Thursday, April 6, 2017

TWITTER BASICS FOR WRITERS

Welcome to Twitterville!

For writers, there are a bazillion (that’s a number, right?) different ways you can maximize your use of Twitter. For example, you can use Twitter to expand your social media outreach and talk to fans, librarians, and teachers or you can network with other industry professionals. Twitter is also great for researching publishers, editors, and agents with whom you’d like to work with. Even better, Twitter is an excellent outlet for spouting off random thoughts of the day. Basically, the possibilities are endless. So where should you begin? 

STEP 1: Sign Up

First you need to sign up for an account. Accounts are free and easy to set up, simply follow the directions at www.twitter.com. The username you choose will then be referred to as your “Twitter handle”. For example, my Twitter handle is @sophiagholz

STEP 2: Upload Photos

Once you’ve established your account, you’ll want to upload a photograph to use as your “profile image”. For writers, I’ve heard it’s recommended that you stick with one photograph for all of your social media outlets (Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, etc.). They say that using the same photo will help you to be recognized online, at a glance. I also know many authors who don’t follow these rules and that’s fine as well. Some writers use a professional headshot, some use snapshots and others use their book covers. Anything goes. 

Now that you’ve got a profile picture uploaded, you can move on to uploading a “cover image”. The cover image is the picture that’s displayed horizontally behind your profile picture. This banner image is another great way to either show some personality or share your work. 

STEP 3: Tweet!

Congratulations! You should now have your Twitter account up and ready to go. Here comes the fun part: Tweeting! Your status updates (or Tweets) are little blurbs and thoughts that you share in 140 characters or less. You can post random ramblings, funny observances, industry news...anything! 

Now that you're officially on Twitter, 
below are some basic terms and guidelines to help you get started. 

Hashtag or # sign:

A lot of people like to add a hashtag as an afterthought to a Tweet. For example: #WritersLife or #booklove or #AmWriting. Hashtags should start with the # sign followed directly by a word or phrase without any spaces in between.

Hashtags are searchable. So let’s say that you’re writing a nonfiction book about Clydesdale horses. You might want to hashtag some of your related status updates with #clydesdales or #horses. On the flip-side of that, you could search Twitter for those hashtags and connect with other people who are talking about similar things. You can also create your own hashtags using the title of your book, school, a loved phrase, current favorite popsicle flavor....anything.

There are many popular hashtags that writers use and these are good to search on occasion. I’ve included a link to an awesome list HERE. Some of these hashtags include #AmWriting #AskAgent #PubTip and #MSWL (manuscript wish list). Specific groups often use hashtags to organize chats as well. 

Tagging and Twitter Conversations:

Though it sounds similar, tagging or tweeting someone on Twitter is different than using a hashtag. Hashtags consist of the searchable # sign before the text. But if you want to tag someone or tweet someone directly, you have to use the @ symbol followed by their Twitter handle (name).

When you tag someone (using the @ symbol) that person or group is automatically notified about your tweet, which allows them to then RT (retweet) or respond if they'd like. This is also how you have Twitter conversations. Remember, if you don’t use the @ symbol to tag someone (or vice versa) that person will not know you’re talking to or about them. 

Here are some examples of Tweets using both hashtags and tags: 

I'm looking forward to the future when I'm part cyborg & no longer need to eat or sleep. #NeedMoreHoursInTheDay #JustPlugIn

Big congrats to my critique partner-in-crime @JenSwanBooks who was selected to teach an upcoming  @HighlightsFound workshop!

We’re celebrating @RateYourStory’s birthday bash today! #giveaway #writing #kidlit

Likes and Retweets: 

If you see a status or post on Twitter that you like, hit the little heart icon underneath it. This adds the status update to your list of “likes”. It also lets the original writer of that post know that you like it. Or you can hit the little arrows icon underneath of the post. By hitting the arrows you are then “retweeting” that post and adding it to your own newsfeed. People are also notified of your retweets (RTs) and it shows your support. 

One thing to note: writers beware that too much of one thing or another won’t make you Twitter-popular. People tend to dislike it if you use too many hashtags, if you’re only retweeting what other people have to say (without adding anything fresh), or if you’re posting about the same thing all of the time. 

Using the Lists:

As you start networking and following people on twitter, you can start building select lists. When you click on your profile picture (at the very top and right of your computer screen) a drop down menu should appear. On that menu you should see a “lists” tab. If you click on that, you can follow directions as to how to create your own lists. This is a great feature that allows you to curate a personalized newsfeed. For example, you can add people to an “editors” list or an “agents” list or even a “writer friends” list. This way, instead of seeing every single status update, you can view whichever select group you’d like at any one time. 

For more on Twitter terms, popular hashtags, etiquette for writers and all, check out this excellent post by Debbie Ridpath Ohi: http://inkygirl.com/a-writers-guide-to-twitter/


Do you have any Twitter tips that you'd like to share? Add them in the comments below. 
Happy Tweeting! 


For more about Sophia visit her website by clicking HERE or follow her on Twitter: @sophiagholz 

Click here to follow Rate Your Story on Twitter: @RateYourStory

Thursday, March 2, 2017

AUTHOR VISITS ARE AWESOME by Catherine Bailey

Full disclosure – the original title of this article was AUTHOR VISITS ARE AWESOME AND HERE IS HOW YOU CAN PLAN ONE FOR YOUR FABULOUS SELF AND YOUR AMAZING BOOK, YEA! But that seemed a tad a wordy. 

Fortunately I have plenty of space down here in the roomy “article” section to share tips that I learned about organizing and executing author visits. So let’s begin with the what – what is an author visit?

An author visit is when an author meets with a group of people to talk about their books, the craft of writing, the world of publishing, and/or related issues like literacy. 

A critical part of planning a visit is figuring out what you are comfortable doing. Singing songs to Pre K kids about a character from your book? Putting on a PowerPoint presentation for 400 third graders about revisions? Speaking at a charity auction about the importance of reading? 

It can evolve over time but knowing what you can talk about comfortably will define your audience. Visits can include all sort of activities but mine usually fall into this pattern: a reading, some sort of presentation, then a signing. 

So with that in mind, the next question is where – where do authors visit?

The most common answer is schools and public libraries. School visits can include small sessions at a daycare, large assemblies at an elementary school, and even creative writing courses at a local college. A book’s target audience is not a limit – you have a lot of knowledge about the craft of writing that you can share with older teens and adults. 

Libraries host story hours and adult-education groups that you can also address. The same is true for children’s museums and other attractions that tie into the theme of your book. For example my third book, LUCY LOVES SHERMAN, is about a lobster so I am working with our local Oceanographic Center to organize a presentation about, well, lobsters! 

Book stores and children’s shops are great places to visit as well. After contacting the store (more on that later), you can plan an event for just your book – or you can find existing events you can join. I’ve been lucky enough to have all three of my book launches at a local Barnes and Noble. But, as an author of a monster-themed picture book, I also enjoyed being part of a Halloween celebration at one of my favorite gift shops. 

Authors are also welcomed speakers at charity events for literacy and youth issues, as well as book fairs and conferences. Children’s hospitals are a wonderful feel-good place to do readings. I promise your heart will swell three sizes if you do that one. One of my favorite “out of the box” visits was at an awards ceremony for young writers. Bottom line, there are dozens of places an author can visit. 

That begs the question – how? How do authors get invited to present, speak, read, and sign their books? 

Assuming you are fairly new to publishing, the first step is introducing yourself via an in person visit, promotional email, or some combination of both. You need to get your name out there as a person who does this sort of thing.

You can use services like Mail Chimp to draft and send out emails to media specialists, school administrators, etc. These emails should include information about your qualifications, what you can present/provide for their audience, your fee (at least a range), and your contact information. The key is to be informative, but also brief. And also hilarious. But professional. And clever. Let’s just say it takes a few drafts.

I prefer to save my in-person introductions for libraries and bookstores. I bring a copy of my book, and a “marketing” packet that I can leave behind. It included a press release from the publisher, a color print out of one of the pages from inside the book, a big sticker (thank you Vista Print!), and my business card (Vista Print strikes again). When I arrive I introduce myself to the most senior person I can find, show them my book, give them the packet, and I get their contact information. I explain that I am local, and excited to do events such as readings, signings, and so on. 

Now that you have an idea of what you could present, a list of places to visit, and some local contacts – it’s a good idea to remember these tips


  • LOGISTICS: Find out where to park. Bring a photo ID, hand sanitizer, umbrella, and back up USB of your power point. If you are visiting a school, at some point you will squat, so dress accordingly. Get a ballpark headcount if you plan to provide giveaways. Track your mileage and keep all your receipts for taxes.
  • GIVEAWAYS: Bookmarks are great because you can sign them and they work for all ages. Black and white coloring sheets of your characters are good freebies too. Or you can raffle off one of your signed books. 
  • PROMOTION: If it is a public event, help to promote the event. The store/charity/organizers will appreciate it and there’s a lot you can do for free / almost free to advertise the visit. Make posts on social media, create a few simple flyers and post at the gym / coffee shop. It goes a long way!
  • COMMUNICATION: Check in twice before the event to confirm times, dates and expectations. Send a thank you note when it’s over, even if it’s by email. And if you don’t anything recorded, tell them ahead of time. 

So there you have it. Everything thing you could possibly need to plan and execute a successful author visit. Ha ha! Just kidding! There are more tips and tricks to learn of course, but many of them come with experience. I hope to see you out there.

***GIVEAWAY ALERT!***
Rate Your Story Members may enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win a 20 Minute Skype Session with author Catherine Bailey. This is your chance to ask questions about the industry, writing, publishing, school visits, agents, you name it! All you have to do is comment on the blog below and be a 2017 RYS member! NOTE: This is not a manuscript critique session. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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About the Author: 

Catherine Bailey is a children’s author and presenter from sunny Florida. Her current books include MIND YOUR MONSTERS (Sterling Publishing, 2015), HYPNOSIS HARRY (Sky Pony Press, 2016), and LUCY LOVES SHERMAN (Sky Pony Press, 2017) – with more on the way! She is a popular speaker and has visited with hundreds (and hundreds, and hundreds!) of kids at schools, libraries, stores, and special events. When Catherine is not writing, or editing, or swatting at mosquitos, she looks after her husband and two children. All three of them are quite sticky, and none like bedtime, but she loves them anyway


Catherine is represented by Kathleen Rushall of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. For more, visit Catherine at www.catherinebaileybooks.com.


Monday, February 6, 2017

THINKING IN SEQUELS by Lynne Marie

My path to publication was neither quick, nor easy. I had studied the art and craft of writing for children since 1999, after having majored in English in college many years before. I was not a frequent submitter, for which I’m thankful. There’s much to learn in this business (and much to read), so until you’ve “got it,” there’s no point in wasting chances by sending out manuscripts that aren’t ready. Unless it’s for a critique – I am an advocate of critique groups and paid feedback and critiques. 

As I practiced my craft, I tended to write punny animal stories. Still, from time to time, I would write inspired stories that fell in my lap. My picture book manuscript, School Bus Buddies, now entitled Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten, was one. The premise was based on school experiences my son had encountered (emotion), scenes I had witnessed (plot) and the nervous personality trait of my pet hedgehog, Apollo Nike [Spike] (character). When three important story elements intersect like this, my advice is: Write the story – you never know where it might lead, perhaps even to a sequel or series. 

I rotated School Bus Buddies through my critique group many times in between working on other projects. I ordered over 50 comp titles from the library (on riding the bus, dealing with fear, school days, hedgehogs, etc.) to make sure it was new and different. After reading, I revised accordingly.  I ultimately did fifteen revisions before my critique groups mentioned sending it out. I had done some publisher research while writing it over the years, but I re-approached this necessary step again. After reading information and interviews and checking their current catalog, I knew which publisher to send it to – Scholastic. Four weeks later, I got a telephone call from Scholastic Editor Jenne Abramowitz and I had a sale.  Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten was born! 

I mention all this backstory for a few reasons. One, to show that I did not write this book to have a sequel or be a series. I did not even have a sequel in mind. I just wrote the best story I possibly could. 

When Spike’s book did well, my editor asked if I had any other Hedgehog stories. I said “Certainly!” To be truthful, I did not. However, I had learned from Guideposts Editor/Author Mary Lou Carney at my first Highlights Foundation Workshop at Chautuaqua, to, when approached with a challenge, always say, “Certainly!” I was not afraid to say this, either. After fifteen thorough revisions, I had gotten to know my character pretty well, and I had pages of children’s magazine clips in my resume, so I was able to write to spec. Do not underestimate the experience of writing for magazines. 

I read 100s of books (again) on going to school and celebrating school events, and the one area which seemed to have both not a lot of titles and not anything I particularly loved, was the 100th Day of School. I pondered the “what ifs?” And all the possibilities.  I realized this was the topic I wanted to approach, but more importantly, I learned something else. Do your topic research before investing too much time writing. You will learn if the topic is relevant, needed and if there is a hole you can fill with your book, and if your idea might beat anything already out there. I found a hole that would fit my market and three drafts later, I got the go ahead from my Mentor Joyce Sweeney and my critique groups that it was ready! This time, it got accepted right away (and officially contracted 1 ½ years later due to red tape and staff changes), and when I finally settled in with my newest editor, I was asked, again, “What related manuscripts did I have?” 

By this time, I had a few, so my agent shot another off to my editor. As long as Spike’s 100th Day Celebration is as big as we hope, he will star in yet another story, with his best friend Sheldon the Turtle from the 1st book. And at that time, I have another Spike story ready to submit. 

There are a few obvious and not-so-obvious take away values from my personal story. 
  1. Read and Learn, Read and Read, Learn and Read. Repeat. Never stop. 
  2. Research your titles and ideas to determine whether a particular idea is something marketable that you should pursue. 
  3. (Is it new, fresh or unique? Does it fill a hole in the current market? Is it better than anything out there?) 
  4. Write out of your usual zone or comfort zone. Try different topics or styles. You may surprise yourself. 
  5. This is a business. Writing what sells is a part of that. So write what you love AND what will sell. 
  6. Research markets. Research markets. Research markets. Repeat. 
  7. Do not underestimate the experience gained by writing for magazines. 
  8. Join critique groups and groups like RYS and pay for valuable feedback. Think of it as investing in your talent and your work. 
  9. When writing, take any notes you may have about where the story may lead, or a possible sequel. Weave potential for a possible sequel subtly into your story. Sometimes, this is just by tapping into a necessary hole, or creating a character that readers will care about and want to see again. 
  10. When you start getting comments like “send it out,” send it out!
  11. When asked if you have another related story to offer, always say, “Certainly!” 
  12. Write anything and everything that YOU can. Sometimes the stories that you least expect will get the SEQUELS. 

Wishing you all the best in your writing journeys. I hope my path and my sequels will inspire you!

About the Author: 

Lynne Marie
Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten, Scholastic 2011
Hedgehog’s 100th Day of School, Scholastic 2017

TWITTER: @Literally_Lynne


Lynne Marie is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten - illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011) and Hedgehog's 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017). Her stories, poems, and folk tales have appeared in many magazine markets, including Family Fun, Highlights, High Five, Spider, Baby Bug and more. She is an on-staff writer for Jon and Laura Bard's Children's Book Insider, a 2017 Rate Your Story Judge, a 2016 Cybils Panelist for the picture book/board book category, a mentor for picture book writers and a book reviewer. She is a former New Yorker who now lives a simpler life on a lake in South Florida with her family and several resident water birds. You can learn more about her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Fractured Fairy Tales, Fairies & Fae by Henry Herz

A fractured fairy tale is an adaptation of a fairy tale, in which the author changes the characters, setting, theme, and/or other elements of the story. Examples of fractured fairy tales include Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood, The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz, and Little Red Cuttlefish by me. But before an author can adapt a fairy tale, it is worth understanding the definition of fairy tales. 

Writing picture books is fraught with philosophical questions. Are fairies synonymous with Fae? Do fairy characters in a story make it a fairy tale? Must a fairy tale feature fairies? Wikipedia artfully states, “The characters and motifs of fairy tales are simple and archetypal: princesses and goose-girls; youngest sons and gallant princes; ogres, giants, dragons, and trolls; wicked stepmothers and false heroes; fairy godmothers and other magical helpers, often talking horses, or foxes, or birds; glass mountains; and prohibitions and breaking of prohibitions.” The fairy tale is such a ubiquitous literary form, that it even has more than one classification system*.

Elves and Fairies by Ida Rental Outhwaite, 1916
Thomas Keightley indicated that the word 'fairy' derived from the Old French faerie, denoting enchantment. Fae is not related to the Germanic fey, or fated to die. Some authors don't distinguish between Fae and fairies. Other authors define Fae as any inhabitants of Faërie, be they large or small, good or evil. For them, Fae is the broader term encompassing not only fairies, but elves, dwarves, ogres, imps, and all other fantasy creatures. They consider fairies to be Fae who are diminutive and often ethereal, magic-wielding, and/or winged.

Fairies of either flavor have been flitting about literature for centuries. Consider Morgan le Fay in Le Morte d'Arthur, Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, Oberon and Titania in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Tinker Bell in J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, Holly Short in Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl, all the way up to Bloom in Doreen Cronin's eponymously titled picture book and Mabel and the Queen of Dreams (inspired by the fairy Queen Mab in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet).

C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and others established fantasy as the subgenre of speculative fiction that employs magical elements set in an alternative world. Tolkien wrote in his essay “On Fairy-Stories” that fairy tales are distinct from traveller's tales (e.g., Gulliver's Travels), science fiction, beast tales (e.g., Aesop's Fables), and dream stories (e.g., Alice in Wonderland). He felt that fairies themselves were not an integral part of the definition of fairy tales. Rather, fairy tales were stories about the adventures of men and fantastic creatures in Faërie, a marvel-filled magical otherworld. By that definition, The Lord of the Rings is a fairy tale.

Urban fantasy** is a subgenre of fantasy set in an urban setting, typically in contemporary times. This setting violates Tolkien's definition of a fairy tale, since the story takes place in the “real” world, rather than in Faërie. Thus, Mabel and the Queen of Dreams, though featuring a fairy, is an urban fantasy rather than a fairy tale, or as Tolkien preferred, Märchen (wonder tale).

The Boy and the Trolls by John Bauer, 1915
Regardless of subgenre, I hope readers will find in my stories what Tolkien posited for Märchen generally. “Far more powerful and poignant is the effect [of joy] in a serious tale of Faërie. In such stories, when the sudden turn comes, we get a piercing glimpse of joy, and heart's desire, that for a moment passes outside the frame, rends indeed the very web of story, and lets a gleam come through.”

*Two major fairy tale classification systems are Aarne-Thompson and Vladimir Propp's Morphology of the Folk Tale.

**Some notable urban fantasy includes the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, Modern Faerie Tales series by Holly Black, Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher, Weather Warden series by Rachel Caine, Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, The Southern Vampire Mysteries series by Charlaine Harris, The Hollows series by Kim Harrison, The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne, Feral series by Cynthia Leitich Smith, The Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr, October Daye series by Seanan McGuire, Marla Mason series by Tim Pratt, Simon Canderous series by Anton Stout, and Borderlands series by Terri Windling.

About the Author: 

Henry Herz


Henry Herz writes fantasy and science fiction for children. He is represented by Deborah Warren of East/West Literary Agency. He and his sons wrote MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES (Pelican, 2015), WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY (Pelican, 2016), MABEL AND THE QUEEN OF DREAMS (Schiffer, 2016), LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH (Pelican, 2016), and CAP'N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW (Sterling, 2017).
Henry and his sons have also indie-published four children's books. NIMPENTOAD reached #1 in Kindle Best Sellers large print sci-fi & fantasy, and was featured in Young Entrepreneur, Wired GeekDad, and CNN. BEYOND THE PALE featured short stories by award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors Saladin Ahmed, Peter S. Beagle, Heather Brewer, Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine, Kami Garcia, Nancy Holder, Gillian Philip & Jane Yolen, and reached #2 in Amazon Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Anthologies.
Henry is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). Henry participates in literature panels at a variety of conventions, including San Diego Comic-Con and WonderCon. Henry created KidLit Creature Week, an annual online gallery of monsters, creatures, and other imaginary beasts from children's books. He reviews children's books for the San Francisco Book Review and the San Diego Book Review. Discover more at www.henryherz.com.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Recycle That Rejection! by Deborah Holt Williams

A rug from crocheted plastic bags, a wind chime from mismatched spoons—recycling turns trash into treasure. Our rejections can be recycled, too, sometimes into a form quite different than we first imagined.
I wasn’t laughing when my picture book “One Funny Day” got thumbs down from an agent, then got “liked” by a Twitter pitch agent, then got rejected again! But I still loved it. With a few adjustments, I sold it to Bumples, where it was recycled into a fun interactive story that appeared on-line this June.  Another story, “Baseball Buns,” got rejected by magazine after magazine.  But it sold to Knowonder, an on-line site that features a new story every day.
I was certain my story “Artist in the Woods” was perfect for Highlights. Somehow, they disagreed. Rejected! So I tweaked it and added a repeating refrain (“But the artist would not wake up!”), and submitted it to an educational publisher. There it got recycled--into an easy reader book! It’s still in their catalog years later. Although my goal is to have a beautiful, glossy picture book published one day, I’m proud that my little books are helping kids learn to read.
Since you’re here on RYS, I’m guessing you’ve been writing for years, and that some of your work may be hibernating in a file or languishing at the bottom of a drawer. Just like turning an old t-shirt into a throw pillow, you may be able to recycle these pieces or ideas. Did you write an article for your church newsletter? Rework it and send it to a religious magazine for children. Did you come up with a great art project for your Girl Scout Troup? Turn it into a craft article.       
I once wrote for a small town newspaper, and I recycled two articles into non-fiction pieces for an on-line magazine for kids, called Young Bucks Outdoors. I made lilac prints with toddlers in my home daycare, and later sold the idea to Turtle magazine. Years after I worked as children’s librarian, I reworked a little puppet play I wrote for my Storytime into a rebus, a 100-word story with pictures for some of the words. Sold! “The Egg All Alone” appeared in the September 2013 issue of Highlights. 
The Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market lists places to submit your work that you may never have considered. Evelyn Christiansen’s site, http://evelynchristensen.com/markets.html, is a great source to learn which publications are looking for what. The SCBWI Blue Boards, Children’s Book Insider, and the numerous Facebook groups for writers are also wonderful resources.  
So the next time a rejection darkens your inbox, or you come across an old manuscript that’s still got some life in it, see if you can recycle it into something entirely new!
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About the author: Deborah Holt Williams is a full member of SCBWI and the author of five easy readers for Continental Press. Her work has appeared in Highlights, Jack and Jill, Appleseeds, Spellbound and other magazines for children. She’s still submitting her picture book manuscripts and hoping to find an agent. She lives in the mountains of Colorado and takes her recycling to the center every week. You can find Deborah on Facebook as Lucky Williams or follow her blog at http://deborahholtwilliams.blogspot.com, where she chronicles her writing adventures. 
     

      

Thursday, November 3, 2016

2017 Rate Your Story Registration!

We'd like to take a moment to thank everyone who submitted for our first annual Rate Your Story Scholarship. Our judges were impressed with the caliber and the diversity of the submissions. We are now pleased to announce our two winners: Ashley Franklin and Vanessa Marcus. Congratulations!


2017 Membership Registration Opens This Month! 

Rate Your Story opens once a year to new members and memberships are limited. Be sure to reserve your space and take advantage of our discounts for early registration. Details are below:

Early Registration - November 16th-30th
New members receive a 25% discount off the annual membership fee 
Use the "Early Registration" button by clicking HERE

Regular Registration - December 1st-January 15th
New members may sign up anytime during regular registration
click HERE

Returning Members - November 16th - January 15th
Returning members receive a 35% discount off the annual membership fee
and may sign up anytime during all registration windows 
click HERE

**Please be aware that we have had to close registration early in the past due to limited space and we reserve the right to do so again should our memberships sell out. We limit the amount of memberships in order to allow our judges the ability to better focus on each member submission**

Want to know more? Check out our "About" page and you'll find answers to often asked questions: About Rate Your Story

Click HERE for all registration and membership details. 
We look forward to joining you on your writing journey in 2017!


Monday, October 3, 2016

NEVER SAY NEVER: How to KEEP getting WFH jobs and keep the money rolling in!

Here is part two of author and RYS judge Jennifer Swanson's Work-For-Hire series. If you missed the first post, click HERE to read it. 
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Okay, so who has followed the steps I outlined in the first post and has a completed resume package?  Raise your hand.  (I’m hoping you are all doing this at home—and not feeling silly about raising your hand in the house by yourself)

Have you sent your resume package out yet? The answer is hopefully a resounding YES. As they say, You can’t win if you don’t “play”. No editor will come knocking on your door asking you to write for them. (It would be cool if they did, though, wouldn’t it?)


After you send out your resume package – via snail mail or email, then you get to do what every good author does. Wait! (cue the song “Waiting is the hardest part…”)


The email comes. You are HIRED! You go through the process of learning how to work with an editor, writing to specific guidelines, and turning everything in on time. Whew! And YAY!


You have written your first book and someone PAID you to do it!!
Now comes the hard part, how do you keep this going? You’re fresh off your first manuscript and anxious to do more. How do you find another contract? 


Have you heard the saying “Beat the pavement” That’s what you do. Keep sending out resume packages. I try to do it in batches of 5’s every 4 months or more. Make sure to update your resume to reflect what you’ve done.


*Important Note:  Be sure to check your contract for rules about how you can talk about your books. Typically, you can’t give the name of the books you’ve written until they’ve been released. Sometimes you can’t even refer to the company you wrote for until then. *


The most important tip I can give you about this WFH business is: NEVER SAY NEVER!!


What does that mean? It means if an editor reads your resume package and sends you an email asking you to write a book about a topic you know nothing about, SAY YES!


You get one shot with some companies/editors. My response is always: “Why yes, I’ve always wanted to write a book about how pigs fly. Thank you for asking.”


Of course, after you get the contract, you may be seized by a “WHAT did I just do? Aaahhh! I can’t possibly write a book about how pigs fly.” But you know what, you can. You just figure it out.


The more YES’s you give editors, the more likely you are to keep getting contracts and making money. Putting restrictions on what you are willing to write is a sure way to end up on the bottom of the editor’s list. Remember, you are going against hundreds of other writers who are out trying to get the same WFH jobs. Your motto is “NEVER SAY NEVER!”


Now go out there and Start Submitting!! Good luck and Happy Writing!





Jennifer Swanson is the author of over 20 fiction and nonfiction books for children. When she is not writing, she loves to read, walk on the beach with her family, and play with her two dogs. You can learn more about her at www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com