Nancy's Books

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Publishing Trends/Calls for Submissions

Autumn has arrived, and with the changing season, it seems appropriate to look at the changes in the publishing world. Today, I’m once again focusing on trends in children’s publishing.

The middle grade and young adult fiction markets continue to be hot, but with some deviations. For years, series and trilogies captured the attention of agents and editors and still are, but stand-alone books are beginning to as well. Favorites of young readers are fantasy, science fiction, and mysteries.
Nonfiction books dealing with history, science, and biographies are becoming more popular. This trend will probably continue due to the Common Core used by teachers across the nation.
Picture books seem to be more popular, compared to the slump in the past few years. Animal stories have been a big hit in 2013.
Beginning/early readers written with humor are growing in popularity.
I enjoy staying current with the trends, not necessarily to write toward the most popular subjects, but to gain a better understanding of the publishing world.
Call for submissions for young writers:

Speak Up Press accepts writers ages 13-19 years old as well as adult. We are always looking for new and engaging works of nonfiction for young adults. (Poetry submissions are closed.) We are looking for stories about finding voice, overcoming adversity, striking out in new directions, or being creative. Contemporary stories are preferred, but historical nonfiction is also accepted. If you are querying historical nonfiction, make sure you have a fresh and engaging angle for your story. Query one page first.

Details at 

Call for submissions for adult writers:

Spellbound is a quarterly fantasy magazine for children 8-12. Each issue will be published in ePub format.  This is a quarterly publication with reading periods.

Themes and Reading Periods:

Winter 2012: Rings & Other Magic Things, Reading Period: July 1 – September 30, 2012

Spring 2013: Changelings & Doppelgangers, Reading Period: October 1, 2012 – December 31, 2013

Summer 2013: Dragons, Reading Period:  January 1 – March 31, 2013

Fall 2013: Creatures of the Deep Dark Woods, Reading Period: April 1 – June 30, 2013 

We want Spellbound to introduce children to fantasy in all its wonderful forms.
Details at
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Sunday, September 22, 2013


This is the final article of the series, WRITING PICTURE BOOKS—SIMPLY DIFFICULT.
1.                          Add humor. Kids love to giggle. Target the humor to a specific age group. The word “underwear” will make a five-year-old laugh out loud but a toddler won’t grasp the wit. The entire narrative doesn’t have to be loaded with humor. One funny line may be enough. For the best effect, place the humorous section at the end of the sentence.   

2.                          Write the unexpected. Predictability in pictures books can be a worthy format, but the story should not be predictable. Children love to chant repeated phrases, but keep the reader guessing about the plot.  

After completing the first draft, take your writing from simply difficult to simply fun. Play with the words, tweak them, and make them zing.  

Call for submissions for young writers:

Kid's Imagination Train, an ezine for ages 5-12, is now a paying market. Fiction/Poetry is $5.00 and nonfiction articles are $10.00.
Submit manuscript by email.
Call for submissions for adult writers:

Creative Nonfiction announces an anthology about all things babies, tentatively titled "Oh Baby! True Stories about Tiny Humans."
Deadline:  October 14, 2013
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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Writing Picture Books--Simply Difficult, part 4/Calls for Submissions

This article is the fourth in the series, WRITING PICTURE BOOKS—SIMPLY DIFFICULT. Tips for writing nonfiction picture books.

Nonfiction literary devices. Creative nonfiction is a genre that uses literary devices often used by poets and fiction writers. The information is factual with a fun and interesting presentation. Biographies are often written in a creative nonfiction style and many have longer text than the typical picture book. Most of my fiction picture books are less than 650 words but my biographies are approximately 1,100 words.
Speak to both the child and the adult. Sometimes, children want a particular book read over and over. If the character is creating chaos, aka misbehaving, develop an appropriate ending. If a lesson is learned, keep it subtle. Didactic stories that stress a message or moral don’t work in today’s market. THE MUNCHED-UP FLOWER GARDEN has a theme of “hard work pays off,” but those words are not in print, just implied.

This article will be continued in next week’s blog.

Call for submissions for young writers:

Letters About Literature Contest. Open to Children 4th-12th grade
Submission deadline for grades 9 to 12- December 10, 2013
Submission deadline for grades 4 to 8- January 10, 2014

Is there a favorite book or poem that changed your life? Why not write to that author and tell him or her just how important it was? Letters About Literature, sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, encourages students to write to authors.

Letters About Literature is a reading and writing contest for students in grades 4-12. Students are asked to read a book, poem or speech and write to that author (living or dead) about how the book affected them personally. Letters are judged on state and national levels. Tens of thousands of students from across the country enter Letters About Literature each year. Winners receive national recognition.

Call for submissions for adult writers:

 Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking submissions for a number of upcoming potential books. Topics include: Think Positive for Kids, The Dating Game, Miracles, and Multi-Tasking Moms.

Check out more contests on my blog:

Sunday, September 8, 2013


 This article is the third in the series, WRITING PICTURE BOOKS—SIMPLY DIFFICULT.

1.                      Numbered scenes. Most picture books are 32 pages, but only 28-29 pages are used for text. With double-page spreads, the story is told in 14-15 scenes. After writing your story, divide it into scenes (pieces of action). If you have fewer than 14, revise the manuscript. I number the scenes on the manuscript, but remove the numbers before submitting the story. With each page turn, make the reader wonder what will happen next.
2.                      Story problem. Fictional picture books come in all shapes and sizes and cover any topic relevant to a child. The character, usually a child or animal, has a problem and makes multiple attempts to solve the problem. In the end the character that is experiencing the problem needs to figure out the solution. The payoff is when the child/animal wins.
This article will be continued in next week’s blog.

Call for submissions for young writers:

River of Words Art and Poetry Contest. Open to children K-12th grade. US submissions deadline- December 1, 2013. International submission deadline- February 1, 2014. Nature has been the greatest source of inspiration for artists and poets since humans began drawing on the walls of caves and singing sagas. Yet despite its importance, environmental and arts education is marginalized in the United States. This sorry scenario is increasingly true in other countries as well. River of Words was founded to give new life to the teaching of art and poetry through watershed exploration. Our innovative Watershed Explorer Educator’s Guide brings together sketching and botany, nature journaling and poetry writing. Students who participate are encouraged to submit their work to our free international art and poetry contest, held annually since 1995 in conjunction with the Center of the Book in the Library of Congress.
Details at:
Call for submissions for adult writers:

A Fairy Tale Magazine. Each month, two works, a story or poem or some combination, will be chosen for publication. The winners will each receive a $25 gift certificate from a place like Amazon. The gift certificate will be through email only and will be in US dollars only.
Details at

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Sunday, September 1, 2013


Beginning with this blog, I will post markets for both young writers and adult writers each week through May, 2014.
This article is the second in the series, WRITING PICTURE BOOKS—SIMPLY DIFFICULT.
1.                      Word choice. Use action verbs to energize your writing with dramatic impact: “sprint” or “mosey” reveals more than “ran” or “walk.” Read your manuscript aloud. Does the text have a rhythm? Do you hear the music of the words? Use poetic devices, such as similes and metaphors, which are pleasing to the ear. I used the same words—fizzle and sizzle—to produce both nouns and verbs for a lyrical sound in BARRELING OVER NIAGARA FALLS:  When the sizzle fizzled out of teaching music, and the fizzle sizzled out of teaching dance 

2.                          Think visually. Writers are accustomed to creating worlds with words, but in picture books, we have to consider movement for each scene. Provide a change in the movement in each scene to allow the illustrator opportunities to carry the story beyond the text. Rely on action to tell the story. 

This article will be continued in next week’s blog. 

Call for submissions for young writers:

CREATIVE KIDS MAGAZINE is looking for the very best material by students (ages 8–16). Material may include cartoons, songs, stories between 500 and 1200 words, puzzles, photographs, artwork, games, editorials, poetry, and plays, as well as any other creative work that can fit in the pages of the magazine.
Details at

Call for submissions for adult writers:

The Chattahoochee Review. Send via online form. Online Form. Theme: The Animal. Be sure to mention the theme in your cover letter.  

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