Hi folks, this week, I'm serving up some non-fiction wisdom from the talented Janet Fox. Janet is from my old stomping ground in College Station, Texas, where I lived for 13 years. Janet is a writer, former teacher, and ARA of the Brazos Valley, Texas, affiliate of SCBWI. She found her way into children's writing in the mid-90s. Her son’s learning differences led her to develop ideas described in her award-winning book for Free Spirit Publishing, Get Organized Without Losing It (2006).
Janet's a super-star on the rise for sure. Her other published work for children includes fiction (Spider Magazine) and science non-fiction (Highlights for Children). Her young adult novel, Faithful (Puffin/Penguin), debuts in spring 2010, followed by a sequel in 2011. She is currently a student in the MFA/Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. You will probably want check out her blog for more fun info: Kidswriterjfox.
So like any good writer, I'm always looking for the best advice. Janet was able to offer insight into my burning questions. First she gave her take on a "best research" tip.
Janet's take: Biggest research tip - that's a tough one, because I have two! First, research your market thoroughly. I wrote a non-fiction self-help for kids, and once I created my outline and sample chapters, I researched the market to find the right house. I must have done well in that respect because I only queried one house and they bought the project. Second, some up front research is necessary in order to sell a project, but most non-fiction is sold before the book is written (unlike fiction!) I did my preliminary research but waited until the book was sold before going deep. This saved me from being out of date, and from researching in areas that the publisher might not have wanted in the book.
I'm also always on the look-out for the pitfalls, so I can avoid climbing out of the ditch. Janet had some great advice - My biggest pitfall? The process was pretty straightforward for me. I did have two editors - not something I did, but the house changed my editor in mid-project - and that caused some miscommunication. I think I would be more forthright today, and discuss the project with the publisher or senior editor, if that happened now. But I feel much more confident than I did in those days.
Wow, good stuff. Thanks, Janet! Check back next week for the last in my non-fiction series.
Here is the doodle for the week:
Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!
Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.
Zora Neale Hurston