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 Business Side of Writing, The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing, The Publication Process

How’d You Get That Gig?

I’ve heard that question and others like it when people found out about my sale of a picture book to the Korean publisher, Unibooks (유니북스), for their ESL program for young children.
Is it who you know?
Yes, and no. Yes, a friend of mine posted the information about the publisher, but it wasn’t directed specifically to me. It was posted on a list-serve in August (I think). Here’s what she said:

I have a writing opportunity that may interest some of you or some of your members. A respected Korean English language publisher is looking for writers to do work-for-hire books for grade levels kindergarten – Jr. high.
Books are nonfiction and fiction, based on set content area themes or topics, for example, upcoming social studies topics are “feelings” and “values.”
Word length is 250 – 1500 words and fee ranges from $300 to $1200 per book depending on target age range for each series.
If you, or a writer you know, would be interested in doing this kind of work, please shoot me an email so I can find a few good candidates to suggest to this company. Someone with some magazine experience or published credits would be preferable. I’d like to get something to them in the next couple of weeks. Writing projects would start immediately in October.

So that was about networking really. Talking and listening to other writers. Paying attention. Being open.
eee7.jpgWhat happened next?
I told my friend I was interested and gave her a brief bio. I think she received interest from at least 30 other writers. She asked us to answer some questions and then she sent the whole batch of info to the publisher.
November 3rd, someone from the publisher contacted me via email. (Normally I delete emails coming with any foreign language in the “from,” but fortunately, not this one!) She mentioned my friend sending her the info, had visited my website, told me briefly about the project and asked if I was interested. Of course, I said “yes.”
Next step, I received more details and suggested topics. I chose one, “Belling the Cat,” refreshed my memory on the original story, followed the publisher’s specific guidelines and wrote it up and submitted. Here’s what I got back on November 17th: “We like your script. It’s like a piece of musical. And embedded parts are well settled. At the same time, we feel you abbreviated the story because of word count. You can use up to 250 words. So we’d like to suggest you several things.” And it went into very specific details. Payment was discussed, but no contract.
I rewrote; sent it back. This time, November 29th, I got a contract . . . along with other rewrite suggestions. And encouragement to write one or two more stories for them. I’ve rewritten “Belling the Cat” again and am waiting for their feedback. I think it is much stronger and clearer, but what makes sense to me as a native English speaker may not make sense to Koreans who learn English as a second language.
Meanwhile, another person from Unibooks contacted me. She’s working on the next level up and read one of the first two versions of “Belling the Cat” and would like me to write something for them. Of course, I said, “yes.” I imagine the future books for both projects will go along a similar process: write on spec, make changes, and if they like them, I’ll get a contract, then make more changes.
What can you do?
So my advice to you is network with other writers, read writing list-serves, pay attention to opportunities, be willing to try out for them, and work hard on your writing and rewriting.