Online Writing Workshops FAQ

Have your children’s book manuscript critiqued by a developmental editor.

The author of 245 books for children, teens and adults, I have been working as a developmental editor since 1999. According to Wikipedia, a developmental editor works with writers in two ways.

  1. Some developmental editors coach writers before the manuscript is submitted.
  2. Some developmental editors coach writers as they revise after the manuscript is submitted.

Over the years I have worked both ways as a developmental editor. I find it very satisfying to help writers “find the story inside their story.” You know your story best. My job is to help you see what you already have – in your imagination and on the page.

I mentor picture book writers:

Step 1. Write and revise your picture book story in a month in the Intensive Picture Book Workshop.

Step 2. Work on your second and third revisions (of the same story) in the Picture Book WIP Critique. (WIP is Work-In-Progress.)

Step 3. Did you write a rhyming picture book story? After your story has been revised in the Intensive Picture Book Workshop, fine-tune the meter in the Rhyming Picture Book Workshop.

I also mentor chapter book and middle grade novelists.

Step 1. Develop a working outline of your children’s novel and the first draft of that all-important first chapter in the Children’s Novel Workshop.

Step 2. After you complete chapter one, we can work together month by month as you write the chapters of your book with the New Children’s Novel: WIP Chapter Critique.

Step 3. When you have completed the first draft of your entire novel, you can send it in for a New Children’s Novel: Full Novel Critique.

Q. Why do I need to find 3 book comps for the workshops?
A. Editors compare your book to other books like yours as a standard part of the acquisitions process at many publishing houses. So we start with your 3 book comps to make sure your book is unique in some way. (If your book is not unique in some way, why will anyone buy it?)

Q. What happens in an online workshop?
A. Unlike the traditional classroom, we do not meet face to face for an online workshop. There are no “hours.” We won’t have any scheduled meetings, so it doesn’t matter what your time zone is or which continent you live on! (Over the years I’ve worked with writers on six continents.) We will work together one-on-one via email.

Q. When will you send me the lessons?
A. I will email you a new workshop lesson on Monday and Thursday. Homework sent on Monday will be due on Thursday. Homework sent on Thursday will be due the following Monday.

Q. How long do I have to complete the lessons?
A. You have 4 weeks to complete the 8 workshop lessons.

Q. Can I work at a faster pace?
A. Yes. If you want to work at a faster pace, just send in each lesson as you complete it. After you complete each lesson, I will send you a new one.

Q. How do I send you my homework?
A. Just click reply to email me your homework.

  1. You can copy and paste your lesson into the body of the email and click reply to send it back to me. I will reply to your lesson via email.
  2. If you prefer to work in a document, please email me to let me know your homework is in our shared Dropbox folder so I can reply using the Track Changes function in Word.

Q. When will you reply to my homework?
A. I write my own books first thing in the morning, then work at my day job writing and editing books and curriculum. I work one-on-one with individual writers in the late afternoon and early evening Monday through Friday.

Q. Will you recommend a publisher for my book?
A. No. There are three steps to becoming a published author.

  1. Write the book.
  2. Edit the book.
  3. Sell the book.

A critique is for the second step only. When you begin working with me in the Intensive Picture Book Workshop or the Children’s Novel Workshop, I will ask you to describe your book’s topic and theme. These descriptions can help you when you send the book out, but knowing who is buying what right now is a full-time job. The person who sells books to a publisher is a literary agent.

Q. I am illustrating my own book. Will you critique the art for my picture book?
A. A picture book is a story told with pictures. Readers want to see a different picture each time they turn the page. How will you balance the words and the art? For your picture book “outline” I want to see a storyboard. You will divide your manuscript into “book pages” and make notes about the art you “see” in the words on each page. I will critique your storyboard and give you feedback so you can rewrite. Every student makes a storyboard, so it’s not about how you draw or paint, but how the art you envision for each page helps move the story forward. I will not critique any art that you create. What I critique is the storyboard for the art and the text. My goal is to help you decide what needs to go in the art and what needs to go in the text.

Q. How long can the manuscript be? Is there a page limit?
A. How long your book needs to be depends on the age of the reader. (See the word count guides at Literaticat, Guide to Literary Agents, and Literary Rambles.) All manuscripts must be typed and doubled-spaced in a size 12 Times New Roman font. (If you have Word 2010 use these default font instructions.) For these critiques, there is a 1,000 word limit for picture books and a 1 chapter limit for novels. Please be advised that what I often find in early drafts is two chapters in one. If the chapter you’ve sent is really 2 chapters, I will only critique the chapter in the beginning of your draft. We will save the rest for another session.

Q. Will you give me a partial refund if I can’t finish all of the work before the deadline?
A. No. If you sign up for a workshop or a critique and need to cancel before we begin, please be advised that I charge a $20 handling fee for cancellations. After the session begins, fees are NOT REFUNDABLE. It’s not easy “see the bones” of a book so you can figure out how to write your own, but you can do it. Don’t let fear get in the way. Set a timer for 25 minutes and start working. Push fear aside and get it done.

My writing students come from all levels of the continuum, from beginner to advanced. Some students sold the books they wrote in the workshops or edited during the critiques while others continued to master their craft and sold their first book later. Are you ready to work with a writing mentor? Are you looking for a writing class to help you start your book or take your work to the next level? Sign up for a workshop or a critique so we can start working together!

Still have questions? Email me.

Copyright © 2015 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.