See also: Perspiration: Professional Critques.
AN AUTHOR'S GUIDE TO CHILDREN'S BOOK PROMOTION by Susan Salzman Raab (Raab Associates, 2005)(9th edition). Includes information on helping your publisher, getting your book distributed, the school-library market, bookstore promotion, special promotions, publicity, and websites. Especially useful to beginners with trade publishers and the self-published, the key message though is universal: No one will care as much about your book as you, so you need to take responsibility to help promote it.
THE ANNOTATED CHARLOTTE'S WEB by Peter F. Neumeyer (Paper, HarperTrophy, 1997). An intense look at the creative process behind and evolution of a classic.
CHARACTERS & VIEWPOINT: HOW TO INVENT, CONSTRUCT, AND ANIMATE VIVID, CREDIBLE CHARACTERS AND CHOOSE THE BEST EYES THROUGH WHICH TO VIEW THE EVENTS OF YOUR SHORT STORY OR NOVEL by Orson Scott Card (Writers Digest, 1986). Some of the examples are a bit dated, but who cares. A must-read from one of today's best authors.
COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING CHILDREN'S BOOKS by Harold Underdown (Alpha Books, 2001). Don't be put off by the title. Plenty of smart people will learn a lot from this book; recommended more to beginners. 04/04 update: revised and updated edition is now available. Visit The Purple Crayon, Harold Underdown's fantastic site about children's books with original articles for writers.
CREATING CHARACTER EMOTIONS: WRITING COMPELLING, FRESH APPROACHES THAT EXPRESS YOUR CHARACTERS’ FEELINGS by Ann Hood (Writers Digest, 1998).
CREATING CHARACTERS KIDS WILL LOVE by Elaine Marie Alphin (Writers Digest). Lots of character information to get you started, including some wonderful exercises. Particularly recommended to beginners.
THE ELEMENTS OF STORYTELLING: HOW TO WRITE COMPELLING FICTION by Peter Rubie (John Wiley, 1995).
THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE 4th edition by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White (Paper, Allyn & Bacon, 2000). Yes, of course, you need this book. I can't believe you're wondering.
FICTION FIRST AID: INSTANT REMEDIES FOR NOVELS, STORIES, AND SCRIPTS by Raymond Obstfeld (Writers Digest, 2002). Excellent resource for revision; highly recommended to novelist at all stages. Great for both global rewrites and spot fixing.
GET THAT NOVEL WRITTEN!: FROM INITIAL IDEA TO FINAL EDIT by Donna Levin (Writers Digest, 1996). A discussion of craft, character, plot, point of view, language usage, style, and inspiration.
THE GIBLIN GUIDE TO WRITING CHILDREN'S BOOKS by James Cross Giblin (Writer's Institute Publications, 2005)(fourth edition—revised and updated). Giblin's Guide highlights the various forms, including non-fiction, fiction, ages categories within fiction, types of fiction, picture books globally, and rhyme in picture books specifically. It also features information on "from submission to contract" and "from contract to publication." Recommended as a companion to WHAT'S YOUR STORY? A YOUNG PERSON'S GUIDE TO WRITING FICTION by Marion Dane Bauer (Clarion, 1992) and especially to children's non-fiction writers.
Growing a Thicker Skin by Mary Kole, a children's-YA writer and associate agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, from Kidlit.com. Peek: "It’s in your best interest to develop a thick skin, learn how to take criticism and rejection, separate yourself from what you’ve put on a page, learn everything you can about the industry, get realistic, and keep writing every day."
HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN'S PICTURE BOOK by Eve Heidi Bine-Stock (E&E, 2004). Analyzing more than twenty-five classics such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and Sylvester And The Magic Pebble by William Steig, this academic look at picture book and picture storybook structure can offer writers insights into their own work at many stages. Have an idea for a story but not sure how to begin? Read this book. Stuck in the middle and don't know what to do next? Take a look at this book. Uncertain about the overall plot? Bine-Stock dissects the parts of each example to reveal how its author created the whole. This clinical approach to plotting shows how the masters of the craft have succeeded. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Recommendation by Anne Bustard, author of Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly (Simon& Schuster, 2005).
HOW TO PROMOTE YOUR CHILDREN'S BOOK: A SURVIVAL GUIDE by Evelyn Gallardo. Updated and revised addition is now available.
IMMEDIATE FICTION by Jerry Cleaver (St. Martin's Press, 2002). An entertaining, straightforward, faith-filled book that every novelist should read and reread. Craft oriented and tremendously helpful. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.
IT'S A BUNNY-EAT-BUNNY WORLD: A WRITER'S GUIDE TO SURVIVING AND THRIVING IN TODAY'S COMPETITIVE CHILDREN'S BOOK MARKET by Olga Litowinsky (Walker, 2001). Leave your romantic ideas behind, and get real (and wiser) in a big way. Litowinsky gives readers a pro's perspective in this entertaining read. Recommended even to those well versed in the industry.
MAKE YOUR WORDS WORK by Gary Provost (Writers Digest, 1990). Worth re-reading now and then, if only to keep fresh what we often think we know until we start writing.
THE NOVELIST'S NOTEBOOK by Laurie Henry (Story Press, 1999). "An inspiring journal to help you complete your novel. Filled with imaginative exercises and advice from well-known writers." Written in a conversational, upbeat style, The Novelist's Notebook is a mentor in book form. Includes: planning; beginning to write; necessities; possibilities; when you're stuck; and double-checking and revising.
PICTURE WRITING by Anastasia Suen (Writers Digest, 2003). Both wide and deep, this is a helpful overview and get-you-thinking look at various types of children's books. Especially recommended to picture book writers and children's poets.
SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS: HOW TO EDIT YOURSELF INTO PRINT by Renni Browne and Dave King with illustrations by George Booth (HarperCollins, 1994). Engaging text and helpful exercises.
SOME WRITERS DESERVE TO STARVE! 31 BRUTAL TRUTHS ABOUT THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY by Elaura Niles (Writer’s Digest, 2005). Funny, thoughtful, conversational, this hip, small volume is jam-packed with street smarts. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. More on this title from Cynsations.
TERRIFIC CONNECTIONS WITH AUTHORS, ILLUSTRATORS AND STORYTELLERS: REAL SPACE AND VIRTUAL LINKS by Toni Buzzeo and Jane Kurtz (Libraries Unlimited, 1999). Unlike other author visit guides, this book goes beyond nuts-and-bolts planning to illustrate how to create the best accessible encounters between students and authors. Choosing the guest, guidelines for successful visits, making curriculum connections, using e-mail to connect with bookpeople, having live chats in virtual space, taking advantage of ITB and satellite technology, and using such props as realia and curriculum guides are covered. Grades K-12. To order call: 1.800.237.6124.
WHAT'S YOUR STORY? A YOUNG PERSON'S GUIDE TO WRITING FICTION by Marion Dane Bauer (Clarion, 1992). An excellent overview of the craft of writing, including story plans, selecting an idea, character, focus, plot, point of view, beginnings, dialogue, story tension, endings, revising, and polishing as well as fiction writing as a career. Marion's clear, conversational style makes for a read as enjoyable as it is enlightening. Though marketed to young writers, also highly recommended to adult writers. Marion dedicates this title to her editor James Cross Giblin. Ages 12-up. See also A WRITER'S STORY: FROM LIFE TO FICTION, also by Marion (Clarion, 1995) and THE GIBLIN GUIDE TO WRITING CHILDREN'S BOOKS by James Cross Giblin (Writer's Institute Publications, 2005)(fourth edition—revised and updated). See An Interview with Marion Dane Bauer on Cynsations.
WRITING AND SELLING THE YA NOVEL by K.L. Going (Writer's Digest, 2008). Here's an excerpt: "When you watch the world around you, keep an eye out for conflict and tension. Part of what appealed to me about that particular news story was that the teens were meeting with resistance from the school board and people in their town. This intrigued me. I wanted to know how they would handle the opposition and how the situation would get resolved. Conflict makes for great stories, and although we wish it didn’t exist, it’s everywhere." See An Interview with K.L. Going from Cynsations.
WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR DUMMIES by Deborah Halverson, forward by M.T. Anderson (For Dummies, 2011). Note: articles include "On Paranormal: More than Monsters" by Cynthia Leitich Smith.
THE WRITER'S JOURNEY: MYTHIC STRUCTURE FOR STORYTELLERS AND SCREENWRITERS 2nd edition by Christopher Vogler (Paper, Michael Wiese, 1998). Essential to understanding some of the expectations of the mainstream market. Once you know it and understand it, you can adapt, play with, or reject it.
WRITERS WORKSHOP IN A BOOK: THE SQUAW VALLEY COMMUNITY OF WRITERS ON THE ART OF FICTION edited by Alan Cheuse and Lisa Alvarez, introduction by Richard Ford (Chronicle, 2007). This 219-page collection of essays is an entertaining, inspiring, and informative read--bursting with insights and perspective. Its target audience may write for grown-ups, but there's plenty here for those committed to youth literature.