Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.

—Hal Borland

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Manuscript Consulting



Kate's Tree of Words

Manuscript Consulting
Fine-tuning Your Children's Book

"The Reluctant Dragon"
—Maxfield Parrish

You've written a children's book and want someone knowledgeable to check it out before you send it to an agent or editor...

Or maybe you've sent it out and have gotten a few rejection letters. Now you're wondering just what it was that kept your story from getting that wonderful YES.

This is where I come in!

Consider me your guinea pig editor or agent. Except that they often send out baffling form rejection letters, whereas I will give you some ideas about just what is and isn't working so that you can fine-tune your story.

Ten for a Hundred
Up to 10 pages, $100

Most editors know within 2-3 pages whether they're interested, but let's round that up to 10 pages, whether single- or double-spaced. This will easily cover an entire picture book or a chapter or two of a middle grade or young adult novel.

In addition to your ten pages, please include a one-page outline or synopsis for an MG/YA novel.

What do you get? An analysis of strengths and weaknesses, including suggestions for heightening the impact of strengths and for addressing weaknesses without losing the power of your personal voice and vision. Expect a detailed letter of 2-4 pages addressing key issues.

In the case of poetry, you can send 10-15 poems of up to 20 lines each. Just be aware that poetry is an extremely tough market!

Note: If you send less than 10 pages, the price is the same. The manuscript should have standard formatting, i.e., 1-inch margins and a 12-point font.

Query/Cover Letter
One page only, $25

On the one hand, editors and agents are far more interested in the manuscript itself than in the cover letter; on the other hand, you can't afford to write a bad letter.

Note: This service is only available in conjunction with Ten for a Hundred because I need to know what your letter is referring to in order to give you useful feedback.

Full Manuscript Analysis
$400+ for Middle Grade (approx. 50-70,000 words)
$500+ for Young Adult (approx. 70-90,000 words)

As a writer, I get a detailed letter from my editor about the revisions she would like to see in my manuscript before we move on to line editing and copyediting. This is the kind of letter I will provide for you, focusing on key content questions along with relevant style issues. Where needed, I will include input for improving specific scenes that aren't quite working.

Contact me to discuss the fee for your project and any particular concerns you'd like to have addressed (e.g., I'm having trouble with description and settings). In one sense, this analysis is a sophisticated writing tutorial tailored to your unique needs. And, of course, it's about dressing up your manuscript baby, cutting her hair and putting that little bow on top of her head so she'll be all ready to face the publishing world!

Did You Know?

  • The editor, not the author, gets to pick the illustrator for a picture book.

  • Most major publishers won't accept unsolicited submissions. (Check their websites to find out about current submissions policies.)

  • Poetry collections are expected to have a theme.

  • Many aspiring children's book writers and published authors belong to the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

  • Overuse of adjectives is often considered the mark of an amateur by editors and agents.

  • Picture books for older children (ages 6-9) are being published less often now because parents expect their kids to read chapter books at an earlier age.

  • The ideal length for a picture book today is under 1,000 words.

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