Carrol from the San Francisco Bay Area wrote with the following question:
"I'm a student of yours from a few years back. I just finished writing my first children's picture book. I would love your help getting it edited. Can you a) meet me for coffee and/or b)refer me to a friend in the children's book area?"
To be effective, an independent editor in charge of helping you develop and/or refine your work before its submission to agents and publishers should be extremely aware of the current market regarding the genre of your book. That way he or she can help you shape your story to make the most of what your book has to offer in today's publishing world.
While I read about the publishing industry daily to learn what's selling in adult fiction and nonfiction, children's picture books are far enough outside that realm. Therefore I told Carrol she'd be better served to find someone who specialized in children's literature.
I asked her to give me a few days to collect some helpful leads, and lo and behold, within an hour I received an email update from a fellow wordsmith who happens to be a children's literature writer and a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
When asked, she suggested the following writing professionals based on those she's met in person:
• Summer Dawn Laurie: Her web listing on JacketFlap states she's an independent editor who worked in children's publishing for 10 years, first at Chronicle Books for Children, then at Tricycle Press, the kid's division of Ten Speed Press. The listing states she's edited more than 50 published books ranging from board books to picture books as well as middle-grade novels and nonfiction.
My writer friend said about Ms. Laurie:
She provided an individual 30 minute consultation and critique of 20 pages of my project during a conference. I found her to be very helpful, offering feedback, insights and suggestions about the further development of my project
• Nancy Lamb: A freelance editor, Ms. Lamb is the author of The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children as well as The Art and Craft of Storytelling. Her writing credentials list over a dozen published children's books, many of them through Simon & Schuster.
My writer friend said of Ms. Lamb:
I was in two small-group, highly individualized critique/feedback meetings which she led. I found her to be very knowledgeable and believe that she would be very thorough in her feedback.
• Martha Alderson: A plot consultant, Ms. Alderson is the author of Blockbuster Plots, Pure & Simple.
My writer friend said of Ms. Alderson:
Martha Alderson is a plot consultant, but I also found her to be knowledgeable about character development and theme. I was in two small-group, highly individualized workshops on scene tracking and plot planning. I found her to be very easy to understand. She simplified what had seemed complex about the structure of a book.
I also found an eHow article by K.E. Solis titled How to Find a Freelance Editor to Critique a Children's Manuscript, which is loaded with great advice, the first step being to join SCBWI.
Thanks to Carrol for the question and to our dedicated children's literature writer for the recommendations.