Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Untold Secrets of Writing Best Selling Children's Books

Ever wondered how the most successful children's book writers get their ideas? The answer may surprise you.

Most children's books are based on the same exact story - good versus evil.

Ex. Harry Potter vs Voldomort. Cinderella vs her wicked stepmother. Pinnochio's conscience vs. outside influences.

Next we add a protagonist and an antagonist.

Ex. Don't we love it when Harry Potter and Malfoy get into it? Or when Hansel and Gretel turn the tables on the witch?

Finally a best selling story needs conflict and a big problem that the main character needs to overcome.

Ex. If Harry lets Lord Voldemort come back without a fight, the fate of the magic world could be at risk.

Ex. If Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire don't outsmart Count Olaf then their fortunes and their lives might be at risk.

Most inexperienced writers spend so much time thinking about the setting, the scenery and the color of their characters hair that they forget that the plot is what editors and their audience is looking for.

Hogwarts is a wonderful school. But who would care about it without Harry Potter and his friends.

The castle in Sleeping Beauty would just be another castle in the middle of nowhere without the princess and her prince.

And the three little pigs houses could have been made of snow, cotton or peanuts for all we would care without three clever little pigs and a wolf.

Kids love it when good triumphs over evil. Give them a story they can cheer over.

Also spend time really getting to know your characters. Create a history for each character, even if most of their histories will never see the inside of your book.

Your characters must seem real. Your audience must be able to relate to them and really care about what happens to them.

That in a nutshell is how you write a best selling children's book. The editing, minor scenic details and hand wringing anxiety can come after you finish the book.

About The Author

Caterina Christakos is a published author and children's book writer. Learn how to write a children's book in 30 days or less at:

Friday, December 30, 2005

Freelance Writing Markets, Poetry Markets - Highly Paid -v- Unpaid

Amazing as it may sound, there is a real shortage of good writers and poets. Try telling that to the thousands of writers and poets who get daily rejection slips.

As far as they are concerned, writing is virtually impossible to break into no matter how hard they seem to try.

There may be a number of reasons why they don't succeed:

Their writing is not up to standard - as far as the particular publishers or editors are concerned;

They don't bother polishing their writing before submission;

They knock on the wrong doors - sending materials on a random basis;

They have failed to do basic research;

The list goes on.

1000s of publishers

There are of course thousands of publishers, especially online, who are willing to publish your work without payment. Such publishers can't or won't pay writers or poets.

Professional writers on the other hand command handsome fees. They make a good living out of writing.

Anyone can become a professional writer. You just need the determination to succeed. If you don't have a natural gift, you can learn to write well. This can be by self-study, online, or at a college or school near you.

High quality professional writers demand anything from $1000 to $5000 per project - and the best earn substantially more. A project may involve just one page or a few poems.

Why do most aspiring writers and aspiring poets fail?

In a recent survey conducted on behalf of, it became apparent that most writers and poets were not willing to invest time or effort in training or acquiring the necessary skills.

The survey revealed that most writers and poets were happy to plod along by trial and error rather than investing in a decent course. They accordingly fail to reap the rewards that are there for the taking.

They remain amateur writers and poets whilst their professional colleagues cream off the best paid writing markets.

The survey compared writers and poets to other professions. Lawyers, Accountants, Doctors, etc., are all highly paid. They all undergo training before the rewards are forthcoming. Yet, most writers and poets believe that the riches will come to them without spending $1 on training or developing skills.

One per cent. of writers or poets may get lucky. They may have been "born writers or poets" - they succeed without any training. The rest slog away - hoping that one day they may make some money from writing.

The good news

The good news is that there are 1000s of paid writing markets that are waiting to be exploited. There are more assignments than writers or poets.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Killer Press Kits - Press Kits That Demand Attention

So,m you've had your book published or you've gone the self-published route, but what do you do now?

You contact a newspaper, radio or television station requesting an interview and they ask you to send them a press kit.

First of all, don't panic. A press kit is not some magical entity that only those published by the big houses can have. You can create an affordable and great looking press kit on your own.

Here are some things that you can include in your press kit to send to interested reviewers and interviewers.

  1. An author's bio detailing all your professional writing credits, contest wins, short stories, articles etc. A little bit about what you enjoy in your spare time, but most of it should be about your writing life.

  2. Include the clippings (or photocopies of them) from newspapers or magazines where your articles have appeared. If you've only ever written for the web, print out a copy of the article and mention the website where it was selected to appear. Don't include your own website as a writing credit.

  3. An author photograph, as professional as possible. A head and shoulders shot is usal. Don't send your latest holiday snaps.

  4. A picture of your book's cover, or postcard or poster of it.

  5. Any previous good reviews you have had for your book.

  6. Any speaking engagements or booksigning events that you have coming up. Or the details of previous ones and how successful they were.

  7. You could also inlcude a previous interview, it might save them some time and at least you know what sort of questions might be asked of you.

If you can afford it, a nice presentation folder for your press kit goes down well, but it isn't a necessity. On your website, you can also list the things above as a virtual press kit, but if a newspaper etc. ask for a press kit, don't just send them to the website. They would probably prefer everything in hard copy, but it doesn't hurt to ask if they would accept an electronic copy.

About The Author

Annette Gisby is a novelist and freelance writer. Her articles have appeared both in print and online, and to date she has three fiction books published, Silent Screams, Drowning Rapunzel and Shadows of the Rose. Her non-fiction book, Writing the Dream has lots more hints and tips for writers. Please visit Annette's website for more information on her books:

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

10 Tips for Effective Proofreading

Proofreading may not be terribly fun, but it's one of the most important parts of writing.

Have you ever read a web page or a document that had typos, grammatical errors, and punctuation mistakes? This reflects badly on you and your business, and you could easily lose a customer over a simple spelling mistake!

Here are some tips for quick and effective proofreading:

1. Wait several hours before proofreading. Otherwise you might be thinking about what you just wrote, rather than watching for typos and punctuation errors.

2. Eliminate distractions. This is very detailed work so you need to be focused.

3. Print out a copy of your work, rather than reading it on a computer screen. To make it even easier, print a double-spaced draft copy.

4. Read the document aloud. This helps to highlight punctuation errors and missing words.

5. Use a piece of colored paper as a guide. This will help to keep your eyes on the line you're working on. If you don't have any colored paper, use a ruler.

6. Read backwards for spelling mistakes. Yes, that's right! You'll find spelling errors much easier if you're going from right to left. Otherwise you might unconsciously start reading, and not "proof" reading.

7. Use a different colored pen such as green or red to make your correction marks. These colors are much easier to see than black or blue.

8. Carefully check numbers and totals. Refigure all calculations and look for misplaced commas and decimal points.

9. If you have a lengthy document to proofread, rest your eyes every 10 to 15 minutes.

10. When you're absolutely sure there are no mistakes, have a partner check your work. Sometimes all it takes is a second pair of eyes.

About The Author

Jean Hanson is the author of the eBook, Virtualize Your Business . For tips on learning how to virtualize your business and a FREE REPORT, go to

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

3 Ways to Find Your Niche as a Freelance Writer

To make a six-figure income as a freelance writer, to need to be an expert. You need your name to jump to people's lips when a particular job or challenge comes up.

"Direct mail for software? You should get in touch with Bob. That's what he does." Insert your own name and specialty where appropriate.

You can't get that kind of awareness or referral if you're someone who just writes about anything in any medium. Nobody is going to believe that you are a trusted expert in absolutely everything.

So how do you determine a viable 'niche'? You have three choices...

1. Niche by industry...

That is to say, work within a particular industry. For years I worked with pharmaceutical clients. All my clients were drug companies. I wrote direct mail, brochures, sales aids, video scripts. I wrote anything, so long as it was about pharmaceuticals. That was my niche. And my clients knew that I was knowledgeable in that area. So they came to me.

2. Niche by medium...

In this scenario, you make a particular medium your specialty. After my years with the pharmaceutical industry, I decided to specialize as a direct mail copywriter. And for that period, about 15 years, I ONLY write direct mail and associated inserts, fliers, postcards etc. I was a direct response specialist. And I wrote for all kinds of different industries - financial, cable TV, magazine publishers and more.

My specialty, my niche, was as a direct response copywriter. Other writers have built their careers around writing annual reports, radio scripts, white papers etc.

3. 'Double-Niche'

When you double-niche you are making a specialty of serving a single industry through a single medium. For instance, writing direct response for the financial industry. And ONLY writing direct response for the financial industry.

In conclusion...

As I said at the beginning, you can't be an expert at everything...not within every industry, not with every medium. So you need to take some steps to find your niche.

How do you choose? First, know yourself. Know what you are good at. Know what you like.

Also, be smart. Create your niche where the money is. Find your niche where there is a strong market.

And be smart about the size of your niche. Don't go so narrow that you're forever starved of work. Don't go so broad that people view you as a Jack or Jill of all trades, a generalist.

About The Author

Nick Usborne is a freelance writer, author, speaker and advocate of good writing. For more articles and resources on making money as a freelance writer, visit his site,

Monday, December 26, 2005

Six Tips for Submitting Fiction

You can learn a lot about what it takes to place a story in an ezine by starting up one of your own.

Last month we started work on a new ezine for writers, which we intended to use to publish high-quality, contemporary fiction, from writers all over the world. We placed a few adverts asking for submissions of just that. What we got was a revelation.

As a writer myself, I know how competitive the market is. Even non-paying markets are deluged by wannabe writers desperate for a by-line and some publicity. Competition, I had thought, would surely lead to a high quality of submissions, with every writer determined to submit only their very best work. Not so.

Of the handful of submissions we received the day after the adverts went out, only around four were fiction. One was a how to write style article. One was an essay on the day my gran died . Two were stories about vampires. One guy just sent us his CV in Arabic.

Lesson one, then: read the guidelines carefully. If the market you re aiming at publishes fiction, then no matter how brilliant your essay or article is, it s not going to be accepted. Neither is your CV .

Lesson two, I hardly even need mention: If the publication is in English, don t send your submission in Arabic, on the off-chance that the poor, beleaguered publisher will understand it. Simple.

Having deleted the non-fiction submissions, I moved onto the good stuff . Or so I thought. Of the four remaining pieces of writing, none had been proofread too carefully. One story made reference to a businessman clenching the deal. One made frequent use of the word teh" and had apparently random. Punctuation. A bit like. This. The other two were stories about vampires.

Lesson three: Proofread. Or, ideally, get someone else to do it for you. Any writer knows that once you ve worked on a piece of writing, you become blind to its mistakes. You can proof it as many times as you like, but you ll still just see what you think is there, rather than what actually is there. In any artistic endeavour, a fresh pair of eyes is essential in providing a little bit of clarity and perspective. For this reason, I present:

Lesson four: constructive criticism is your friend. There are a lot of aspiring writers our there. Get together with one, even if it s only by email, and swap stories with them. Chances are they ll be able to point out something about your story that you ve missed. They may have some knowledge about your subject matter that you lack for example, the fact that it s called a bass guitar, not a base guitar , as one enlightening submission had it.

Finally, a quick note about bio s. When you send your work to an ezine, of course you want a little something in return other than cold hard cash. You re looking for publicity, and your author bio is the ideal way to do it. Keep it simple, though. Of all of the submissions we ve received so far, the one that sticks out the most is the one from the author with the most impressive credentials of the lot. So impressive, in fact, that her bio ran on for four A4 pages.

The problem was, her work stood out for the wrong reasons. She had certainly been published in a lot of magazines (I know, because she d listed every single one of them) and won a huge amount of competitions (yep, she d listed all of those too. Every one of them.) , but by the time I d waded through all of the story titles, publication dates and other non-essential info, I was heartily tired of her. Her bio was four pages long: her story only two. When that happens, you know you ve gone into overkill.

Essentially, too, after such a tremendous build-up, I was expecting something utterly spectacular which her writing failed to deliver. It seemed almost as if she was trying to use her bio to persuade me to publish her the story was just an afterthought.

Lesson five: let your writing do the talking. When it comes to biographical info, less is more. I want to read your story, not a breath-by-breath account of the last twenty years of your life. Keep it simple, keep it short.

And lesson number six? Well, if you re thinking of submitting your writing to a publisher, consider submitting it to us, first the Hot Igloo proofreading service, at

About The Author

Amber McNaught is a proofreader, writer and editor, as well as co-owner of website development firm Hot Igloo Productions. Read more articles like this by subscribing to the Hot Igloo Newsletter at

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Storyteller

New Book Offers Supernatural Tales Involving Everyday People

Martha Whittington invites readers to take a break from the doldrums of daily routine and delve into a world where ordinary lives are blindsided by the bizarre. The Storyteller: Volume I (now available through AuthorHouse) provides a feast of paranormal delights that satisfy the imagination.

Comprised of six intriguing tales, The Storyteller delves into the lives of a colorful variety of people who suddenly find themselves in unsettling situations. In The Fennigan Case, two news reporters step across the threshold of a creepy house and into another dimension. A Unique Team follows another investigative journalist as he plunges into international intrigue. Readers explore the mind of a psychic teenager in The Hidden Knowledge and meet a wicked woman who holds an entire town hostage with her dark magic in The Witch . Two brothers endure tragedy in a remote corner of the world in Sand, and a couple experiences any parent s worst nightmare in The Gifted Child .

Throughout The Storyteller, Whittington weaves a macabre tapestry of drama, suspense and fast-paced action. From the dangers of the Egyptian desert to the cold streets of New York, she takes readers on a thrilling journey along the knife-edge between this world and the unknown. A captivating read for fans of the disturbingly weird. The Storyteller delivers thrills and chills at each turn of the page.

For further review on this book, please go to: or e-mail us at:

About The Author

Martha Whittington
Born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, Whittington set out to see the world when she was 21. She holds a Degree in Communications and a Master s in Public Relations, and she speaks fluent Spanish, English, German and French. Whittington comes from a family of published authors. At a young age, she wrote short stories that won awards in international contests. She currently lives in Houston, where she continues to nurture her passion for writing.