David Lubar

Q: I've just written a children's book. Now what do I do?

A: Having mastered one area, it's best to move on. Artists stagnate if they stay still. Try composing a symphony or, if you have access to chisels and a large block of marble, think about creating a sculpture.

Q: No, I mean I wrote a children's book and now I want to get it published.

A: That's easy. All the research and legwork has already been done for you. Just find an online writer's group and post a question. The writers will be happy to do all your market research for you. That's why they're online. They'll also be delighted to get you the name and address of an editor, along with her home phone number. If you ask nicely, one of the writers might even come to the house and lick the envelope for you so you don't have to risk getting a paper cut on your tongue. Established professionals have very tough tongues.

Q: Do I need to find my own illustrator?

A: Heavens no. This is a common misconception created by the fact that in the old day many books had a separate author and illustrator. Technology has changed all that. Just make crude sketches of what you have in mind. Publishers have special software that can take any sketch, no matter how elementary, and turn it into finished art. They are currently working on similar software for written works, so pretty soon you won't have to worry too much about how your manuscript sounds when you send it out.

Q: How do I keep people from stealing my ideas?

A: The best approach is to submit work that doesn't contain any ideas. This way, you can relax while you wait for that exciting phone call from the editor.

Q: Should I mention how much my neighbor's kids loved my story?

A: Absolutely. This is crucial to the success of your marketing effort. If your neighbor has no children, feel free to lie. In today's competitive market, publishers even want to know how your neighbor's pets liked your book, especially pets of the mammalian class, though birds and fish aren't completely ignored.

Q. I'd like to quit my job. Can I make a lot of money writing children's books?

A. Certainly. Most children's authors are wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. In fact, they earn so much money that, for security purposes, they keep a low profle. That's why most people don't recognize the names of many of these writers. Even Bill Gates has been heard to say, "I guess I'm doing okay financially, but I sure wish I'd written a children's book instead of an operating system."

Q: Do I need an agent?

A: Certainly. Fortunately, there are many agents out there who specialize in handling writers who've just written a children's book. Even more fortunately, these agents advertise very actively, so they are easy to find. Look on the inside cover of writer's magazines and matchbooks. Look for someone with a nickname like "Lucky," "Sharky," or "Mister Book Doctor." Once you've gotten your first sale, you can dump this agent and get the guy who handles Tom Clancy.

"CHILDREN'S WRITING FAQ" Copyright © 1996 by David Lubar

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