Nancy's Books

Sunday, June 23, 2019

I’ve Finished My Manuscript, Now What? Part 1

A few times each month, beginning writers contact me asking for directions, primarily, what to do after they finish their manuscripts. First of all, congratulations are in order. Finishing a manuscript is no small task. 
My initial reaction is to advise the writers to do nothing with the manuscript for a month or so, and in the meantime, begin another writing project and find a critique partner to read the manuscript and offer feedback.

After revising the manuscript and polishing it, make a submission list of appropriate publishers. If a publisher doesn’t accept unsolicited manuscripts or accepts only middle grade and young adult, sending a picture book will garner nothing but a rejection. The goal is to submit to a particular editor or agent. Writers need an individual who will love the work and promote it within the publishing house or literary agency.

Editors and what they are looking for in manuscripts can be found in  Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market, a book that is sold or can be ordered at bookstores or online. Guide to Literary Agents is another source if you choose to go the agent route.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
SPIDER, a literary magazine for children, features fresh and engaging literature, poems, articles, and activities for newly independent readers. Editors seek energetic, beautifully crafted submissions with strong “kid appeal” (an elusive yet recognizable quality, often tied to high-interest elements such as humor, adventure, and suspense).  

Submission guidelines at

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK. Check out her blog at

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Writing Nonfiction

When I decide on a topic for a nonfiction book, I consider three elements: curiosity about a subject, the desire to know more, and the number of published books on the topic. I’ll spend weeks researching facts before I write the first word of the book. 

My interest in writing DEAR KOMODO DRAGON began when I visited a zoo and saw “Big Man,” the name given to a ten-foot-long Komodo dragon. I knew nothing about the magnificent creatures, but my interest grew the longer I watched it flick its yellow tongue and maneuver in a clumsy walk. But was my interest enough to spend weeks working on a manuscript that may or may not get published? And how would I present the information in a way that is different than other Komodo dragon books already in the marketplace? 

I pondered these questions as I wrote other books. One day when I talked with some students who discussed how much they love receiving letters, the Ah-ha moment triggered an idea. I’d present the dragon information in the form of letters, in particular, pen pal letters.

So letters became the structure of the text. For me, deciding how to present the nonfiction information in an interesting way is more difficult than the writing or the research. I love to write, and I love research, but figuring out the structure of the text is never an easy task

What is the hardest part of writing nonfiction for you?

Between May and September, Calls for Submissions for Young Writers will cease.

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:
Golden Fleece. For Short Stories, Poetry, Puzzles, Artwork, and Essays:
Please attach your submission to the email and include a short bio and any relevant social media links in the message. The subject line of your message should include the specific project you are pitching to, the title of your piece, and what it is. 
Submission guidelines at

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK. Check out her blog at