

More Ideas to Pay for Your Author Visit

Check out these resources. They include fun ideas, grants, and more!
35 Ways to Fund Author Visits
Funding an Author Visit: There's Money Available
Ideas for Raising Funds for Author Visits
This video from

Ask the Author 

If you have an author in mind for a school visit but your budget doesn't quite meet their fees, ask if s/he has any flexibility in pricing. Tell the author what your budget is and see if it might work for what you have in mind. He or she may have some ideas to make it happen!

MANY children's authors make a significant amount of their income through author visits. Despite some figures you may have heard from big-name authors, most children's authors don't make a living from writing. They supplement their income with author visits and most still depend upon another income (second job or spouse/partner) to pay bills.

I love visiting schools. I'm a nonfiction children's author living in Pennsylvania--near Maryland and Delaware. Can I encourage and excite your students about reading, writing, science, or history? Learn more about my programs or check out my Author Visit FAQ!
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