Peg366's Blog

Simon and Schuster’s Handbook for Writers

Posted on: November 1, 2009

me another close upIt is no secret that a newbie writer has to make some decision about what resource books they buy. Money is often limited. That is why this find was such an unexpected pleasure. I got it this last year for a $1.00 at my local library. While this edition  of Simon and Schuster’s Handbook for Writers CD Rom-Interactive by Lynn Quitman Troyka is from 1999, the content is still quite relevant.

When reading about writing, one tip was offered that I felt was particularly important for a writer to know. Simon and Schuster’s book offers this checklist: (Paraphrased by me.)

Know who your audience is.

Know their ages and genders. Know what ethnic backgrounds. Know their hobbies and interests. Know what they want to read. Then, target your book toward these factors. 

Ten years later, this checklist is just as pertinent to a book’s success.

Steven Meltzer, Associate Publisher/Executive Managing Editor of Dutton and Dial covered it in his Iowa SCBWI conference presentation during “the first sentence” exercise. He asked conference writers to first write down a first sentence that would hook the reader. Then he asked various participants  to tell him what makes their book appealing to their readers. He asked them to tell a little about why a reader would want to read their book.

He was talking about marketing specifically but in truth marketing starts as soon  as an idea is written down. A pb writers knows that there is a difference between what a three-year old likes and what a seven-year old does and takes those factors into consideration when they develop their book’s plot. A mg writer knows what kids that age are interested in reading.

The take-away from this is that while some books might not have been published recently, the value they offer a new writer is very relevant to developing a great career. Being a succesful writer means doing one’s research.


2 Responses to "Simon and Schuster’s Handbook for Writers"

what is the best way to find an agent and is it okay to submit a manual without one


First I should say I don’t have an agent but have been listening to what my friends and fellow writers are saying about theirs. I’ve joined chats with editors just to soak in the knowledge. *I found their chats via Twitter. Recently, I attended a SCBWI conference and discovered that most conferences try to include an agent.

First, I would need to know more about what you write. Do you write for magazines or books? Are you a picture book author? MG? YA? What genre do you write? It makes a difference in regards to whether you need an agent or not at the beginning of your writing career. Most pictrure book authors don’t use an agent. It is a much more common practice for authors writing Mg and YA books to have an agent because many major publishing houses often prefer that the author have an agent.

According to Stephen Barbara, Literary Agent at the the Foundry of New York who presented at the Iowa SCBWI conference an author needs to do their research to make sure that they and the agent they are thinking about signing with are a good fit.

You can start by getting a list of literary agents. Some sites to check out are Agent Query, Association of Author Representatiives and Preditors and Editors. I will be submitting a blog post on more details about finding an agent this next week.

I hope this helps.


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I am an aspiring picturebook writer with some magazine credits just no picture book contract yet. I know it is coming and I am more than willing to work for it.

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July 2009

November 2009
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My Favorites:

I love the children's movies Wizard of Oz and the Neverending Story. Both movies make me feel the lesson that hope is alive and well. After seeing UP this past week, it just might have a chance at being added to this list.

I love the cool colors of blues and purples.Those colors are peaceful for me.

I love The Velveteen Rabbit. Even as an adult, I still feel the urge to cry when he becomes real. I know, silly, but a good book can make me laugh and cry as it takes me on a magical journey.

Authors and Illustrators:

Authors, Author/Illustrator, Illustrators that I know and/or Like.


C= Children

MG= Mid Grade

T= Teen

YA= Young Adult

A= Adult


Bonnie Adamson *

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Natalie Babbit

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Jan and Stan Berenstain

Judy Blume

Tracey M. Cox

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Jan Brett

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Eric Carle

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Jan Fields *

Denise Fleming

Mem Fox

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Amy Heist

Kevin Henkes

Ellen Jackson *

Jeff Kinney

Jackie French Koller

Ursula K. LeGuin

Leo Lionni

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Mercer Mayer

Robert Munsch

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Dav Pilkey

Patricia Polacco

Peggy Rathmann

Bethany Roberts

David Shannon

Aaron Shepard

Donna J. Shepherd *

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Jerry Spinelli

Diane Stanley

Chris Van Allsburg

Rick Walton *

Lisa Wheeler

Mo Willems

Karma Wilson *

Audrey Woods

Jane Yolen *

Favorite Websites:

Favorite Blogs:

• ShelfTalker: A Children’s Bookseller’s Blog
• Alice’s CWIM Blog
• A Fuse #8 Production
• Cynsations
• Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent
• Editorial Anonymous
• Miss Snark’s First Victim
• Writing for children and teens

Favorite Quotes.

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