Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and reading resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Will Write For Chocolate


Archived WWFC strips


If you'd like to see older WWFC strips, please check the Will Write For Chocolate archives or start from the beginning. You can also follow WWFC on Facebook, Pinterest and Google+. Thanks so much for your continuing support! -- Debbie


Mimi Waits


Whoops -- accidentally posted this as the current comic when I moved it over from the old site. Let's see if I can move it AND its comments to the right date intact...

Why I just subscribed to Publisher’s Weekly

So I've decided to finally sign up for a Publisher's Weekly subscription. I've been resisting for a long time because of the hefty subscription fee (US$239.99 in the U.S., US$299.99 in Canada/Medico, US$399.99 for Int'l Air Delivery). I did try subscribing quite a few years ago, but I found that with regular mail delivery, issues arrived in Canada long after they were available in the U.S.

Now, however, everything can be accessed online. I just wish they offered a cheaper fee for a Web-only subscription.

Here's why I decided to subscribe:

- I got tired of not being able to see full articles.

- The articles are well-researched, so I can count on the accuracy of the information.

- I got tired of relying on second-hand info that referenced Publisher's Weekly. I figured: why not go the source? :-)

- Checking the bestseller lists (my main interest is children's books) on a regular basis gives me an idea of what's selling out there.

- Breaking publishing news. I like to know what editors are moving where, about new imprints, publisher closings.

- PW also publishes some great analytic pieces...taking all the stats and publishing news and summarizing it in terms of what the news means to the publishing industry overall.

- Tales From The Slushpile: a great comic by Ed Briant about the trials and tribulations of a children's book writer.

What about the rest of you? What other subscriptions or memberships have you found useful in your writing career? Please post them below.


Mimi Finishes Her Book


Author Web site spotlight: Shannon Hale

I recently received word that one of my novel manuscripts has gotten the ok from an editor, and has been passed up the chain. It's not an acceptance but it's a wee step closer, so I'm excited. Please do cross your fingers for me!

In my last column, I mentioned I was going to occasionally cover
author promotion tips, including how to promote yourself and your work through a Web site. In this column, we're going to look at
the Web site of Shannon Hale, the author of young adult fantasy The Goose Girl and other titles. I adored The Goose Girl when I read it recently, so was curious about checking out Shannon's other titles.

I could have done this through or other online book directories and stores, of course, but I'm also curious about whether an author has a Web site or not; you often get more of a glimpse into the author's personality and life that way than you would from a bare-bones book listing.

The Goose Girl - by Shannon Hale

From the main page alone, without clicking on any of the navigational links, you immediately know about one Shannon's recent projects as well as being able to read a snippet from her most recent blog entry. This site has the look of being frequently updated; I'm more likely to check back sooner than later.

Navigation is straightforward, with the FAQ and "Who Is Shannon" links prominently displayed at the bottom. The leftmost navigation bar looks as if it uses Flash. While it looks very cool, I've always been somewhat torn about the use of Flash...a 3rd party plug-in is required to view it (though most users do have the plug-in) and because many search engines (including Google) can't index Flash animation files. Flash-based pages are also somewhat harder to maintain.

However, use of other text on the page helps with the search engine limitation, and I had no trouble finding Shannon's Web site. The site also wisely offers the reader the option of text-based navigation links along the bottom of each page.

Exploring the site more closely reveals a wealth of interesting and useful information on this site, not just about Shannon and her books, but also about writing. Having this extra content is not only a boon to writers, but it also gets more attention from search engines and more people linking to this site. Someone may come across one of Shannon's articles about writing without knowing anything about her work, but then might get curious after reading the article, decide to explore the rest of the site. There's even a choose-your-own fantasy story!

The info about Shannon's books is also excellent. Take the page about The Goose Girl, for instance, which includes info about how the book got started, deleted material, the original Grimm tale, awards and reviews, discussion guides and exercises, book quizzes and how to buy the book. My only (very small) quibble would be that the page could have used a tad more colour, and would be the perfect place to post the gorgeous cover of The Goose Girl.

And now that I've perused Shannon's site, I'm dying to read her other books.


Mimi's Web Site


Good and bad author promotion

John Blossom has an interesting editorial on called Book Publishers Seek Out Fresh Inroads to Online-Driven Markets worth reading. "Book publishers are working hard to improve their online marketing channels for their titles, but ironically they receive the least help in many instances from the authors of those books. Most book author Web sites are weak marketing tools that are designed to do little to help build a reading community or book sales."

I don't agree with all his points, but I do agree that authors can use their Web sites to help promote their work, and that the degree of effectiveness varies widely depending on the Web site and how it's designed and used.

I covered some points several years ago in my author promotion column for, but technology has improved since then, as have opportunities for writers, so I figure some of these topics are worth covering again, as well as addressing new potential marketing tools that weren't available when I wrote that column, such as blogs.

I'll be posting some of these articles here as well as in Inkygirl, and you'll be able to access the posts in this series through a new category on Inkygirl; I'll post the URL when it's available.

And of course I'll be talking about how NOT to have an author Web site like Mimi's.


Looking for writing jobs on Craigslist: a caution

Apologies for the lack of update last week. Illness and work conspired to prevent a new strip.

This week's blog entry ties in with why I've decided to move the focus of Inkygirl away from regular job listings. Part of the reason is lack of time; I don't get paid to research the job boards, and I no longer comb them regularly for myself anymore since I have enough work without them. There are also plenty of blogs existing nowadays which already do a great job at posting job listings, like Deborah Ng's Freelance Job Listings blog.

But another reason is because I've been discouraged by the quality of jobs offered on Craigslist, which was one of my main source of freelance listings. Although Craiglist conveniently has a separately category of Writing/Editing Jobs for each city, I've found the pay to be low overall. Often pay isn't offered at all, but this isn't made clear in the listing.

Listings tend to be poorly written, riddled with grammatical errors and typos. Yes, this means that the company or individual needs writers...but it also reflects negatively on the reliability of the listing and the company.

I've also noticed a tendency of some companies to post their job listing in multiple city boards, sometimes ALL of them. As a result, they get inundated with applications and questions (especially if they pay anything), which helps explain why many don't bother replying to any of the applicants except for the one they want.

After compiling job listings for Inkygirl for a couple of years, I have some advice for those combing free online job boards like Craigslist:

- Only apply for those positions for which you are absolutely qualified. It'll be a waste of time otherwise, since chances are excellent that at least several people will be applying who WILL have all the qualifications.

- Avoid job boards that don't have a posting date for each listing. You'll have no idea of how long a listing has been online otherwise.

- The "telecommuting" option in the search engine of Craigslist is not reliable. Sometimes it picks up listings that specifically say "NO telecommuting" in the description. Sometimes it misses jobs that are telecommuting. Your best bet is to look for jobs that have potential and then read the listing details.

I'm going to be combing through my Job/market resource list in Inkygirl as well as other job listing sources and provide some updated, detailed reviews. If you have experience using any of the paid job listing resources for writers, I'd be very interested in hearing about it. Please send me e-mail or post below...thanks!

Mimi's First Line


Who's Laughing Now