Monday, November 9, 2009

The Importance of Community and Research

I have a sister who has written 3 tween girl books. She recently sent me a contract she received from an agency for my review. In researching this agency it was not hard to uncover that it is a fee based scam sort of operation. I would love for my sis to have a real opportunity to get some healthy and professional critique on her writing. Unfortunately my rolodex is a little thin on literary industry folks. What's the best way to obtain information on reputable children's/ tween freelance editors that I could hire to work with her?
She should join the SCBWI to start with-- that will put her in contact with a whole community of people whom she can ask for advice. My readers may have suggestions in the comments, too.


Anonymous said...

I'm so happy you figured out that the contract she was offered was a scam before she signed anything.

Also, there is a site called Preditors and Editors that keeps track of scam agents and you'll want to be aware of that, too.

As for your question, she'd be better to find a critique group and get feedback by submitting pages to them and also offering her own critiques. If she joins her local chapter of SCBWI she might able to find a critique group through them.

Other writers can point out tons and tons of stuff that may be lacking and for many it is a less exprensive solution than tossing a ms at a professional and saying, here, fix this.

Good luck!

Wordy Bird said...

I agree, SCBWI, but also check out:

Book Editing Associates
Recommended on Preditors & Editors site (always check this site!!!) and you'll find editors who specialize in each genre. Many of them are also published authors and all have published editing projects to their credit.

Good luck!

Fleur said...

Joining SCBWI or any writers organization will probably put her in touch with writers groups too. They're hit or miss--sometimes a group is terrible, and sometimes it's just the feedback you need. Plus, critique groups are free, or close to it, and offer encouragement too.

Again: hit or miss, but a good place to start, maybe.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Children's Writers and Illustrator's Market is also a good resource... it's available at most bookstores and libraries!

I'd also recommend "The Blue Boards" and articles at --- The discussion boards over there are full of nice people who are incredibly generous and willing to help! Not to mention, it's a great place to stumble across exciting new authors so that your "to-read" list can grow! :)

DeadlyAccurate said...

She should join Absolute Write.

In light of this question, the wordver: rates, made me laugh.

Josin L. McQuein said...

Anytime she gets the name of a publisher or agent, check them through Preditors and Editors or go to a site like Absolute Write and search their Bewares and Background checks. That way she'll be able to see their reputation.

A board like AW also has a beta reading area to find someone to read a full manuscript or places where chapters can be posted for wider critique.

Or the short way to see if someone's legit:

Google [name of person/publisher] + SCAM and see if anything comes up

Karen Schwabach said...

Starting out, I actually got a lot of the useful feedback that I needed from non-form rejections from agents and editors. Agents and editors may hate to hear that, but it's true.

The thing is to never, ever query anybody without first checking them out at


You'll find most of the fee-chargers and other baddies listed there, though they change names so often it can be hard to keep up with them. Legitimate businesses are also listed, so if you don't find a business listed at all, be suspicious that it's a recent name-change.

There are people who will critique for money, but two things you want to watch out for when selecting someone:

1. Does this person actually have a background in editing with a legitimate publishing company?

2. Do they guarantee to say only good things about the manuscript? There seem to be a rising number of companies providing this "service", which might be good for a writer's ego but isn't going to help her improve her writing.

A good writing class and a good critique group may be better investments than a critiquing service-- especially since the latter is free.

You'll also find good discussions on these topics on the forums (fora?) at

Anonymous said...

I direct all newbies (and even some oldies) to the Absolute Write Water Cooler and the Blueboard. Both are free, and both provide a wealth of information. She's less likely to be scammed if she reads through the publisher/agent information at these sites (particularly the Bewares and Backgrounds section at AW).

And yes, she should join the SCBWI. I'm anxiously awaiting the new Bulletin. :)

Marissa Doyle said...

Ditto to the Blueboards (officially called the "Children's Writers and Illustrators Message Board"). Tons of information on the industry, info on critique groups, and the nicest, most supportive community of people in the writing world.

jeanne said...

Considering EA's recent post on author's dreams and how editors are crushing them, it's no wonder that these kinds of scam agents have no shortage of victims.

Deb Salisbury, Magic Seeker and Mantua-Maker said...

Join QueryTracker at - it's free! They have a long list of agents, plus links to information about each agent. And you can track your queries in their database.

I highly recommend this site.

ae said...

The Blue Boards. :)

Word Verification: Makebri...add an e and you've got cheese. Cook it in a crust and you've got company.

CJ Omololu said...

I agree - Verla Kay's Blueboards can't be beat for kidlit info and conversation. A few hours (or days) spent reading old threads are worth more than an MFA IMHO.

Anonymous said...

The real advice you should give her is that it should be SHE who is doing this kind of research, not you! If she's gonna sell books, she's gotta know the biz.

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