The 8 Habits of Highly Successful Young-Adult Fiction Authors

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

The 8 Habits of Highly Successful Young-Adult Fiction Authors

Best-selling writers including John Green and Veronica Roth share their strategies for crafting authentic, relatable teen characters — even in fantasy worlds.

Young-adult fiction, commonly called “YA fiction,” has exploded over the past decade or so: The number of YA titles published grew more than 120 percent between 2002 and 2012, and other estimates say that between 1997 and 2009, that figure was closer to 900 percent. Ask a handful of young-adult fiction writers what exactly makes a YA novel, though, and you’ll get a handful of conflicting answers.

… read the rest of the article.

Mud Pies

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

Mud Pies

For the Beginning Children’s Writer

by Teraisa J. Goldman

There is something magical about writing fiction stories for children. When you write, you are transformed into a child again, and you hear your own words as if for the first time — as a child would.

The first time I tried to write a child’s story, I sat at my computer desk waiting. I waited. Waited for something to hit me. How hard could it be, after all? It’s just a child’s story. When the story never came on its own, I forced one. It took about ten minutes. I hurried it out to the mail, just in time for the carrier to whisk it away… to rejection. I don’t think

I ever received a faster reply to any of my writing!

I wasn’t given a specific reason for the rejection; they weren’t interested.

Why not? “Writer’s Digest” had them listed as one of the top fifty markets to place fiction. I had a history of published articles, so why wouldn’t they want this story? I consulted with the experts.

My three kids were tucked into bed.

“How ’bout a story?” I asked.

“Yes!” they shouted.

“Once upon a time…” I read the entire story.

“Guess what?”

“What?” Again, in unison.

“Mommy wrote that story.”

“Oh,” said the oldest, “That’s great.”

“Would you like me to tell you another one?”

“No, thanks, mom.” The middle child answered for them.

I didn’t force the issue. They rolled over to sleep, maybe to dream of better dreams than I could write.

The following night, determined to find out what makes a good story, I asked my kids what they really love in the stories we read to them.

Princesses!” cried the middle child.

“I like the stories that are fantasy-like,” the oldest offered.

“Are dreams okay?” I ask.

“Yes, but not the obvious kind. Just slip into it.” Wise for her years, do you think?

The baby said nothing; we know she enjoys pure nonsense. Anything silly makes her squeal with delight.

They allowed me one more chance at storytelling. I promised to read them not one, but two books, if they didn’t like the new story.

Adhering to their advice, I came up with this story:


“When I Can’t Sleep”

Sometimes at night, when I can’t sleep…
And I’ve tried counting sheep,
I close my eyes and become very still
And with all my will
As I lay in my bed
I suddenly see strange things in my head.

What if I, adorned all in white, littered in jewels
Was a queen or a king – delivering rules
And when broken, the punishment would
Be to sing
To me, the queen or the king?

And isn’t it odd that I am in a bath
Flowing with bubbles, making myself
Laugh
Because I am soaked from my head
To my toes
As well as my clothes
Surrounded by singing fish in the tub –
And a whale
Isn’t that swell?

Next thing I know, I am singing on stage
Accompanied by a bird in a cage
One that did not “coo” but actually
He could sing, too.

Then, all at once, we stopped all the singing
And looked at the light shining
So bright
Have to quickly close and rub my eyes
Until I dare open them up
Surprise!

I am in my bed
The night is gone, it is morning instead.

This may not be the story you had in mind for a book or a magazine. That’s the point! It wasn’t in my mind either, but it is what the children seem to enjoy. We can’t talk down to them, we can’t talk above their heads; we have to talk with them. We have to be as they are, see what they see, and dream what they dream.

For instance, have you ever taken a child that has waken from a bad dream, talked to them, and discover their sense of scariness is borderline hysterical, or that you wish when you had a bad dream, it was like theirs?

Kids are different than adults. They think differently, and each age or stage of development seems to be totally different from another.

Next time you decide to tackle a child’s story, get down on the floor and watch, listen, hear, and play with them. You’ll be glad you did, as you open your acceptance letter.

What Are Your Chances of Getting Published?

YOUNG ADULT-CHILDREN: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them. Find what you want to know.

The only difference between a writer and someone who wants to be a writer is discipline.
– Ayelet Waldman

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
– William Faulkner

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
– Isaaac Asimov

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I’m grown up, they call me a writer.
– Isaac Singer

The great art of writing is knowing when to stop.
– Josh Billings

I don’t want to write for adults.  I want to write for readers who can perform miracles.  Only children perform miracles when they read.
– Astrid Lindgren

Most new writers think it’s easy to write for children, but it’s not.  You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story, write well, not be condescending — all in a few pages.
– Andrea Brown

What Are Your Chances of Getting Published?

by Laura BackesWriteForKids.org

Most beginning children’s writers are curious about their chances of ever seeing their work in print. Editors have told me that a mid- to large-sized publishing house gets upwards of 5000 unsolicited submissions a year. About 95% are rejected right off the bat (most get form letters, a few promising authors get personalized notes stating why the manuscript was rejected). Of the 5% left, some are queries for which the editors request entire manuscripts. Others are manuscripts submitted in their entirety, and these go on to the next stage of the acquisitions process (get passed around the editorial department, presented at editorial meetings, perhaps looked at by sales staff to get a sense of the market for the book). The end result is that 1-2% of unsolicited submissions are actually purchased for publication.

But, you ask, if so few manuscripts are bought from the slush pile, why are so many new books are published each year? The unsolicited “slush” comes from authors the editors have never worked with before: new writers and those who don’t have agents. Experienced writers and those who have already published with that house make up the rest of the list.

Before you trash your computer and take up knitting, let’s put this all in perspective. Most manuscripts are rejected because they’re just plain bad. The stories are trite, the characters wooden, the endings predictable. The plots may smack of didacticism or patronize the young reader. Authors who don’t understand the basic rules of grammar or who can’t send a properly formatted manuscript won’t get a close look. Those who submit their work to every publisher listed in Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market instead of taking the time to target publishers appropriate for their work add substantially to the glut of publishers’ mail (and the eventual banning of unsolicited submissions by some houses).

If you take the time to learn how to write a strong story with multifaceted characters, your manuscript will rise to the top. If you study the age group for which you want to write, and keep the length and content appropriate for your audience, your work will stand out. If you watch the current market and find a niche you can fill, an editor is more likely to give you careful consideration.

One more point: General fiction is the most competitive genre in any age group of children’s books. It’s also the most subjective, meaning your manuscript has to appeal to exactly the right editor. If you have any interest in nonfiction and can approach a topic in a unique, entertaining way, you’ll be a bigger fish in a much smaller pond. Or, try narrowing your niche so your work stands out from the ocean of fiction: write historical fiction for beginning readers, funny mysteries for middle grades, science fiction for young adults. Stretching your writing beyond general fiction will give you a “hook” and also help you zero in on publishers who want exactly what you’ve got.

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Copyright 2002, Children’s Book Insider, LLC

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