About a year ago, I made it my goal to contact at least one editor or publisher from every issue of the Children’s Writer that came each month. My goal was simple:
1. Find an article in the issue that I felt I could try to write (even if I wasn’t that interested in it).
2. Make a note of one editor’s name who was interviewed in that article and write down what she said about the manuscripts she liked to receive.
3. Study that publisher’s website and look for a potential new topic that would fit in with their existing product line.
4. Send a query to that editor and ask if she’d like to see a proposal for a manuscript about that new topic.
Each month as my issues came in, I dutifully fulfilled my goal and contacted at least one editor from each issue. If they didn’t include an e-mail address in their interview, I dug around on their website until I found one. Some e-mail addresses were just the company’s generic e-mail.
I was able to send e-mail queries to every single publisher I wanted to contact. Some never got back to me, but most editors did. In the e-mail, I simply stated that I read their interview in the Children’s Writer, I saw that they were interested in receiving manuscripts about topic X, and I studied their website. Then I asked if would they like to receive a proposal to write a book that would fit into their product line. I listed 2-3 ideas I had for suggested manuscripts.
Soon I had to quit following my goal. Why? I started landing so many book contracts I couldn’t keep up with the writing!
In so many writing circles, they tell us to make it our goal to submit our finished manuscripts on a steady basis. That never produces results for me. But when I made it my goal to contact at least one editor each month who was interviewed in the Children’s Writer and ask them about writing a brand new manuscript tailored to fit their product list, that’s when I started landing so many book contracts that I knew I had found a secret to success.
-contributed by Nancy I. Sanders