By Stephanie Bearce
As kidlit authors it can be a challenge to get our books into the hands of our intended readers. Most four-year-olds aren't browsing Amazon for the newest picture book and ten-year-olds aren't really supposed to drive themselves to the bookstore. We need brilliant parents, librarians, and teachers to love our stories and get them into the hands of our readers.
There are many avenues for making these connections. book reviews, blog tours, speaking engagements, school and library visits, podcasts, and newsletters, to name just a few. Too many for just one blog post! (Hint, hint, we'll be giving away more promotional tips in the next few weeks.) Today we are going to concentrate on reviews.
Getting your book into the hands of reviewers is critical. Most publishers will make sure your book is sent to Horn Book, Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. But it's always a good idea to check with your editor and the publicity team. Nobody wants their book to be the one to "slip through the crack." YOU are the best champion of your work. So make sure you know it is getting out into the world.
There are a number of great blogs that review children's books and it is worth your time and effort to get a galley to them for review. In the waaay back olden days, you would have needed a copy of your book, but now with the miracle of the internet - you can send electronic galleys!! (with the blessing of your publisher, of course.)
Check out these blogs - and if you know of others - leave a comment! We'll add them to the list!!
The Children's Book Review
Happily Ever Elephants
Nerdy Book Club
Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Mr. Schu Reads
Here Wee Read
From the Mixed Up Files
Only Picture Books
The Crimson Review
By Peggy Thomas
I am frequently the last in our group to hear publishing news like who won an award or when an editor moved to another publishing house. So, I asked my fellow Ninjas where they get their information. Which resources, publishing and otherwise, do they rely on? Here is what they had to say:
General Publishing News
Inspiration for Ideas
This is just a partial list. Please add your favorites in the comments below and we will create a resource list on our website that you can bookmark.
by Christine Liu-Perkins
Are you finding it hard to get back into writing like I am? After the holidays, traveling, a mild case of Covid-19, and several rejections, my writing brain is unfocused and under-motivated. How to get recharged? Here's some things I'm doing that might help you, too.
The Case for STEM: New Study Shows Reading and Math Skills are More Intertwined Than We Ever Imagined
By Wendy Hinote Lanier
In general, writers are readers. Most of us have libraries of books in our favorite genres. And because we are children’s writers, a good portion of our personal libraries are probably children’s books. We’ve supported reading programs and cheerfully declared “Readers are leaders!” for decades. And as it turns out, we were more right than we knew!
A new study (2021) conducted at the University of Buffalo has made some surprising discoveries about how the cooperative areas of the brain responsible for reading skill are also at work during unrelated activities. These unrelated activities include math. Who knew?
In previous studies, Christopher McNorgan (PhD and assistant professor of psychology at UB) had successfully identified a biomarker for ADHD. In 2021 he took on a new study to explore the possibility of identifying children with dyslexia based on how the brain is wired for reading. As with the previous study, he used a novel deep learning approach through neuroimaging and computational modeling.
After the first set of data McNorgan had identified dyslexia in 14 good readers and 14 poor readers with 94% accuracy. But to determine if his findings could be generalized, he chose a math study which included a mental multiplication task to measure the functional connectivity from the second set of data. Functional connectivity is a description of how the brain is virtually wired from moment to moment. It changes depending on the task at hand.
McNorgan was shocked to discover that, even though his test subjects were involved in different tasks (language and math), the connectivity fingerprint was the same! And he was able to identify dyslexia with 94% accuracy whether testing reading or math.
“These results show that the way our brain is wired for reading is actually influencing how the brain functions for math,” says McNorgan. “That says your reading skill is going to affect how you tackle problems in other domains and helps us better understand children with difficulties in both reading and math.”
What this tells us is the development of early math and reading skills are intertwined. If the same pathways of the brain are being used, it stands to reason we can improve both by using opportunities to teach math and reading together. Engaging in “math talk,” telling stories, and reading books with math (and other STEM concepts) are great ways to promote the development of math and reading skills.
For the last couple of years, we’ve seen a greater emphasis on STEM books. As nonfiction writers we already knew they were important for kids. Now we have some hard scientific evidence that integrating STEM topics in our work has an even greater impact than we first imagined. That means the work we do can help kids be successful at reading and math and possibly other areas, too. Isn’t that the best?
For me personally, this comes as great news since my newest picture book is a math-based tale about number doubles and days of the week. Too Many Pigs in the Pool (Sleeping Bear Press, April 2022) is informational fiction, but I’m loving the idea that although reading and math are very different tasks, they use the same functional networks in the brain. Score!! I think we nonfiction writers suspected this all along. Now we have proof!
McNorgan, Chris. "The Connectivity Fingerprints of Highly-Skilled and Disordered Reading Persist Across Cognitive Domains." Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience 15 (2021). doi:10.3389/fncom.2021.590093.
 University at Buffalo. "Read to Succeed -- in Math; Study Shows How Reading Skill Shapes More Than Just Reading." ScienceDaily. Last modified March 11, 2021. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210311142044.htm.
 Harris, Barbara, and Dana Peterson. Developing Math Skills in Early Childhood. Mathematica-MPR.com, 2017. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED587415.pdf.
By Pat Miller
There it is! A fresh year—2022. Did you resolve to put more attention into your writing? Help is on its way when you join February’s NF Fest 2022.
This is the third year that NF Fest will inspire, educate, and support you. For 28 days, a writer or illustrator will post. You will get up close to Melissa Stewart’s revision journey for a recent book. Teresa Robeson and Kirsten Larson will talk to you about writing graphic nonfiction. Anita Sanchez will help you know when it’s time to quit on a project, and Sarah Albee will help you find a focus in the midst of your reams of research. Look for posts from Beth Anderson, Duncan Tonatiuh, Paula Yoo, Doreen Rappaport, and many more.
And it is all free! But it’s also a challenge!
The challenge of NF Fest is to read at least 20 of the posts and complete 20 of the suggested activities. You will pledge that you’ve done so at the beginning of March.
Prizes will be awarded in a random drawing of those completing the challenge. You are encouraged to comment on the posts, but it isn’t necessary.
No registration is necessary. Simply show up to nffest.com on February 1 to get started. Read the posts and complete at least 20 of the activities suggested in the posts. You will have a record page to keep track. At the end, on the honor system, you’ll be asked to comment if you have met the challenge.
Stick with NF Fest and you will surely find yourself back on track with your nonfiction writing. For more companionship and advice, all posts from NF Fest 2020 and NF Fest 2021 are archived below in the sidebar to help while you wait.
We even have a badge to show your commitment to all your friends on social media!
By Stephanie Bearce
It's a bright shiny new year. Time to make writing goals, start new projects, and research new markets. One writing opportunity that I'm going to try this year is the magazine and ezine market.
Not every topic is destined to be a book. Some are too narrow or specific for the book market, but they may make a great article for a magazine. Sometimes when I am researching for a book, I find interesting side stories that get left on the cutting room floor. These are stories that I may turn into magazine or ezine articles.
If you are interested in expanding into magazine, or ezines, take a look at the list I have compiled. Some of the magazines have specific topics and deadlines for queries. For example, Cobblestone magazine is looking for queries about frontier stories and the deadline is February 15. Faces magazine is requesting stories about Sweden and queries are due by March 21.
Happy 2022! May you have a year of publishing success.
Print and Ezine Publishers
Balloons Lit Journal (reopening for submissions 02/22) https://www.balloons-lit-journal.com/submission.html
Bedtime Story - https://www.the-office.com/bedtime-story/publish.htm
Brilliant Star -https://brilliantstarmagazine.org/uploads/about/FAQs/Submission_Guidelines_2018_ajr.pdf
Brio - https://media.focusonthefamily.com/brio/pdf/brio-writers-guidelines-2019.pdf
Cast of Wonders - https://www.castofwonders.org/submissions/
Caterpillar - https://www.thecaterpillarmagazine.com/a1-page.asp?ID=4150&page=5
Click - https://cricketmedia.com/click-submission-guidelines
Clubhouse - https://www.focusonthefamily.com/clubhouse-magazine/about/submission-guidelines/
Cobblestone - https://cricketmedia.com/cobblestone-submission-guidelines
Cricket - https://cricketmedia.com/cricket-submission-guidelines/
Enchanted Conversation - https://www.fairytalemagazine.com/p/submissions.html#.X45Bs-17mdR
Faces - https://cricketmedia.com/faces-submission-guidelines/
Fun for Kidz - https://funforkidz.com/pages/submission-guidelines
Guide - https://guidemagazine.org/writersguidelines
Hunger Mountain - https://hungermtn.org/general-guidlines/
Jack and Jill and Humpty Dumpty - https://uskidsmags.com/writers-guidelines/
Ladybug - https://cricketmedia.com/ladybug-submission-guidelines/
Muse - https://cricketmedia.com/muse-submission-guidelines/
Spacesports and Spidersilk - https://www.hiraethsffh.com/spaceports-spidersilk
Smarty Pants - https://smartypantsmagazineforkids.com/submission-guidelines/
Spider - https://cricketmedia.com/spider-submission-guidelines/
Storytime - https://www.storytimemagazine.com/submission-guidelines-for-writers/
St. Mary’s Messenger - https://stmarysmessenger.com/submission-guidelines/
Young Explorers Adventure Guide - https://dreamingrobotpress.com/young-explorers-adventure-guide-submissions/
Youth Imagination - https://youthimagination.org/index.php/yi-submissions
Zizzle Lit - https://zizzlelit.com/submit/
By Nancy Churnin
Sometimes when you feel overwhelmed by the demands of the season, stop and smell the ideas.
My book, The Queen and the First Christmas Tree, Queen Charlotte’s Gift To England (illustrated by Luisa Uribe, Albert Whitman) was kicked off by a question: how and when did the Christmas tree became popular? The book is the true story of kind Queen Charlotte, who introduced the tradition at a party for 100 children at Windsor Castle in 1800.
But there are many ways to seek out seasonal nonfiction ideas. Consider these three books by Nonfiction Ninjas:
Lisa Amstutz's Applesauce Day is a story about making applesauce. What favorite foods do you eat during the holidays you celebrate? What are your traditions surrounding making those foods that make them special? Books about the significance of making different foods have won great acclaim, including Watercress by Andrea Wang and Fry Bread: A native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard.
When your family opens presents, something may come into your home that could be book-worthy! Susan Holt Kralovansky's We Really, Really Want a Dog! gives a fun but clear-eyed view on what's involved in adopting a dog. Toys can inspire wonderful read, too. Consider Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton and The Marvelous Thing that Came from a Spring: the Accidental Invention of the Toy that Swept the Nation by Gilbert Ford.
Even if you’re too busy to do anything but get through the holidays but this year, keep a notepad and pen handy to jot down moments of wonder and curiosity. That could end up being the best present you give yourself!
By Stephanie Bearce
Are you an author trying to get your manuscript published? You've done everything right - revised, rewritten, sent it through critique groups. Everyone agrees, your story is ready to go!
So how do you get your book published?
Should you start the agent search? Look for publishers? Start on a new project?
My advice is all of the above.
Whenever I finish one project, I immediately start on a new one. Career writers know that you can't depend on every manuscript getting published. You need to keep generating new material. Plus, both agents and editors like to know what else you have in your files!
If you are at the point where you have a finished novel, or a couple of full nonfiction proposals for MG/YA, or three to four perfected picture books, then you are ready for the agent search. But the reality is - finding an agent takes a lot of work and TIME. And sometimes, especially when writing nonfiction, your project can be time sensitive. You need to get it in front of an editor as soon as possible. In this case you may want to submit directly to open publishers.
I have an amazing agent and I am grateful to be her client. But before I signed with my agent, I sold 28 books on my own. (and this wasn't a hundred years ago) It is possible to sell your work directly to editors. You may find that getting an offer on your manuscript will even help you find an agent!
Submitting to publishers yourself is definitely something to consider for unagented authors. I have done the research for you and located publishing houses open to submissions. I've even given you the links to their submission guidelines.
Your mission - should you choose to accept it - is to find the publisher that is looking for your type of manuscript. Researching the publisher is just as important as researching for the perfect agent.
I would love to answer questions you may have. Put them in the comment section ans I will do my best to give helpful answers.
I wish you publishing success!
Children’s Book Publishers Open for Submissions
Albert Whitman https://www.albertwhitman.com/submission-guidelines-for-unrepresented-authors/
Allen and Unwin https://www.allenandunwin.com/about-allen-and-unwin/submission-guidelines
Andrews McMeel https://publishing.andrewsmcmeel.com/submissions/
Annick Press https://www.annickpress.com/Submission-Guidelines
August House https://www.augusthouse.com/submissions-guidelines
Beyond Words Press https://beyondword.com/pages/manuscript-submissions
Cider Mill Press https://www.cidermillpress.com/pages/submissions
Chicago Review Press https://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/information-for-authors--amp--agents-pages-100.php
Chronicle Books https://www.chroniclebooks.com/pages/submissions
Dover Publications https://www.doverpublications.com/faq/contacting-dover#EDITSUB
Entangled Publishing https://entangledpublishing.com/submission-information
Flashlight Press http://flashlightpress.com/submission-guidelines/
Fly Away Books https://www.flyawaybooks.com/submissions
Flying Eye Books https://flyingeyebooks.com/flying-eye/submissions/
Gibbs Smith https://www.gibbs-smith.com/submissions
Hogs Back Books http://www.hogsbackbooks.com/HBB/pages/About-us.html
Holiday House https://holidayhouse.com/faqs/
Judaica Press https://www.judaicapress.com/pages/submissions
Just Us Books https://justusbooks.com/pages/resource-center/submission-guidelines.html
Kids Can Press https://www.kidscanpress.com/writers
Laurence King https://www.laurenceking.com/getting-published/
Lee and Low https://www.leeandlow.com/writers-illustrators/writing-guidelines
Levine Querido https://www.levinequerido.com/submissions
Lion Hudson https://www.lionhudson.com/authors-and-illustrators/prospective-authors
Magination Press https://maginationpress.apabooks.org/?page_id=15
Mighty Media Press http://www.mightymediapress.com/submissions.html
New Frontier Books https://www.newfrontier.com.au/submission-guidelines
No Brow https://nobrow.net/flying-eye/submissions/?from=fe
Pants on Fire Press https://pantsonfirepress.com/submissions
Page Street Publishing https://www.pagestreetpublishing.com/submission-guidelines
Pelican Publishing https://www.arcadiapublishing.com/ContactUs/MakeMeAnAuthor
Penny Candy Books https://www.pennycandybooks.com/submit
Salaam Reads https://salaamreads.com/
Sky Pony Press https://www.skyhorsepublishing.com/sky-pony-press/submissions/
Tanglewood Publishing https://www.tanglewoodbooks.com/submissions/
Thames and Hudson https://thamesandhudson.com/page/getting-published
Tilbury House https://www.tilburyhouse.com/submissions
By Wendy Hinote Lanier
Being part of the publishing world is a lot of fun. But it’s also a bit confusing at times. And frustrating. And overwhelming. And ever changing. Did I mention confusing?
When I first started writing for publication, things were simpler. There was no such thing as platform. The internet was a handy tool for research but not much else. Publishing houses had publicity departments that had actual budgets for each book. And each book was judged (at least in part) on its own merits—and not always on how well your last book had done.
And then things changed. A lot. Suddenly writers were expected to develop something called “platform” and be active in promoting their own books. We had to learn how to use Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and Pinterest and other social media tools to get the word out about new titles. We learned to make videos and create mailing lists. And for the first time we became concerned about something called “followers.”
Some of us gave up. Some of us are still treading water just trying to get a handle on things we don’t understand. (That would be me.) Some of us learned how to use at least one of these tools really well. And some of us figured out pretty quickly we couldn’t do it all and just hired a teenager. Some of us wish we COULD hire a teenager. And we ALL learned that just because you can write doesn’t necessarily mean you can navigate this platform thing—at least not alone.
We’ve talked about the value of a critique group before. Today we’re talking about the value of tribe. Your tribe is larger than your critique group. Your tribe includes your fellow authors. There’s power in tribe.
Even though the publishing industry demands it, we can’t possibly know all the tricks for promoting books and developing platform. In many ways, developing platform is completely contrary to the typical writer personality. But what we CAN do is learn to pool our resources and help out our fellow writers. Here are a few ideas on how we can do that.
We are nonfiction authors who support readers and writers through our writing, author visits, and workshops.
Disclaimer: The Nonfiction Ninjas are a group of writers with diverse ideas . The views expressed in each post are those of the author and may differ from others in the group.