• Best-Selling Picture Books

    Lists of best-selling children’s books are great tools for writers. They show us what publishers and consumers are buying, and we learn about our craft from reading other authors.

    Last week we listed the current frontlist fiction for children in middle grades and up. This week we reveal the 30 best-selling picture books in the US. The list is of hardcover titles that have sold more than 750,000 copies and paperback books with sales over one million copies.

    The first one on the list, Read More

  • Bestsellers–Children’s Frontlist Fiction

    We know as writers that we need to read, read, read—especially books like the ones we want to write. So this week we’ve listed the current frontlist fiction for children in middle grades and up. Frontlist books are a publisher’s sales list of recently published books, especially those with popular appeal. In contrast, the backlist is comprised of the books that a publisher has kept in print over several years.

    Here are the top selling juvenile books as of early March 2014. There are humorous books, lighthearted fantasties, dark themes, legends, toughing novels, and stories based on history. Read More

  • Advice From Editors

    I recently read an article in which seasoned editors gave advice to newbies. It was in  Publishers Weekly, February 21, 2014, and was titled, “Voices of Experience: Advice from Publishing Veterans.” Although the tidbits of wisdom are meant for beginning editors, the ideas are helpful for writers also.

    Barbara Marcus, Random House, said to read as many books as you can so you have a broader knowledge of the industry…hang out in bookstores…and take note of how books are designed, positioned and promoted. Find a mentor and learn as much as you can.

    Joy Peskin, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, said that volunteering in community programs for juveniles gave her an understanding Read More

  • Same Old Stuff? Get Inspired!

    I’ve discovered some fun websites and even gleaned an idea from one to use in a book. Maybe they’ll inspire you with ideas for characters and plots or provide fun tidbits to include in your stories. They are also just interesting  to explore.

    This site offers a wide range of lists with a short piece about each item on the list. You can click on headings like Recent, Popular, Randon, and Bizarre.  Read More

  • What’s So Great About Books?

    I can’t imagine life without reading and hope I never have to. Great books open our hearts and minds and show us how to be better, whether we’re kids or adults. Consider these ideas on books:

    TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they’ll have with twenty-six. Open your child’s imagination. Open a book. ~Author Unknown

    Books are the compasses and telescopes and sextants and charts which other men have prepared to help us navigate the dangerous seas of human life. ~Jesse Lee Bennett

    Books can be dangerous. Read More

  • What C.S. Lewis’s Secretary Learned

    It’s important that beginning writers conquer isolationism. If you don’t, it will lead to feelings of restlessness, futility and self-defeat. Find a writing buddy. Join a critique group or take a weekly writing course—anything that will keep you in social circulation. You’ll find a new sense of purpose, revitalized vigor and new sources of inspiration from your fellow wordsmiths.

    Jennifer and I have been members of a writer’s group that just celebrated its 21st anniversary. We discovered that the success of others can be contagious. Nearly everyone in the group has sold articles, poems, essays, short stories and even book manuscripts to major magazines or publishers in New York. That includes the two of us.

    Years ago in Oxford, I met Walter Hooper, C.S. Lewis’s former secretary. “ Read More

  • Stretch Yourself – Literally

    When you spend as much time writing as Jennifer and I do, the task can become a pain in the neck—literally. Have you ever had writer’s cramp? Do you have trouble sleeping because of the tingling numbness in your hands and fingers? Having difficulty getting a grip on your mouse, your pen or stapler? Are your shoulders constantly aching? Is your neck stiff?

    You’re not alone, but unfortunately, you—like so many other freelancers—are at risk of a Read More

  • Avoid Small-Minded People

    As the author of two dozen children’s books and four romance novels, I am often asked to speak in classrooms, libraries, and at writing conferences. I am still slightly disconcerted whenever I overhear a child whisper, “She doesn’t look like a writer, does she?”

    And it’s not just children who have these odd, preconceived notions of authors. Adults are also guilty. More than once, Read More

  • Make Your Manuscript Grammar Perfect

    On page 75 of our workbook, Write a Marketable Children’s Book in 7 Weeks, we mention the importance of checking one’s manuscript for spelling and grammar errors. As competitive as the writing world is, one can’t afford to be careless with one’s writing, particularly when submitting a manuscript to an editor. I’ve heard editors state that if they find spelling errors on the first page of a submission, they automatically reject the manuscript. Another editor at a large book publisher company said he ticks off any grammar errors and once he reaches three, he reads no further. He said he doesn’t need to. After all, he has an overwhelming slush pile and knows he’ll find a better manuscript in the pile somewhere.

    Grammar is a three-headed beast that terrorizes victims in the following three areas:

    • punctuation and spelling,
    • diction,
    • syntax.

    Many writers resent having to contend with grammar at all and accuse editors of being “too picky.”

    But consider this—the main goal of coming to grips with grammar is: