These Breaking In To Children’s Publishing – Tips and Resources come from the “Breaking In” panel at CANSCAIP’s 2016 Packaging you Imagination Conference (yes, I was one of the panelists!).
1) KIDLIT CONFERENCES
OLA SuperConference (Ontario Library Association) – Feb. 1-4, 2017, Toronto
One of the biggest conferences in Canada, you’ll find most–if not all–of the kidlit publishers.
Reading for the Love of It – Feb. 23-24, 2017, Toronto
A large conference, where you will find most Canadian publishers; the audience is teachers and librarians.
Telling Tales Festival – Sun., Sept. 18, 2016, Rockton, ON
Eden Mills Writers’ Festival – Sept. 15-18, 2016, Eden Mills, ON
SCBWI – has New York, Los Angeles and Ottawa conferences yearly – also has contests available to attendees where the winner gets their book presented to agents/publishers.
2) WRITING CLASSES
George Brown College – Continuing Ed, Writing Children’s Fiction
Children’s Writing at the University of Toronto
Ryerson – Writing for the Children’s Market
3) KIDLIT WRITING CONTESTS
CANSCAIP Writing for Children Contest
Mslexia Children’s Novel Contest – only runs every few years – probably not until 2020 now – but worth checking out.
Chicken House/Times – Run by Barry Cunningham, who is best known for signing JK Rowling.
SCWBI Emerging Voices Award – for writers from underrepresented ethnic/cultural backgrounds.
4) LISTS OF PUBLISHERS AND AGENTS
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre Publisher’s List – comprehensive list of Canadian children’s book publishers. Includes submission tips, publisher contact info., genres, and submission guidelines.
The Children’s Writers and Artists’ Yearbook – this is published annually, and lists hundreds of agents/publishers worldwide, as well as featuring essays on getting published.
@inkyelbows — Follow Canadian author/illustrator and kidlit expert Debbie Ohi on Twitter and check out her list of Publishers and Agents on Twitter.
Association of Canadian Publishers – list of members. Search by category: Aboriginal & First Nations, Children’s Books, Non-Fiction, Teen & Young Adult, and more.
5) WRITERS’ GROUPS AND ASSOCIATIONS
CANSCAIP – Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers
Monthly speakers — including tons of published authors who will be only too willing to help newbies with advice and information. If you’re not published yet, you pay a bit less per year to join than people who are published.
CCBC – Canadian Children’s Book Centre
Not expensive to join, and it’s a truly wonderful and worthwhile not-for-profit organization. They do many things, including running programs to get books and Canadian presenters in front of children, such as the TD Book Week author tour.
TWUC – The Writers’ Union of Canada
Just four awesome things they offer: (1) New members get access to some free legal (ie, contract) advice. (2) Their “Ontario Writers in the Schools” program subsidizes your presentation fees when you do classroom visits. (3) Each member can have a member page — which teachers and librarians frequently access when they’re looking for in-class presenters. (4). They also host a list of publishers and agents. Also – when you do get an offer from a publisher or agent – they have ‘model’ contracts that you can check your own offer against.
SCBWI – Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
Organizes conferences, local meetings, provides grants and awards, advice, a magazine, promotion of members’ books and a listserv to connect with other authors.
6) QUERY ADVICE
Query Shark – a resource site of query letters
Manuscript Wishlist – this website collects together agents/publisher’s wishlists – as well as having a lot of general query advice.
Twitter – follow agents you are interested in on Twitter. Many tweet what makes them reject/request manuscripts, and you can avoid mistakes and hone your own query to attract attention this way.
#MSWL (stands for Manuscript Wish List — what’s on agents’ wish lists)
ARBookFinder – find details on competing books in your niche. Interest level, word count, ATOS book level, Topic/subtopic.
Twitter Pitch contests
There are many hashtags for pitch contests from time to time, where agents/publishers ’like’ book pitches, and in doing so request a query.
#pitdark – for darker manuscripts
#DVpit – for diverse pitches
Query Spreadsheet Examples
|Date||Publisher||Publisher contact info||Submission method (email/form/snail mail)||Why I picked this publisher||Follow-up||Reply|
|Agent Name||Agency||Submission Guidelines||Reasons for Sending to them||Any worries? Reasons not?||Contact details||Date Sent||Reply?|
7) Critique Groups
Many critique relationships last years, as the writers develop and grow – they often start through online groups, classes, or people who meet at conferences. Find people whose opinion you respect – and they can be your Beta readers and crit partners.
Kidcrit – Run by Marsha Skrypuch, many CANSCAIPers can be found there.
Online Writing Workshop – useful for YA science fiction/fantasy writers.
SCWBI’s Blueboard – some of this board is only available to SCBWIs members – it also has a lot of information & resources on other aspects of breaking in.http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php
There are also manuscript appraisal/critique services — some of these will even help put you in touch with agents — but they are often expensive so do your research on these — some are better than others, and you don’t want to waste your money.
International Festival of Authors
Word on the Street
Festival of Trees
Eden Mills Writers’ Festival
Telling Tales Festival
Breaking In To Children’s Publishing – Tips and Resources Panel
Moderator: Joyce Grant’s debut novel, Tagged Out, is an MG baseball novel. (Feb. 2016, Lorimer). Gabby: Wonder Girl, is the third book in the G abby picture book series (Aug. 2016, illo: Jan Dolby, Fitzhenry & Whiteside).
Mahak Jain is the author of Maya, a picture book about the power of storytelling and imagination. She completed her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Guelph and was previously the Managing Editor at Owlkids and at Lobster Press. www.mahakjain.com | @kveenly
Kate Blair’s debut Transferral is set in an alternate UK, where criminals are punished by having the diseases of the innocent transferred to them. It has been nominated for a MYRCA and optioned for a potential TV series by the producers of Orphan Blackand Killjoys. www.kateblair.com
Caroline Fernandez is the author of Boredom Busters(Silver Birch Honor Book) and More Boredom Busters.