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REVIEW The Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market, Edited by Alice Pope

Kickstart your creativity

The good news is: the book warns you that you are going to get a lot of rejections so rejections come as no surprise. The bad news is: reading a book on writing for kids is no guarantee of success. Writing for children is still about a being at the right place, at the right time.

But eternal hope abounds. Besides, I have an instant readership of three children and their friends in my whole household. And I would be a sadder person if I couldn't indulge my writing.

To those serious about writing for children I recommend keeping a copy of the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market next to your computer.

The Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market is a specialist version of the venerable Writer's Market published by Writer's Digest Books. Casting one's eye over the Writer's Digest backlist, one gathers that there is a lot of money to be had out of unpublished writers like me. The Writer's Digest books cover the whole gamut of writing - from handbooks on writing mysteries to writing romances. And the Writer's Market is the daddy of them all, a two-inch thick tome of listings of agents and publishers in the United States.

But why, British readers may ask, am I recommending it to one and all if its listings only apply to the United States.

Well, the U.S. listings are useful for non-Americans because realising the massive number of publishers out there is encouraging to the unpublished writer, to say the least. But I have found myself turning to the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market when seeking insight to kick-start a creative process.

For example, in my (no longer current edition) of the Children's Market, there are chapters for writers new to children's publishing, with suggestions to help you move in the right direction; writing effective query letters; the basics of writing a synopsis; creating believable characters; plus interviews with publishers, agents, illustrators and writers, asking the questions YOU would have wanted to ask them. The most encouraging chapter for me was the chapter on first books, about last year's first-time authors, how they wrote their books and how they got them published. The most useful chapter was the chapter on writing query letters which has a slew of good and bad query letters marked up to show why they did or didn't work.

There is a little bit of rah rah feel-good-about-it stuff that is common to American self-help titles, but inspiration always outweighs my irritation.

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