Wednesday, September 22, 2010

literary agents and publishers

Are you seeking a literary agent or publisher? Here are a few free websites that may help. There are many others but these are among my favorites.


1. Guide to Literary Agents. You can subscribe at:
Every day or two they e-mail you free information about agents.

2. Agent Query. You can subscribe at Wide range
of resources here.

3. Preditors and Editors. You can visit at Their aim is
to help authors evaluate publishers, publishing services, agents, etc. This
includes  alerting people to individuals and organizations that might be
problematic to deal with.

4. Absolute Write. You can visit or join at Provides author help of various kinds
including a forum discussing literary agents and authors' experiences with

5. List of literary agents in Canada [courtesy of The Writers Union of

6. Directory of publishers and literary agents in Canada

Friday, September 3, 2010

researching & writing factual books & articles

I've researched and written a number of factual books and articles. There are many "right" ways to do this. Here's the general plan I follow for a factual book aimed at children.

1. Say the topic is sharks. I go to the Internet and discover all I can about sharks. I don't print everything out—only things that look particularly useful and reliable. If a website doesn't have much useful content, I just make handwritten notes.

2. I go to the library and look for children's books on sharks. (Whether I'm writing for children or adults, I always go to children's books first because they give the basics in a way that's easily grasped.) Then I look at encyclopedias, then books intended for adults. I may not find an adult book devoted entirely to sharks, but may find some on inclusive topics such as fish, fishing, and marine biology. I also look at the library's vertical files (which contain magazine articles and other non-book sources).

3. I take out of the library any relevant materials that I can. In the case of materials that may not be taken out, I make notes and/or photocopy useful pages.

4. When I get home, I make a pot of tea and take stock of what I have. On any pages I've printed out or photocopied, I use a color coding system to highlight information on the various subtopics I plan to write about; for example, the appearance of sharks, where sharks live, what sharks eat, their lifecycle, different types of sharks, human interaction with sharks. I use crayons for color coding because there are more colors and they don't run dry like felt pens. Also crayons aren't smelly like felt pens.

5. For materials that I can't write in, for example, books from the library, I make notes either on the computer or by hand. Many of these notes consist simply of page numbers relating to the various subtopics. For example, I may note that pages 33-45 of the book Large Fish of the Atlantic gives useful information on human interaction with sharks. I color code these notes in the same way as I did the other information.

6. Once I finish all my color coding, I sort my papers according to color. Some have several colors on them. I put these in a pile designated multi-informational sources.

7. Then I start to write the book based on the information I've gathered. As I write I find I need further information here and there. I look for this on the Internet or at the library, or by sending e-mail queries to addresses given on websites, or by phoning relevant people, etc.

8. Once I have a draft I'm fairly happy with, I find suitable experts to read it. When I get feedback from them, I revise accordingly. Then I often run it past them again, just to make sure I have it right.