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How to Reel in a Children's Book Editor with Author Margot Finke

If you want to reel in an editor, think fishing strategy.

  • Know where the editor fish swim.
  • Prepare the appropriate bait.
  • Assemble a variety of hooks.
  • Practice spreading ‘chum.'
  • Make sure your line is strong.
  • Hook the editor fish early.
  • Play the line out -- craftiness counts.
  • Land your editor fish -- (don't let him/her get away at the last moment)


Your First Paragraph: This is your chance to hook the ‘editor fish' early.

If a few sentences of instant appeal do not come to mind, leave your first paragraph until later. Rummage for the distinctive words you need when your story is finished, and your plot and characters are as familiar as the taste of your favorite food. Think dramatic moment, wild humor, or even angst ridden inner turmoil. Consider making your first paragraph a splendid link into the heart of your main character, or perhaps, a powerful hint about future actions.


Your First Page: Fling in some morsels of chum, and bait a small hook.

What is chum? For big game fishermen, chum is bloody fish entrails, red meat, and other offal. This is thrown into the water to bring sharks and large fish closer to their boat. Get it? For writers, chum becomes the clues, hints, innuendo, characters, gossip, and whatever else we use to draw in readers. Make your first page a reading frenzy. Include the time, the place, and the names of your main characters. Now, plan something dramatic, significant or funny, for your second page. Then, in the last paragraph on your first page, leave a clue to whatever is about to happen. This is your hook, baited, and ready to lure the editor into turning the page.


Trawl Chum on Every Page: This is where you play out your line, use different hooks, and try assorted bait.

The chum you scatter throughout your chapters depends on the type of story you are writing. The basic idea, is what you write on one page should lure readers into reading what you've written on the following page. Not only that, you must have characters kids will root for, and a plot that keeps reader interest to the last page. Flabby writing will get you eaten by an editor shark!

The Mystery/Adventure:

The style of your hook depends on the type of book you are writing. A mystery or an adventure demands a strong and dramatic hook at the end of each chapter -- your main character faces disaster, is about to make a vital choice, or is on the brink of peril. Devising hooks for the end of your chapters has a lot to do with pacing. You must plan ahead. An end-of-chapter hook is always the moment before something physically or emotionally earth shattering happens. If your readers want to know the outcome, they must read on.


Keep the tension at a heart-pounding level, by regularly offering snippets of pertinent information, hints and clues. These are the small hooks you must keep baited throughout your chapters. Your readers don't want to be told about what happens. They want to be a part of the story: to see, feel, and hear the action as it happens. Splash around the dialogue: it is a wonderful tool for defining characters and setting a pace that crackles.


Emotional or Fun Stories:

Poignant stories also need end-of-chapter hooks. A tale about school and bullies, the story of a dying parent or friend, a funny romp at a holiday camp: these books all need lots of the right bait, on the right sized hooks, to reel in an editor. Ending your chapters with a question, a fear, a dread, or moment of panic, works extremely well. Readers identify with these emotions, and they hate for them to go unanswered. If the chapter that follows your hook provides satisfactory answers, your reader will keep reading. As the author, you make a tacit agreement with your reader to provide a satisfying.


Your Last Chapter -- You Must Deliver! -- you get to land the editor-fish.

You've made it thus far -- DON'T BLOW IT. Tie up those loose ends ASAP - unresolved loose ends will allow the editor fish to escape. Check that your solution or ending is logical, and based on the main areas of the plot. Is that last minute confession too bizarre to be reasonable? Would your heroine really decide to settle a dispute that way?


Final Note:

If your grammar or punctuation is not what it should be, now is the time to enlist help. Have your trusted critique members check out your manuscript for G and P errors.


Invest in the CWIM (Children’s Writers and Illustrator’s Market.). This will make sure you only apply to legitimate publishers.  Research well, so that the publishers you choose are right for your book.  Check out their current list of books.  Is your book a good fit?  Look at the Submission Guidelines on their website.  This will tell you if they are accepting MS at the moment and exactly what they want from you. Polish your Query writing skills.  Have your critique group look it over – no shame in that


Oh, and for goodness sake spell the editor’s name correctly. They shred manuscripts for this infraction.



Margot Finke is an Aussie transplant who writes midgrade adventure fiction and rhyming picture books. Margot didn't begin serious writing until the day their youngest left for college. This late start drives her writing, and pushes her to work at it every day. Margot said, "I really envy those who began young, and managed to slip into writing mode between kid fights, diaper changes, household disasters, and outside jobs. You are my heroes!"


Her first books, a 7x book rhyming series, "Wild and Wonderful," offers fun facts about animals from the US and Australia. Educational and fun, eBooks can be read on a computer, laptop, or various color e-Readers. They are great for classroom or home schooling moms.


Remember, kids today are computer savvy, and ALL 11 of Margot’s books (both hard copy and eBooks) can be viewed on Margot’ Magic Carpet.  The latest three are: Taconi and Claude – Double Trouble (midgrade), Horatio Humble Beats the Big D + Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind.

Visit her DOWN-UNDER FUN or WILD US CRITTERS:  to discover extra fun facts about the animals in her books. 


Stories for Children Publishing will be touring author Margot Finke’s children’s books, Taconi and Claude – Double Trouble” a historical middle-grade adventure, “Horatio Humble Beats the Big D” a rhyming picture book about dyslexia, and “Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind” a rhyming picture book about change; all month long in June 2011.


You can find out more about Margot Finke’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at . There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Margot Finke and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions. Margot Finke will be checking in throughout the tour and is offering an additional giveaway for those who leave comments throughout the tour.


In addition, come listen to Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children at Hosts VS Grenier, Kris Quinn Chirstopherson and Irene Roth chatted with Margot Finke about her books, writing, the publishing industry and experiences with virtual tours. Margot will also be sharing writing tips and trials, and tribulations of the writer’s life.


To find this post and others like it, visit The World of Ink Network at

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Comment by Margot Finke on June 25, 2011 at 2:06pm

Thanks so much for your kind words, mate.  They are much appreciated.

Margot’s Magic Carpet
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