25 Kit Lit Agents You Need to Follow

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Find Kid Lit Agents on TwitterBecause the big house publishers are only accepting submissions through agents, it is more important than ever to keep up with agents in a rapidly changing industry. Although their websites will usually give a better clue as to what they are looking for, in general, following agents on Twitter will give you up to the minute information. It’s also a great way to get a feel for their personality and style. Here are 25 kid lit agents to follow on Twitter (in no particular order).

Steven Malk Writers House

Katherine Fausett  Curtis Brown, Ltd.

Bree Ogden D4EO Literary Agency

Louise Fury The Bent Agency

Kristin Miller Vincent D4EO Literary Agency

Bob Diforio D4EO Literary Agency

Gemma Cooper The Bent Agency

Michelle Andelman Regal Literary

Kelly Sonnack Andrea Brown Literary Agency

Danielle Chiotti Upstart Crow Literary

Elizabeth Harding Curtis Brown Ltd.

Jen Rofe Andrea Brown Literary Agency

Ginger Clark Curtis Brown Ltd.

Marietta B Zacker Nancy Gallt Literary Agency

Mandy Hubbard D4EO Literary Agency

Sarah LaPolla Bradford Literary

Kate McKean Howard Morhaim Literary Agency

Sara Megibow Nelson Literary Agency

Jill Corcoran Jill Corcoran Literary Agency

Joanna Volpe New Leaf Literary Agency

Michael Boureet Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency

Rebecca Sherman Writers House

Laura Bradford Bradford Literary Agency

Debbie Carter Waverly Place Literary Agency

Sara Crowe Harvey Klinger, Inc.

Which agents are your favorites on Twitter? Who did I miss?

You can follow me @loishoffmande

What Kind of Editor Do I Need?

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If you are choosing to pursue the self-publishing route, hiring an editor is critical to the success of your book. Many writers skip this step due to cost or belief in their own ability to do it. It is hard to step out of yourself and be objective, even though much of editing is subjective.  Read a few 1 or 2 star ratings on Amazon or Goodreads before you decide you don’t need an editor.

There are different types of editors to help make your book professional and primed for rave reviews. While some editors might overlap a bit in what they edit, most stick to one angle and do a thorough review. The way you read a manuscript is different for each type of editing. Here is the difference between a content, line, and copy editor.

Content Editor

The content editor will use a broad brush to review your work. The editor will be an expert in the genre in which you write. They will look for balance, story arc, character development and can give general feedback, for example, as to whether the story should be in first or third person. They should have the tact and guts to tell you that you are on the wrong track if you missed the mark.

Line Editor

A line editor will look at your work more carefully. They will help you organize paragraphs and your thoughts about a topic or help rearrange chapters so the story flows better. They will help with sentence structure, word flow, and overall readability. They will help make your story come to life.

Copy Editor

A copy editor will look at details of your work. They are your proofreaders. They’ll look for typos, grammatical mistakes, and smooth out unclear sentences. It is easiest to find a good proofreader. You can enlist freelancers or virtual assistants to handle this task.

While it is not recommended that you skip hiring one or more editors, reading your manuscript through 3 times using these angles will greatly improve your writing and make professional editing even more effective.

If you are looking for more insight into editors, check out these posts. Before hiring any editor, check out books they have edited and ask for references whenever possible.

http://victoriamixon.com/editing-terminology/

http://tahlianewland.com/2014/01/11/difference-copy-editing-line-editing-copy-edit-isnt-enough/

http://www.fictionfixitshop.com/blog/types-of-fiction-editing/

http://www.drydenbks.com/

What is your experience with editors? Do you have one you recommend?

10 Ways to Make Your Blog Post Stand Out

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How to write a great blog post

With the thousands of blog posts written each day, we need an edge to get readers to notice. Here are 10 ways to make your blog post stand out.

1. Title

Numbers are a great way to grab readers’ attention like 10 Choices…7 Mistakes…3 Funny…5 Ways to Avoid… Use phrases that make readers curious: What Every Writer Needs to Know, Lessons My Babysitter Never Told Me, How to Not Be Her, etc.

2. Pictures

Pictures grab attention. A good picture will make you curious, laugh, or at least trust the author. It can add to the story, complete the story, or compel people to read your post. If you include a description in the Alt Text box, it can enhance the discoverability of your post through image searches. Whenever possible, use your own pictures or purchase the license for the photo through stock photography sites like Canstockphoto, iStockphoto, or Shutterstock. Many images found on the web belong to someone and using them can be problematic.

3. Numbers or bullets

Using numbers and/or bullets make reading easier and breaks down our ideas into bite sized chunks. In our ADD world, lists make a post easy to read and digest.

4. Headings

Headings serve a similar purpose by allowing readers to scan your post for the most valuable info then read a deeper explanation, if desired. Instead of just using bold for the heading, use the Heading tags for greater impact.

5. Links to other resources

You can’t tell the whole story in one blog post. If readers are passionate about the topic, give them more! You can link to other posts on your site or send them to another blog or website. Readers reward bloggers who give valuable information and are a trusted resource. You don’t need to know everything. If you know someone who can elaborate, link to their site. Check the box to open in a new window so your reader can easily get back to your post.

6. Questions

Readers respond better when they are asked a question. Ask if they experienced your topic, had problems with X, have a better way to do Y, or how they feel about Z. Encourage feedback and join the conversation when they do. Thank them for their comments and ask more questions to keep the conversation going, if it seems appropriate. It’s a great opportunity to check out the blogs of your readers and consider following them.

7. Polls

Like questions, polls give your readers a reason to get involved. Use polls for research, for engagement, or just for fun. You can use yes or no questions like “Would you ever…” or multiple choice questions like “Chocolate or Vanilla.” Click on the link for more information about using WordPress polls.

8. Tags

Like a tree falling in the forest with no one around, a blog with no tags is hard to discover. Use tags and categories starting with general topic then list details in the post. To find out what readers are looking for, check out the Topics page and make sure one of your tags or categories include one of these main headings. Check out more information about WordPress categories and tags. ManageWP maybe says it best, “if categories are the table of contents for your blog, tags represent the index.”

9. Examples

Examples put the words into context. “Use a catchy title” has little meaning to someone learning how to create one. Read your blog post, or better yet, let someone else read your post and see if they understand what you are explaining. Use pictures, screen shots, or written examples to get your point across. If readers don’t understand what you are saying or how to ultimately do what you are teaching, they won’t come back for more.

10. Original Content

With all of the information on the internet, you might ask if it’s even possible to have something original to say. Fortunately, you have your own perspective on things. Even though people have written about blogging before, no one sits at your desk, looks out your window, and watches that one squirrel interact with that other squirrel. Your perspective on how to motivate people, inspire people, or entertain people is different. Turn a topic on its head and view it from a different angle. Be authentic. Care about the readers who take the time to read your posts and those readers will reward you with likes, follows, and shares.

Look at your most popular posts. What made them more popular? Was it the topic, how you delivered the content, or how it was tagged? I would love to hear from you!

Getting started in social media for Newbie Writers

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Many new and aspiring writers express anxiety about starting out in social media. We’ve all heard about the need for writers to have a platform. If you are like me, this may feel overwhelming. I recently heard the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer, of course, is one bite at a time.

Be visible

Set up an author page on Facebook. It’s ok to have a personal profile on Facebook, but an author page, even if you are not published yet, is essential. The same is true for Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or other social media platforms that speak to what you write about. Why do you need separate accounts? While it seems like twice the work, your followers don’t want to hear about your child’s recital and your family doesn’t want to be inundated with writing tips. You don’t have to be everywhere. Pick a couple of places to start and be consistent whether it’s once a day or once a week.

Give something of value

What do your readers want to know? Is it writing advice, party tips, or insight into how you picked the setting for your novel? Choose an angle and be known for it. It’s ok to stray from your primary purpose, but you will find consistent followers if readers know what they are signing up to read. Unless your book is about cats, don’t waste your time posting pictures of adorable animals. You don’t have to create all of the content yourself. Follow 10 (or 20) blogs, websites, or other sources of information and share that information and/or link with your readers.

Be present

If you want to be noticed, go out and introduce yourself. Comment on blog posts, like Facebook posts, follow and retweet interesting people and information on Twitter. Social media is about being there. You are hanging out around the proverbial water cooler. Listen as much as you talk and others will listen to you more when you do.

Be authentic

Don’t be afraid to be yourself. It’s ok that you have faults, misgivings, and unsightly warts. In fact, it’s what will make people trust you more. People want to hear that you struggle and celebrate just like they do.

Learn from the pros

Keep learning. Follow people who give advice that speaks to you. If you are new to social media, you don’t need HTML optimization tips for your self-hosted blog. Find writers, editors, agents, and bloggers that take you to the next level, whatever level that may be. Here are a few interesting places to start:

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/

http://janefriedman.com/blog/

http://www.writingforward.com/blog

http://www.litkicks.com/

In children’s writing try these:

http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/

http://bluerosegirls.blogspot.com/

http://taralazar.com/

http://www.underdown.org/blog.htm

What are your main social media hurdles? Where do feel most comfortable? Let me know. I would love to hear from you.

SCBWI MD/DE/WV Spring Writers Conference 2014

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Writing for childrenDespite the snow and frigid temps outside, the SCBWI MD/DE/WV Spring Writers Conference is gearing up with some great speakers and events for children’s writers and illustrators. Whatever your stage of writing, newbie to experienced author, this conference will have something for you. Speakers will include editors, agents, published authors, and an art director. Here is the info about each taken straight from the conference announcement on the MD/DE/WV SCBWI website:

Alex Arnold
Editorial Assistant, Katherine Tegen Books (an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Twitter:  @AlexYArnol

Giuseppe Castellano
Art Director, Penguin Group USA
Twitter: @pinocastellano

Sara D’Emic
Associate Agent, Talcott Notch Literary
Twitter: @SaraDEmic

Rori Shay
MD/DE/WV SCBWI Member and Author of The Elected Series
Twitter: @RoriShayWrites

Alyson Heller
Associate Editor, Aladdin, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing
Twitter: @EditorAlysonH

Christa Heschke
Agent, McIntosh and Otis, Inc. Literary Agency
Twitter: @ChristaHeschke
Blog:  http://christaheschke.blogspot.com

Debra Hess
Author, Senior Editor, Highlights for Children, and faculty, Highlights Foundation

Shelley Koon
Writer, artist, MD/DE/WV Critique Group Coordinator

Tara Lazar
Author and PiBoIdMo Creator
Blog:  taralazar.com
Twitter: @taralazar

Lesléa Newman
Author
Web site: lesleakids.com
Twitter: @lesleanewman

You will have an opportunity to get a critique on your polished manuscript, listen to some sage advice from the pros, and meet other writers and illustrators who share the same ambitions and struggles. It’s worth the time and money from the motivation alone. Do your career a favor and sign up.

The conference is scheduled for Saturday, March 29th from 8am-5pm at the Claggett Center near Frederickburg, MD. Registration opens on January 27th.

If you have been to a SCBWI MD/DE/WV conference before, please share your thoughts. We would love to hear from you!

The Almost Perfect Birthday Party

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Originally posted on The Juggling Hoffmans:

birthday party guideI am very excited to say that I published my first ebook! The Almost Perfect Birthday Party: A sanity-preserving guide to planning a party your child will love is the gathered experience of many years in the children’s entertainment and event planning business. This book is for all of the moms and dads and other party planners who, like me, are a little less than perfect. You’ll get lots of tips to make the event go more smoothly, but more importantly a guide to help you and your child be happier in the end.

For the book launch this weekend, the book is FREE! On Saturday and Sunday only, you can hop on Amazon and download this book. It is available in the Kindle Store, but you don’t have to have a Kindle to read it. You can download the free Kindle app or read it on the Kindle Cloud…

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