Posted in The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing, The Publication Process

Is That Right?

keep rightFirst rights, all rights, simultaneous rights–what do they all mean? Let’s talk about these terms and others in relationship to magazines. First, the eight terms below refer to North American serial rights, which includes the United States and Canada.
1. all rights – the rights to those words in that order. You may not resell or reuse this piece. Some magazines who buy all rights will sell the piece elsewhere and split the proceeds with you–usually those resales are to a market most of us don’t have access to, such as an assessment test or inclusion in a textbook. Decide if it is worth sending your manuscript to an “all rights” magazine, knowing it can’t be reprinted by anyone else without the publisher’s permission. Some high profile magazines buy all rights.
2. first rights – the right to print those words in that order first. You may resell it to someone else, who accepts reprint rights, second, simultaneous, or one-time rights. Sometimes first rights include limitations such as “first rights for 60 days following publication.” Make sure any succeeding publishers are aware of any limitations if it will affect them.
3. one-time rights – the right to print those words in that order once. Again, you may resell. A lot of religious magazines are open to this option as their audiences are very separate.
4. second rights – the right to print those words in that order once, after it has been printed one time elsewhere. Reselling again is permissible.
5. reprint rights – the right to print those words again and again. Except for the initial printing, you may not know when they use the piece again. It’s okay to sell elsewhere yourself.
6. simultaneous rights – similar to one-time rights–it doesn’t matter when someone else is using it.
7. first and nonexclusive reprint rights – the right to print those words in that order first, and to print those words again and again. This is an alternative to all rights that some publishers are offering. The author may resell the piece as well.
8. regional rights – the right to print those words in that order in a specific area of the country. You’ll often see this with local parenting magazines or newspapers. A parent in San Francisco won’t likely be reading a Boston parenting magazine, so editors of noncompeting magazines might be interested in the same article. However, these often have sections or sidebars with strong local focus.
What rights do magazines buy? It depends on each individual magazine or magazine publishing company. This is why it is vitally important to check market books and each magazine’s current writer’s guidelines.
What if a magazine accepts a variety of rights? How do you decide what to give them?
1. Most magazines that buy all rights only buy all rights. If they offer more than that, different rights may change your pay, so it will depend on what you’ve already sold or are willing to sell.
2. If they buy first or one-time rights, they may pay more for first rights. If you haven’t sold the manuscript elsewhere, offer first rights.
3. If a magazine buys one-time and simultaneous rights, offer the latter if you plan to submit elsewhere now. You may offer one-time if you don’t plan to submit again until an acceptance/rejection comes from this magazine on this manuscript.
4. If first rights on a piece have been sold, offer second rights or one-time rights before offering reprint rights.
How do you let those magazines who accept different rights know what rights you are offering? In your cover letter and on your manuscript below your word count. If you’re not offering all or first, it is common courtesy in your cover letter to let them know who published the article or story and when.
But what if you want to write another article on that topic and you sold all rights? Can you do that? Of course. Above I mentioned “the rights to those words in that order,” it doesn’t mean they bought the ideas, only this particular piece. You could take the facts you learned when researching or interviewing and write an article with a different slant. You won’t use any sentences from the original piece. Your paragraphs won’t look like the original piece. It’s very doubtful you’d use the exact same quote.
For a short story, you can write the same theme with a different aspect of the same problem. Of course, you’d use a different main character. Or perhaps you’d choose to write about a younger or older or opposite gender character who has a similar problem–it would be a different story. This new story or stories might also be in a different setting. i.e. instead of a city, a rural location.
One final question I’ve heard: But what if you want to use that character in a book and you’ve sold all rights? This isn’t likely to happen, but if it does, you can always ask the magazine for permission. But remember, a magazine character isn’t as fully developed as a book character. Neither is the setting in a magazine. Your character will change and morph when you give her a book length problem. Your setting will likely expand as well. Don’t limit yourself by being stuck on only one name and personality.
Thanks to heirbornstud of for the above image.

Posted in The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing, The Publication Process


heart.jpgYou’ve started reading a book and just couldn’t get into it, right? It could even be a well-recommended award-winning book, but it didn’t grab you. Sometimes you try the book later and this time you’re hooked. Other books, later comes and they still don’t do it for you. That’s subjective reading.
So why then are we surprised when an editor or agent isn’t hooked by our writing? Yes, our query got their attention but responses vary from “I didn’t love it enough” to “This isn’t right for me (I just personally don’t like…)” to “I simply did not connect with the voice here enough” to the “we only respond if we’re interested” no response. If we pin our hopes to much on one person’s opinion, it’s too easy to be heartbroken.
I experienced the subjectivity effect on the other side of the desk recently. I teach a correspondence course for writing for children’s magazines. Student lessons either come by email or regular mail. One response to a student got lost and I had to re-edit the lesson. The first time, I looked at the lesson and basically said “not in the right format, please redo.” The second time, yes, I still noticed it was not in the right format, but I also noticed a paragraph that would make a good opening. I spent more time the second time on the positives and less on the negative. Why is that? It’s that subjective thing again. Perhaps the first time I’d had a number of students not following directions and so was pre-set to be irritated. The second time it was the first lesson of the day, so I was more open minded. The student got a better response…on the same material.
So, back to editors and agents and their subjectivity…

  • Their responses can be influenced by what has happened that day. Agent Jenny Bent shared how agents can feel like losers on a March 2010 blog post. Here’s the link.
  • They can be influenced by personal taste. Agent Suzie Townsend said on her blog, “Here’s the thing. Reading is subjective and it’s a matter of personal tastes. I don’t read business books. I don’t really find them interesting and I wouldn’t pick one up off a shelf in a store, which means I wouldn’t request one from my slush pile either.”
  • The responses can be hindered by what else they’ve said “yes” to.

That means we can’t take one “no” too much to heart. We need more responses.
And then we need to look at those responses not subjectively (oh, poor me, another no), but objectively. We need to see the big picture. What are they saying? Are there any common threads in these responses? Perhaps a number mentioning character or voice? Or maybe several say it’s an overdone topic? Whatever it is we can learn from a consensus in feedback. It points out a problem with our writing that we can address. Here’s a blog post on Good Rejections–Deciphering Notes from Editors and Literary Agents by another writer Althyia Brown–you might find it helpful too.
We can also take heart from any positive comments and use them to help us move on to rewriting, making our book better, so that one day, someone subjectively says, “yes.”
Thanks to godidwlr on for the above picture.

Posted in The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing, The Publication Process

Can children and teens get their work published?

kidwriting.jpgYes. Check out these opportunities.

Children’s Magazines and Ezines
A good place to look is at the magazines you read. Do you see a kid’s or children’s section? Or there might be a “reader’s art” section. Here are some I found:

Creative Kids Magazine – for kids 8 to 16. “Material may include cartoons, songs, stories between 500 and 1200 words, puzzles, photographs, artwork, games, editorials, poetry, and plays, as well as any other creative work that can fit in the pages of the magazine.”
New Moon Girls – writing and art by girls 8 and up.
Stone Soup Magazine – features stories, poems and art by kids 8 to 13.

Contests aimed at children are a good place for young people to submit. Here are a few:
Adventure Write Kids
has an annual contest for kids under the age of 19.
National Geographic Kids often has some contests – search the site.
PBS Kids has a story writing and illustrating contest for kids in K-3rd grade.
Scholastic has an annual Kids Are Authors contest.

Young Authors Guide – this website has advice, links to magazines, and contests ordered by deadline.
The Young Writer’s Guide to Getting Published by Kathy Henderson has been a good resource in the past, but the copy on Amazon is pretty dated (2001)
Young Writers Society is an online community for young writers – ages 13+

Same as with adults submitting, kids and teens need to follow the directions exactly.

Thanks to Kristine Kisky for the photo above.
Posted in The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing, The Publication Process

Patience Required

Publication is a slow process. Even magazine publications can take a long time. Years ago I sold a piece to Highlights and it took three years before it was published. But it appeared in their 50th anniversary addition so that made the wait worthwhile. (Fortunately, they pay on acceptance.)

Work-for-hire is often quicker, but still not immediate. This past week I got two of the three books I wrote for Unibooks (Korea) in late 2011. We finished rewrites in early 2012. Published under the Tuntun label which produces books to teach Korean children English, these books are written by native English speakers. I’m very pleased with how my books, both retellings of Aesop fables, turned out. Each cover has some special effects of shiny texture. (I’m sure there is some correct technical word, but I don’t know it.)


BELLING THE CAT was illustrated by Kwak Jinyoung. Jinyoung did a great job. The mice crack me up. The cat is nice and wicked (from a mouse’s point of view) There are two fold out pages and one fold up page, which was a fun surprise.


THE FOX AND THE CRANE was illustrated by Son Junghyun. Junghyun put in lots of details that mean kids could spend a long time reading and rereading before they notice them all.

I worked with two editors on these books and we did a number of revisions. I worked with a different editor on a third book, MY SHADOW, that is to come out next month.

Some of my friends wrote books for Tuntun also and got their copies recently, too:
Jo S. Kittinger: I JUMP UP, I COME BACK DOWN (about gravity) and THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF. Read about Jo on her website.
Monica Harris: SASHA’S SENSES, SOPHIE & GYURI’S FUN DAY – review 2, SOPHIE & GYURI’S FUN DAY – review 3.
Another friend, like me, is waiting for further copies. Genny Heikka will be getting A TRIP TO THE SUPERMARKET soon. On her site you can see she’s done a lot of books for this company.

Posted in Guest Post, The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing, The Publication Process


heartbroken.jpgIf you’re heartbroken, don’t let it stop you from writing and submitting, at least without great thought. Be encouraged by this guest post by Krista Van Dolzer:

When Cupid* asked me to share a little advice and encouragement about the querying process, my first thought was that I was the perfect person to write this post 🙂 I queried my first manuscript in 2008, and here it is, 2012, and I’m just landing an agent, almost four years exactly after I sent my first query.

To be honest, I thought my last manuscript was going to be the One. It was the third manuscript I’d queried, so I definitely knew what I was doing, and my request rate was well over fifty percent. I received multiple revision requests and got all kinds of positive feedback, but in the end, nobody loved it enough to offer.

I was devastated, heartbroken. I’d thrown myself over the cliff, certain my parachute was finally going to open, but instead, I slammed into the pavement in full-scale freefall. The rejections hurt more because I knew how close I was.

I started querying my fourth manuscript in a weird in-between place. I felt good about the project, really good (one of my critique partners read the whole thing in one sitting, and another couldn’t wait to recommend it to her agent), but I was well aware of the fact that querying, like life, usually doesn’t turn out the way we expect it to.

And so it was with Steve. (That’s what I call him around the house, since THE REGENERATED MAN AND ME is a little more of a mouthful.) I’d imagined getting an offer within a couple of weeks from one of the fast responders I’d queried, but that didn’t happen.

As it turned out, what did happen was way better than anything I could have planned.

A few weeks ago, I signed with Kate Schafer Testerman, the agent who was literally at the top of my list, and I couldn’t be more excited. She’s the agent I would have picked if I could have picked anyone, and she picked me.

I’m not going to tell you to keep going, to never give up, because when you’ve been going for a while and you’re still waiting for that miracle, that’s the last thing you want anybody to tell you. Sometimes taking a step back, at least for a while, is the best thing to do, and that’s okay. But what I am going to say is that you never know when life will surprise you. We writers should know better than anyone that the best stories are the ones you don’t try to force.

*This post first appeared on Cupid’s Literary Connection on April 23rd and is used by permission.
Picture is courtesy of Anita Patterson on
Read more about Krista on her blog.