Monthly Archives: November 2018

Writing an Educational Book Proposal

Before I submit a proposal, whether it has been commissioned or is unsolicited, I look for a gap in the market. I always check out my local library and online bookstores to see if there is a book on the subject already and if there is how could I approach it from a new angle that would be relevant to the classroom today. If I do find a gap, I think why is it there? Is there a demand for the subject? And what would be another books ‘unique selling point’. Finding a new subject, or even better a new slant on an old subject is half the battle.

As in all forms of writing, it is important to study the market. I have been fairly successful with writing educational resources. Today I have over 80 books published. You can see them on my website here. I have to keep reminding myself – this is very good. Yet, the hardest thing for me about writing a proposal is explaining why I am the best person to write the book. I am not very good at blowing my own trumpet.

I suppose part of the process is, feeling the fear and doing it anyway, just like Susan Jeffers books says. Also, keeping in mind we can achieve anything if we really put our minds to it. I remember when I passed my Bronze Medallion (Life Saver’s swimming certificate) in 1994. I was asked to take over training the top swimmers for the Berkshire school’s swimming gala after the previous teacher died of a brain tumour. To do this I needed to have a Life Savers certificate. I saw this as a challenge and enrolled on the RLSS Bronze Medallion course.

When I started I could not even swim one length of the 25m pool. After the twelve week course I could swim 20 lengths in under 20 minutes and fetch a body from the bottom of the pool, fully clothed. To achieve this I had to go swimming at least three times a week, sometimes more. I was still on maternity leave and so had the time to do it but, my stomach muscles were very weak and I could not pull myself out of the pool when I started, I had to use the steps.

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I got the highest marks in the group on the theory exam. But, it was sheer determination that got me through. And you know what? We went home with the relay trophy every single year, until I moved schools and stopped doing the job.

Book Review – Dougal Daley I’m Phenomenal

Title: Dougal Daley I’m Phenomenal

Written by: Jackie Marchant

Illustrated by: Loretta Schauer

Published by: Wacky Bee Books

The Dougal Daley books are funny mid-grade stories about a young boy who always seems to land himself in trouble with his antics. The third in the series is about Dougal’s ingenious enterprise to make money by setting up a website to help people. Obviously he has to keep this a secret from his parents.

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The books are fun, exciting and visually engaging. I believe they will encourage even the most reluctant reader to read. I particularly like the inclusion of multi media in the book, with pages from Dougal’s website, email messages, school letters and text messages all included as part of the story. This along with Loretta Schauer’s brilliant character sketches gives the book a really modern up-to-date feel.

I was lucky enough to be invited to Jackie’s book launch where there was wine and cup cakes.

In the March 2018 issue of Writers Forum I interviewed Jackie Marchant about the Dougal Daley series. Jackie told me her inspiring story of how the books were given an incredible face lift by changing the name of the main character and using a new illustrator, after meeting Louise Jordan at the London Book Fair. Louise Jordan runs the publishing company Wacky Bee. She told Louise her story and Louise went away and read the original books. She then contacted Jackie to say she loved them and would like to publish all three titles.

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You can find out more about this interview in the #197 March 2018 issue of Writers Forum.

You can find out more about Jackie and her books on her website:  www.jackiemarchant.com and follow her on Twitter at: @JMarchantAuthor 

You can find out more about Loretta Schauer and her illustrations on her website: www.lorettaschauer.com and follow her on Twitter at: @Loretta_Schauer 

 

An interview with… Becky Bagnell

My Writing 4 Children column was launched in the national writing magazine Writers’ Forum in May 2016. It has show-cased an interview every month with top authors, editors and agents for over two years. The very first feature was with  Becky Bagnell founder of the Lindsay Literary Agency.

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She provided some valuable insights into the children’s book world and explained to me what she looks for in a manuscript, what makes a good children’s book agent and what makes a great children’s book.

Becky set up the Lindsay Literary Agency in 2008 having worked as a commissioning editor for Macmillan. The agency represents a wide range of authors including Pamela Butchart, who won 2015’s Blue Peter Award. She has a particular interest in discovering new talent from picture books to YA.

I heard Becky talk at this year’s SCBWI Agent’s Party. She said her favourite commercial debut book this year was Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. This gives an indication of Becky’s taste and writing styles which will grab her attention.

Conversation with Friends

In her interview for Writers’ Forum Becky told me she likes to dive straight into the manuscript before reading the submission letter and the synopsis. This reiterates what she said in her interview with me.

I like to get that excited feeling about a manuscript at the very first paragraph, and if I’m still keen after the first three chapters it is a pretty good sign.

She suggests that you look at that agent’s list of authors and really consider if you like any of their work and if you do then tell the agent what it about a certain book or author that appeals to you. Even if their work is completely different to your own – it shows that you’re a reader and you’re thinking about how your writing might fit alongside the other authors that the agent is working with.

You can find out more about Becky Bagnell’s likes and dislikes for submissions in the May 2016 #175 issue of Writers Forum.

Writing Educational Resources

The main difference I’ve found between writing educational resources and writing fiction is… you get commissioned to write educational books. This means I know my work is going to be published before I’ve written the book. It is also a more of a group effort than writing a novel, with input at each stage of the books development.

I was a teacher for many years and this background in education is beneficial, as I’ve studied most subjects in depth and know what is required in a classroom situation. I can also write to match the targets of the National Curriculum.

When I tell people I was a teacher, the first thing they ask is what did you teach. I usually said, “Children.” But, then I felt guilty for being flippant and would say, “As a primary school teacher you name it, and I have taught it.” Now I say, “As a writer you name it and I’ll write it.” This is very true. I love research and so if I don’t know anything on a subject I will spend time finding out about it.

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I prefer it when the publisher rings me up, or emails me, and says we’ve got an idea for a project. This really gets me to focus. Turn around times are quite fast in comparison to fiction and the books are published within a few months of submitting the final draft of the manuscript, which is actually good as you get to see that final product really quick. None of this hanging around waiting for two years. Even so, it is still important to get started on the next book before the one you have just written is out.

Launch of my new blog

Today I am launching my new blog all about Writing for Children. It is going to be jammed pack full of information about the many books I have written, interviews I have done, book reviews I have written and my writing advice. My aim is to share with the world my immense writing experience and background.

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I write two slots for the national writing magazine, Writers Forum and will be announcing on my blog when the new features are out and who I have interviewed. I will give teasers from the magazine in the hope you will want to find out more. I have already posted a Research Secrets blog post, which you can take a look at here. I will also be including snippets from interviews I have done for the stationery blog Papers Pens Poets.

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Book reviews are one of my many writing specialisms. I have been writing book reviews for many years for a variety of websites and magazines including the Historical Association, Nikki Gamble’s Write Away and Armadillo Children’s Book Review Magazine. I plan to post a review each week which will include a mixture of some of my favourite books and new releases . I already have a book review on the blog so you can see what to expect. Take a look here.  I thought it was quite an appropriate book review as I have migrated from Blogger to WordPress.

Leave me a comment…

It is an exciting time and I hope you will comment and share my posts. I have been writing in a vacuum for years, blogging without anyone knowing. Now is the time to get out there and be noticed. So if you just want to say ‘Hi’, or let me know your opinion, please do. I would love to hear from you.