Friday, October 19, 2018

Who Should Receive Your Work?

Starting With the "Who"

There is so much to talk about. Today I want to write about the general people who should receive your dummy. Much of this is my opinion and in many cases doing something different may not be wrong. Obviously what I write on my blog is my opinion, but in some of these cases I will be talking about my preferences. Please do your own research and know that you can find success if you disagree with me on any of these points.

If you are planning to send out your dummy there are a lot of things to think about. Who wants your dummy? How do they want it? When do they want it? All these are great questions. Today I'm going to talk about the "Who". 

Who should receive your dummy? It use to be an easy answer. About 20 years ago the answer was almost always Editors and Art Directors. Agents back then usually came after the first book. I know this information came from at least one of the Writer's Digest books back in the day, and may have even came from one of the "Writer's Market" books.


Recently I listened to Jennifer Laughran's Literaticast. You can find her podcast here:  The podcast is absolutely wonderful and this one in particular is the most current one: "Schmagents get a Schmackdown with guest agent Kelly Sonnack" (@literaticat and @ksonnack on twitter) Near the end of the podcast Kelly talked about how if you want to work with an agent you should send the work to an agent first! If you shop your work around too much first, then you agent wont have any place to send your work! If an agent gets to you first they may offer invaluable advice about your manuscript. Also in most cases they will share the work with other agents within their agency.  (This whole podcast is great and talks about what an agent should do for you and how to get an agent.)

It should be noted that an agent will usually review your manuscript and get back to you more quickly than a publisher. Some publishers get back to people quickly but it's not uncommon for them to take a year (or more) to get back to you. I believe that it's usually assumed by agents that you are sending your work out to several other agents, while publishing houses it's assumed that the work is only being sent to them. Because of that you may not need to tell an agent that you have a simultaneous submission, but you will need to tell a publisher. Also many publishers do not accept simultaneous submissions. Be sure to check the guidelines for more information!

Agents After the Fact

If you do decide to send your work out to an editor or art director then you still have a chance to get an agent after receiving a contract (but before signing the contract). I have two friends who recently went with this method and both got an agent quickly after the fact. This somewhat decreases options as you will have to go with the house that has offered you a contract.

Small Publishers

There is the option to send work to smaller publishers. They are a bit easier to publish through. Advances and royalties may be expected to be lower (at least at first). A popular Small Press book may be in run for decades and may be a good source of passive income. 

PAL Memberships

Make sure that your publisher is a PAL member. PAL membership allows you to become a full member of the SCBWI. Do your research. Just because a publisher is a PAL member it does not mean that it's the right fit for you. If you have friends who have published with a particular publisher first ask them about their experience. PAL publishers have a list of guidelines to follow. These do not mean that a publisher is perfect by any means. To read more about these guidelines look here: There is also a list of pal publishers here:

Sending Out Work

If you want to send your illustrations for publishers to consider for their books you can send that directly to publishers. I asked on #kidlitart chat on Twitter (Follow @kidlitart and search #kidlitart Thursday nights at 9pm ET and 6pm PT) and everyone who was asked said they sent their work directly to both art directors and editors (you could do the same with the full dummy). It should be also noted that many publishing companies have Acquisitions editors that have the ability to acquire books for their publishing companies.  

Monday, October 15, 2018

Even More Winners!

I'll have some more info for you this week. Weekend was crazy here! Birthday celebration and all. Here's are the last of the winners!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to make a one time donation?
Buy me a coffee from Kofi:

Friday, October 12, 2018

Cover Letters and More Winners!

It should be noted before I start that the poster from Vivianne is not 8x10 it's 12x18'. I changed it in the post but forgot to change it in the rafflecopter! I'm going to quickly talk about cover letters. You should do a lot of research on cover letters to craft a letter that compels an agent or editor to read your work. Here is an example of what a cover letter looks like. The letter is in regular text and extra info is bolded.

The opening of the cover letter should always be a specific person's name.

Dear Jane Doe,

1st Paragraph-- These first lines should tell the agent/editor why you are sending them your book and introduce your book. Some people like to leave this out, but I've heard more people say they prefer a personalized letter!

I have been following you for some time on Twitter. I love your thread about publishing mistakes! I heard you were looking for funny stories with heart. I believe my story "Two Peas Too Many" is just what you are looking for. Choose at least 2 stories that are like your book. It's a mix between "Baa Baa Black Sheep and Harry Potter" and is 490 words. (Always use picture books comps if you are pitching a picture book.)

2nd Paragraph -- This part is your pitch

Two peas are in an epic feud about which side of their pod is the best. Poor Little Pea is stick in the middle of the fight and the pod! Only Little Pea can see the danger outside the pod. Little Pea must push back against his pushy brothers so they can escape the jaws of hungry caterpillar.  I'm not saying this is a good pitch, but pitches are the most important part of your cover letter! If nothing else make sure this goes through several revisions before you hit send!

3rd Paragraph -- This tells about you. Include any formal training, publishing credits, memberships, your website with portfolio, email and your phone number. It's a good idea to have your name and your email or website on your dummy as well as it could be separated from the cover letter. 

I have a BFA in Illustration. My recent publishing credits include the June issue of "Highlights" and the October issue of "Cricket". I am a current member of the SCBWI. I received the cool award for my snowman drawing (Only include awards that you don't pay to have on your books). You can find my work at My email is and my phone number is (123) 555- 5555. I have many manuscripts and a polished dummy if you want to see more of my work. I look forward to hearing from you.


Your Name Here   

Here are some more winners! I'll announce the rest on Monday! I'll have more information for you on Monday for finishing your work and publishing. I'm so sorry this week has been really busy! a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Smart Dummies Prize Winners!

Here are the first prize winners for the Smart Dummies! I will be emailing the winners soon, and then sending their details to the prize givers. Congratulations to all the winners! a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 5, 2018

Practically Porcupine Laura Renauld

Laura Renauld's first picture book Porcupine pie comes out on October 9th. Laura told me about her book and showed me the cover. I just had to know more. What's in the pie? Who is this wonderful writer who writes about porcupines and pie? Are there more pies in Laura's future? I just had to interview Laura to learn all I could!

You can buy Porcupine Pie here: or at anywhere online that sells her book. If you pre-order from the US now Laura will send you a signed book plate!


Dani: Who influenced you most in your writing career?

Laura: When I was a teacher, I had a colleague who encouraged my writing. She gave me Georgia Heard’s book Writing Toward Home and was a valuable source of quotes and texts that she called ‘literary gifts’. With her by my side, I found the courage to begin. That was over ten years ago, but I will always be indebted to my friend for supporting me as I took my first baby steps as a writer.

Dani:  What kind of pie is Porcupine's Pie?

Laura: Good question! I decided that Porcupine’s specialty for Fall Feast Day was her Famous Cranberry Pie. But when she loses an important ingredient, her friends support her and together they create a new tradition: Friendship Pie! There’s even a recipe for Friendship Pie at the back of the book.

(As a side note, my first inkling of this idea was a jot in my notebook that said “How to Make Porcupine Pie”. That sounded a bit too macabre! Needless to say, I pursued a different angle, making Porcupine the protagonist, instead of the victim.)

Dani:  Can you tell us a bit about the #KidsNeedMentors initiative and why you joined?

Laura: #KidsNeedMentors is a way for educators and authors to team up in pursuit of our common purpose: exciting kids about reading and writing! Authors Ann Braden and Jarrett Lerner, and fifth grade teachers Kristin Crouch and Kristen Picone, are the team behind the movement. During this pilot year, author/teacher pairs are encouraged to connect by mail, by video chat, and maybe even in-person. Students build a relationship with one author over the course of the school year.

I signed up to participate because #KidsNeedMentors sounded like a game-changer to me. Teachers and school districts often lack the resources they need to bring authors to schools. And writers feel isolated at their desks or amid the book-signing crowd where connections with readers are fleeting. With this partnership program, authors can bond with the very people they write for: kids! I am looking forward to sharing my writing journey with the learning journey of the students I’m paired with.

Dani:  What do you wish you knew about writing when you were younger? 

Laura: Oh my! Where do I start? I wish I knew that writing a “breakfast to bed” story is not very satisfying. It took me a very long time to realize (and I still need reminders!) that a picture book develops from one key moment; one emotion; one unexpected circumstance. It has to be super-focused in order to explore the heart of the story with insight and depth.

My foundation for creative writing actually came from teaching Writer’s Workshop to my third graders. I learned as much from those mini-lessons as they did!

Dani:  What's next for you?

Laura: Now I get to enter the world of book signings and school visits! Visit my website to see where I’ll be next:

My next book is a picture book biography called Fred’s Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers. It is scheduled to release in Fall 2019 from Atheneum, with Brigette Barrager illustrating.


Connect with me online at: and on social media:

Twitter - @laura_renauld

Facebook – @kidlitlaura

Instagram - @laurarenauld


Laura Renauld is a former third grade teacher who now spends her days imagining and creating. When she is not writing picture books about porcupines, pirates, and pickles, Laura can be found on a trail, at the library, or in the kitchen. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and their two story-telling sons. This is her debut picture book.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Smart Dummies Oath!

Winner Badge!
Here it is! The Smart Dummies oath. If you completed at least 24-30 pages (or 12-15 spreads) CONGRATULATIONS are in order! You have completed the Smart Dummies challenge! Your images just need to be black and white. The images can all be done in pencil. If you did more than good for you!

Please do not send me your Dummies! We are on the honor's system. You MUST COMMENT on this oath in order to be eligible for the big prizes and have registered at the beginning of the event. You MUST comment on the posts of the prizes you want! I posted all the links yesterday.

Your dummy does not have to be perfect. You can even say that you will be changing everything. You just need a reasonable draft. Reasonable draft = Clean and clear enough that you can give it to someone for feedback. You can interpret this however you want.

The Smart Dummies Oath:

I do solemnly swear that I have completed the Smart Dummies challenge. I have completed at least 24 pages (or 12 spreads) for my Children's Book Dummy this month. I will continue to get my dummy submission ready so I can send it out into the world. 

I will give everyone about a week (Drawings will happen on October 7th and I will begin posting the winners on the 8th ) for people to comment on this and the prize posts. Thank you all for being a part of Smart Dummies this year!

I will be posting info soon for sending out your dummy!

Help out Smart Dummies:

If you enjoyed Smart Dummies this year please consider supporting the event on Patreon! Smart Dummies will always be free. Every year I will update the planner and have free downloads for the planner. Please support me so I can continue to motivate illustrators to create their dummies, and keep up with different costs that come up for the event!

Want to make a one time donation?
Buy me a coffee from Kofi:

Thank you for joining Smart Dummies this year!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Share Day Week 4!

It's Share Day. Week 4! Thank you all for sharing your wonderful work with me and everyone who reads this blog. 

While share day is over, I will still be sharing art over on Instagram! If you have an account let me know and I can share your art. My account is:

Diane Gronas --

Diane Gronas --

Arthur Haywood --

Katie Carrberry --

Lisa Burvant

Stephanie Hermanek-Olsen --

Tamar Dolev --

Tara Santoro --


Virginia Rinkle --

Virginia Rinkle --