Tips for Getting Your Children’s Book Manuscript Published

Tips for Getting Your Children’s Book Manuscript Published
by Robin Preiss Glasser, Illustrator of FANCY NANCY
RPGBioPix.jpgIn the four years that I have been illustrating Fancy Nancy, I have had the opportunity to meet literally thousands of people who love children’s books, which is a real perk for me. I adore speaking to new people and swapping stories. And invariably, wherever I go, people tell me that they have written a children’s book, or they know someone who wants to be an illustrator, and they look to me for advice. Although I don’t have all the answers – everyone’s success story is different – I do have some basic tips and bits of advice for those of you who are interested in trying to get a children’s story published.
The first thing you should know is that it isn’t easy or for the feint of heart. Be prepared for rejection. After four years of art school, it took me another five long years before I got my first book deal. And even after that it wasn’t instant success. People weren’t knocking down my door! But I knew that this was what I wanted to do, and with a lot of hard work and perseverance, I finally made it.
Tip #1
In my opinion, poets are our best children’s book writers. I’m not suggesting that the best children’s writing is in poetry form – it’s just that poets know how to express so much in so few words, something you find in the most successful children’s books. So poem or prose, if your manuscript is longer that one to three pages, double spaced, start editing.
Tip #2
If you are a writer, but not an illustrator, do not feel that you need an illustrated manuscript to send in to a publisher. That’s the job of the editor, who matches manuscripts to the right illustrator. Case in point is my work on Fancy Nancy. I did not even know author Jane O’Connor before our wonderful HarperCollins editor Margaret Anastas put us together. Jane works in New York City, and I am located in Southern California. Isn’t technology great?
Tip #3
Take classes in writing children’s books. As in any profession, you need to be a specialist of the form. Despite popular belief, not everyone can successfully write a children’s book. You need to learn the basics of what works and what doesn’t, and then you need to write, write, write.
Tip #4
Talk to the people in your class to see if they want to form a writing group. Peer feedback can be very constructive. In addition, it can be hard to stay motivated in a vacuum. Setting deadlines keeps you going!
Tip #5
Talk to your local children’s librarian. They can offer suggestions on what to read. It is important to know what is out there, and you learn so much from reading other people’s work. In addition, children’s librarians are often passionate readers of children’s literature themselves, and may have some wonderful insights to offer on the subject. In addition, look over the books that are on “best of the year” lists and objectively compare your work to what you are seeing.
Tip #6
Find out where the nearest book festivals are being held in your area. Try to attend as many panel discussions as you can so you can hear different writers talk about their work and their approach. (I live near Los Angeles, so I recommend the L.A. Book Festival. It is one of the biggest and best in the country. People come from as far away as Arizona to attend. Plus I’m always there, so stop by to say hello!)
Tip #7
Look into joining the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) SCBWI hosts two annual conferences – one in New York in the winter and one in L.A. in the summer – as well as regional conferences and panel discussions. These conferences are excellent places to hear talks by people in the field, attend workshops, and garner opportunities to talk to editors, agents, and published authors and illustrators.
Tip #8
Don’t just stick to one favorite story or idea that you have. Instead of sending out the same manuscript over and over, send out lots of different stories, so editors or agents can see you are versatile and maybe start to remember you. Look for trends. This can be a good way to get your foot in the door.
Tip #9
Check out the book Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market by Alice Pope, updated and published annually. This invaluable manual is filled with everything you need to know about getting published, as well as current names of publishers, addresses, and the editors who work there. Editors move around a lot, so you need to have up-to-date information.
Tip #10
Once you have a manuscript that is in the proper form — something you can learn from the book Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market — send it out to publishers and agents. When you receive rejection notices, keep them. If that princess story you wrote back in 1992 is resurrected and sold in 2010 now that pink and girly subjects are a hot trend, these will be fun to show at book talks!
Final Tip:
If your 10-year-old wrote a manuscript that you think is brilliant, remember that publishers are looking for more mature authors. (My first grader wrote and illustrated my favorite story of all time, The Three Little Tushies and the Big Fat Head. I thought it was genius, but refrained from sending it to my editor at Simon & Schuster.)
And finally – good luck. I’ve been making art my whole life, but now, at 54, I feel like I am finally getting the hang of it. Don’t give up, because eventually someone might take notice!

Single Mom Walking

iStock_000015069527XSmall.jpgDear Single Mom Walking:
My boyfriend wants me to do a lap dance for him and he even said he’d buy me a pole. He says it’s a huge turn on for him. I want to please him but is it worth the shame and the pain?
There Has To Be Another Way
Dear There Has To Be Another Way:
Well, first let me ask you is this a paying gig? If so, is he aware that the dollar bill has gone by the wayside along with affordable housing and a 5% unemployment rate?
Seriously, for the level of humiliation I would endure trying to gyrate my hips around a pole while simultaneously trying to hide my c-section scar and the fact that when I DO gyrate my hips I look like I’m having a grand mal seizure, I think tipping me in the form of a $50.00 bill, no, make that billS, would be a more of an even exchange.
Never mind the damage to my floors from the pole itself. Turns out you would need to get one that is bolted to the floor and ceiling as I read about some chick who tried to do it the cheapy way and ended up breaking her collarbone when the thing came toppling down while she was mid-slide.
In an article I read on the topic, it was recommended that should you not want to spend the cash and go with the Ikea version, it would be wise for you to put down gym mats all around the pole just in case. Too bad Ms. “honey, I think you better call an ambulance!” didn’t do a little more research on the topic huh? I’m pretty sure she would have benefited from that little bitty piece of advice.
On top of all that, I would take into consideration how long you’ve been in your relationship. Has he seen you without make-up? Helped you while you vomited your guts out? Do you at least pee in front of him or feel comfortable enough to let one rip in his presence?
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions and he is still sticking around, chances are he won’t notice when you pass out from the pain because the last time you wore heels that high was NEVER.
I also found out there are DVD’s available to teach you how to not only pole dance, but do a strip tease as well. I would only venture to purchase them if they also came with another DVD showing how I can stop myself from laughing my ass off while making an attempt to do either or, God forbid, what to do in case I actually think I’m getting good at it but when I do it in front of my boyfriend HE can’t stop from laughing HIS ass off.
It’s a tough call here. On the one hand, spicing up a relationship is always a good thing, however, you need to decide how far you’re willing to go to make that happen.
Your choice, good luck.
Check out Jessica’s take on Valentine’s Day in the current issue of Project You Magazine…

jessica bern 724 (1).JPGJessica Bern is a single mother to a 7yr old girl, a money sucking dog named Teddy and the ex wife of a man who left her for his mother. She writes at, where you she blogs all about it and where you can watch the Bernthis web series she created about a neurotic woman’s journey through her weekly visits to her therapist’s office. She also spends some of her time giving out sex/dating advice over at and has worked her vlogging magic with, Kodak and Seventh Generation.
For more from Jessica Bern, visit her blog, Bern This.

Mean Girls 2…Movie Alert

If you are a fan of the first “Mean Girls” film, you’ll want to tune into “Mean Girls 2” on ABC Family on Sunday, January 23rd at 8PM ET/PT. Be sure to stay tuned at the end of the movie for a special PSA with actress Meaghan Martin on bullying and its impact. ABC Family has partnered with STOMP Out Bullying™ to help speak to the heart of the issue. For more information on “Mean Girls 2” visit

Alma’s Goat Cheese Casserole

P1060088.jpgWhat better way to start the day than with this easy and delicious crustless egg dish. Save the calories for the coffee cake later…..
Leek and Goat Cheese Casserole:
1 leek, chopped finely-white part and a little of green
1 TBS butter
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
6 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup goat cheese
crust of 4 pieces bread, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees :
Saute chopped leeks in butter until they wilt, about 5-7 minutes. Add chopped mushrooms and cook 3-5 more minutes. Remove from heat
In a large bowl, beat eggs and milk. Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper
Add in chopped bread crusts and sprinkle in goat cheese
Pour mixture into a 9″X13″ casserole dish and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes
Serves 6-8 people
25 minutes-30 minutes
For more great recipes from Alma Schneider, visit her at Take Back the Kitchen.

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider

P1050926.jpgThere are few items one can make when snowed in, but fortunately, this carrot soup is primarily made with staples from the fridge and pantry. Great with a hot, fresh bread.
Creamy Carrot Soup:
2 cups steamed carrots
1 quart veg. broth
one chopped onion
1 TBS butter plus one tsp
1/4 cup skim milk
1 TBS flour
1/2 tsp salt
ground pepper to taste
In a soup pot, heat up TBS butter and add chopped onion. Cook and stir until translucent, 5-10 minutes.
Add one tsp butter and flour and whisk together with the onions until coated.
Add the vegetable broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the steamed carrots, milk, salt and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Puree with a blender or immersion blender, add groun pepper to taste and serve.
For more great recipes from Alma Schneider, visit her at Take Back the Kitchen.

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider

P1050835.jpgWho likes freaky vegetables? The broccoli romanesco is one of the coolest looking veggies I have ever seen, so much so, that I hate to cut it up. Alas, dinner called and I needed to make a dish so I decided to incorporate it. Here is the result and I hope you like it!
Roasted Romanesco with Garlic Buckwheat Noodles for One:
one head of Romanesco, cut up like a cauliflower into small chunks, discarding the core
olive oil or olive oil spray
1/4 cup heavy cream
one clove thinly sliced garlic
2 oz. or one serving buckwheat noodles, cooked (feel free to use any type of noodle)
crushed red pepper to taste
juice of 1/2 small lemon or a tsp or two
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
Roast pieces of Romanesco on a parchment lined cookie sheet at 450 degrees for ten minutes after you have coated them with a bit of olive oil. Remove from oven
While they are roasting, boil your buckwheat noodles (can get at most supermarkets, Whole Foods and Asian food stores), drain and set aside.
In a little saucepan, heat up the heavy cream over a low simmer and add the garlic slices, lemon juice, dash of salt and black pepper. Simmer for about 3-5 minutes until it reduces and gets a little thicker.
Place about 1/3 of roasted romanesco over the plate of pasta, top with the sauce and sprinkle on some crushed red pepper. Yum!
For more great recipes from Alma, visit her at Take Back the Kitchen.

Sigourney Weaver: Extraordinary Role Mommy

Picture 78.pngI recently got the chance to interview one of my favorite leading ladies of all time – Sigourney Weaver! As one of the most versatile actresses on the planet, Weaver has appeared in everything from sci fi blockbusters to dramas and comedies (“Working Girl” is by far, one of my fave movies of all time). Last year, she took on a challenging role when she starred in the Lifetime original movie Prayers for Bobby. The film is based on the book, Prayers for Bobby: A Mother’s Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son, by Leroy F. Aarons, which shares the true story of the life and legacy of Bobby Griffith, a young gay man who killed himself due to his mother’s and community’s religious intolerance. The film stars Ryan Kelley as Bobby Griffith and Sigourney Weaver as his mother, Mary.
“Prayers for Bobby” was nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards (Outstanding Made for Television Movie; Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie – Sigourney Weaver). Sigourney Weaver was also nominated for the 2010 Golden Globe Award, as well as the 2010 Screen Actors Guild Award.
The film was recently released on DVD and Weaver hopes it will be shared at libraries and schools across the country. She says the movie shows how a parent’s judgement can be detrimental to their child’s personal growth and self esteem. “Mary was frightened and put off by Bobby’s homosexuality – she lost her courage. Children need the courage to trust them. I’m hoping it will help send that message. Her story absolutely hits home.”
Weaver revealed that she battled self esteem issues as an adolescent and that’s part of the reason why she has tackled such powerful roles in her career. She says, “One of the reasons I’ve played so many strong roles is because I was 6 feet tall when I was 11. I was really dorky and terribly self conscious – it was a miracle that I became an actress. My parents ultimately gave me the encouragement I needed to set me free.”
While she’s won numerous awards and has incredible range as an actress, Weaver confided, “I was rejected by the Yale Drama school – they said I wasn’t talented.” Despite this early setback she says, “Something about these terrible experiences can actually be quite productive and set you in motion.” She also says that in light of her personal childhood experiences, she relates to individuals who feel like outsiders. “I have often felt like that and it’s not a good feeling. I think we’re now in the era of not fitting in.”
While her career has spanned more than three decades, Weaver has managed to juggle motherhood too. “I think my daughter is a sweetheart,” says Weaver who adds that her daughter doesn’t like her talking about her in interviews. “She’s a lovely, outgoing, wonderful person and I find that I’ve learned many lessons from her. You’ve got to be there when she needs you and you better not be there when you’re not needed. You can’t be a helicopter parent. You need to trust your child to make good choices about difficult topics.”
If you’re as a big a fan of Sigourney Weaver as I am, you’ll be thrilled to know that she’s featured in seven movies next year! She says, “As an actor, I’m trained for the theater, I can play small parts and big parts so I get sent everything. These days, men and women are interchangeable. I’ve starred in five science fiction films – all big ones. I’ve got seven movies coming out this year – horror, sci fi, action, dramas. I’m really having a blast.”
And that dear readers is why Sigourney Weaver is truly an extraordinary Role Mommy!
Time for a giveaway…
We’ve got five DVD’s of Prayers for Bobby that we are giving away. Comment now with your email address and you could be a winner! All winners will be randomly selected.

Enter to Win a Fisher Price Bigfoot Toy!

Here at Role Mommy, we’re always happy to share the inside scoop on how you can win free toys for your kids. And from now until December 15, Fisher Price is giving consumers the chance to win one of their hottest toys of the season….BIGFOOT! In fact, while you’re hurriedly trying to get every gift on your list, you can enter to win a free Big Foot – all you have to do is install the app on Facebook, post your Bigfoot mood to your profile, and it prompts you to enter the contest. 10 winners will capture their very own Bigfoot the Monster toy from Fisher-Price®! The sweeps ends on December 15th so enter now and you could be a winner! To find out more about Bigfoot, check out the video below:

Full disclosure: This compensated post is sponsored by Big Fuel.

Organized Thanksgiving Entertainment

j0409578.jpgWith Thanksgiving only a few days away, let’s get you organized with some added ingredients that will spice up your Thanksgiving family time. These ideas will get your entire family sharing around your Thanksgiving dinner table by playing some simple games and activities.
To start, come up with several trivia questions that both young and old can answer. For example, find trivia questions about the first Thanksgiving including historical facts or traditions that have been passed down through our country. A few trivia questions that come to mind are, “Which President issued the first Thanksgiving Day proclamation?” or “What food was served at the first Thanksgiving feast?” or facts pertaining to the writings in the first Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863. For most kids, this will be an area where they will probably dominate and ultimately win since they have recently learned facts concerning Thanksgiving in the classroom.
Creating other ways to get the entire family sharing doesn’t always have to be about Thanksgiving. Tell family stories about your most embarrassing moment or your high and low for the year.
At our home when it comes to eating Thanksgiving dinner, everyone sits in random spots. I have taken advantage of this in recent years and have placed a small gift card under one of the many chairs seated around the table. Towards the end of the meal, I ask everyone to look under his or her chair. Surprise! Someone receives a small gift.
One of my favorite memories during the holidays is when we get out our old 8mm film to watch (our silent but colored movies). My older brother often comically narrates the silent movement on each person’s lips and adlibs what the other person might be saying. We never really know for sure what is being said in our home movies. So all my memories of what is actually going on are probably skewed. However, it has been fun not only to see and remember the stories of when I was younger, but to laugh at all the hilarious stories my brother adlibbed…. whether they are true or not.
This Thanksgiving, try serving up some great fun by digging out your home videos and cooking up some interesting questions around your Thanksgiving table.
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IMG_3957_retouched.jpgLorraine Brock is a professional organizer, family coach, speaker, and founder and owner of “Get Organized!” “Get Organized!” is a professional organizing company in the Dallas, Texas area. “Get Organized!” specializes in organizing and de-cluttering homes as well as implementing systems in the home for better family management.
A popular media guest, Lorraine has appeared on Dallas’ two top morning television shows: Good Morning Texas and Good Day Fox, and has been featured on various radio outlets. She has been hallmarked in many local, regional, and national print and online magazines, such as the Dallas Morning News, The North Texas Kids Magazine,, and Daily Candy Kids. To get more helpful advice from Lorraine, visit her blog Get Organized!