There are many, many people who'd like to be published and I think I have a greater insight into this vast pool of keen people than most. I meet writers everywhere who are as yet unpublished and who are so desperate to find themselves in print that they willingly pay someone who purports to know how it is done. I have had letters attached to quite unpublishable manuscripts telling me that the manuscript has undergone a thorough assessment and the writer has been told that its now very, very publishable. I have seen one so-called 'reputable' assessment site that claims a letter from them will guarantee the writer's manuscript will go straight to the top of the unsolicited pile. For a fee of some hundreds of dollars they can have just such a letter. That is of course on top of the hundreds of dollars they will first pay for the assessment.
I have begun to feel very upset at this quite unprofessional practice.
Unpublished writers are a very vulnerable group and their vulnerability is preyed upon by these self-proclaimed authorities. I find it despicable and even sad. So many are taken in. So much money is changing hands with no perceptible results. I'd like to encourage all the would-be writers out there to NOT use services like these. Join your local writers' centre where at least you can be sure the workshops will be run by men and women who are indeed professionals. Where the charge for training will be minimal; where you can join like-minded others and find strength in the group and the encouragement you need. Attend local writing festivals - there are many of these. Read as much as you can. Spend time in libraries or bookshops talking to librarians or owners who can help you to recognise the reputable children's publishers in Australia. Seek out the sort of books they publish. See if your work is similar. Polish your writing like the precious thing it is until you can truly do no more. Make sure there are no spelling errors, no repeated lines, no unwanted bits you accidentally left in when you deleted something. Then send it to the publisher of your choice and cross your fingers.
Here are my writing tips for the month.
A story is not necessarily a picture book.
A list of things that happened is unlikely to make a good picture book.
A family event is unlikely to make a good picture book.
A great picture book writer leaves out a lot. The illustrator fills in those gaps.
Illustrators don't like to be told what to draw.
Read the guidelines for the way a publisher wants to get work from you and do what they say.