January 3, 2011

Top 6-1/2 List: Finding a Publisher Is a Lot Like Dating . . .


I met Lisa Bullard years ago at an SCBWI conference in L.A. We sat in the hotel's hot tub, eavesdropping on the faculty dinner conversation. What fun!

Lisa has written more books than I've probably read! And she teaches, too.

A member of my critique group took her online course and GUSHED about how much time, energy and practical advice Lisa offers.

Here's what a student had to say about the online course: “This class has been incredible—challenging, inspiring, chock full of so much information.” —Ellen

Lisa teamed up with Laura Purdie Salas to team-teach two terrific on-line courses. (Details at the end.)

They've taken the time to share a fun/practical 6-1/2 list with us today.

Without further ado, here are Lisa Bullard and Laura Purdie Salas and their fab 6-1/2 list . . .




  1. Learn to truly know yourself before you go looking for a partner. The more you understand about your manuscript and how it fits into the publishing landscape, the better job you’ll do of matching it with the right editor or agent. One of the best ways to understand where you fit is to read as many other writers’ current kid’s books as you can—and take note of who published them.
  2. Screening your dates ahead of time can help you avoid heartache. Learn everything you can about an editor or agent before you submit your work to them. Examine their catalog and/or website—it’s like looking through the yearbook or Facebook page of a potential date. You can see where they’re going, their history, and the kinds of authors they’ve “dated” before. Equally important, you can find out if they’re looking for somebody who’s your type, or if they’re likely to reject you sight unseen.
  3. Don’t give up after one failed relationship. Giving up after being rejected by just one editor or agent—however much you thought they were your perfect match—would be like giving up on marriage after you break up with your middle school crush. Allow some time for wallowing, and then figure out what you’ve learned from the rejection and move on.
  4. The more connections you have, the easier it is to get set up with the right person. Go to writer’s conferences, join a critique group, read blogs, post in chat rooms, attend author readings. The wider your personal circle of fellow children’s book lovers, the more likely you’ll find somebody who is willing to help you make a connection with the right editor or agent. And once you’ve been set up, editors and agents will be delighted to find out you’re already a part of the children’s book world, and not just a wallflower who sits home alone on Saturday nights.
  5. Avoid earning a bad reputation. All the publishing professionals seem to know each other one way or another, and gossip travels fast in the “small town” of publishing. Never burn bridges—always remain professional and cordial, no matter how frustrating the process becomes.
  6. Be cautious about playing the field. Many editors and agents ask authors for an “exclusive” look at a manuscript, at least for the period of time they say is their manuscript evaluation period. So if a certain “monogamous” partner is high on your hopeful list, you may want to avoid playing the field rather than risk a damaged relationship.

6-1/2. Trying to place your manuscript is a lot like first love. There are the same huge hopes, the same butterflies-in-the-belly moments, the same sense of crushing defeat when you’ve been rejected. But when you finally make that first publishing match, there’s nothing else quite like it—it’s something you’ll remember for the rest of your life!

Lisa Bullard and Laura Purdie Salas are children’s books writers who team-teach online classes on a regular basis, including two popular offerings that focus on how to find the right publisher for your manuscript: Matchmaking Your Manuscript: Finding the Children’s Book Publisher that Is Right for You and Love at First Sight: How to Write a Cover Letter that Makes Editors “Swoon.” Registration for the next round of classes ends January 10, 2011, so check out this link soon! http://www.childrensliteraturenetwork.org/events/workshops/matchmaking.php.

Lisa Bullard is the author of more than fifty books for young readers, including the award-winning Trick-or-Treat on Milton Street and You Can Write a Story! A Story-Writing Recipe for Kids. Lisa regularly teaches children’s book writing at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and online. Her background includes sixteen years working as a publishing professional. You can learn more about Lisa by visiting her website at http://www.lisabullard.com, where you can also access her “Writing Road Trip” blog that features tips for teaching writing to kids.

Laura Purdie Salas started out writing for adults, but she soon discovered that kids were her favorite audience. Her books include Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School and Bookspeak: Poems About Books (forthcoming), both with Clarion. Laura teaches writing for children through the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and online and is a former instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature. You can learn more about Laura at her website http://www.laurasalas.com and her blog http://laurasalas.livejournal.com.


Jill N. said...

Thank you for the fabulous post Lisa and Laura (and Donna!). Great advice for those of us looking for their perfect soul mate...er...editor.

Linda said...

Thanks for the post. I can relate. I'm looking for Press Charming.

Wild About Words said...

Ha! "Press Charming." Love it, Linda! May 2011 be the year your "Press" comes in. :)