Saturday, September 3, 2011

"Don't Be Crazy," editor Martha Mihalik

[Here are my first day notes from the OCCBWW conference, but I am saving them to now because before you send out to an editor or agent, you ned to get the writing done right first. If you are a memeber of Writers Speak, this is a repeat.]
-Martha Mihalik, Greenwillow Books- editor

When she gets a mss, she asks. Do I want to keep reading or watch TV?
Do I like this?
Most importanmt considerations:
All three must be supported by strong writing
Pay attention to language, sentences, pace
SHOWing not telling

Good voice is the way to tell your story. Language, structure
Picture book voices are sincere and silly, not sing song rhyme. Subtle, not forced. A comfortable voice.

READ as much as you can in the genre for which you work!!

Voice has an opinion and a perspective for the story being told. Voice is what makes this story unique. If it can be told by anybody, the manuscript goes into the reject pile.

Character Do we see him/her? Does this person have flaws? How is “character” revealed? Through the objects around them? Actions? Opinions? If a character has a quirk it’s ok to use surprising detail to reveal this

Plot internal and external. Something must be at stake internally . Plot is driven by the character, and not predictable. Should be age appropriate- something the kid should be attracted to. Should NOT be message driven. There should BE a message, but simmering beneath the surface.

Picture books
Are under 1000 words, 32-35 pages. Should get to the conflict by or on the 3 rd page.

Novels should have conflict by the 3 rd chapter, but you want the reader to keep reading beyond the first chapter

Authenticity- stories should have a ring of authenticity.
Read it out loud!!
Does the voice sound authentic? Age level appropriate? Do not let the adult voice leak in.

MarketingWho is your audience?
What is the hook?
Is there anything else like it out there?
Why? Or why not?
Does this book fit the Greenwillow (or whatever publisher you send it to) list?
Is the writing sharp? Is this a different spin on an existing idea?

AcquisitionsAn editior she prioritizes mss, looks at profit and loss. Publishing is a business, not an art. Ms Mihalik often does not read the cover letter. Letter should be SHORT.
Don’t be crazy.

Happy Writing.

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