Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 25, 2020

Make it Personal: Making Personal Connections by Mira Reisberg

Most writers do best when they make personal connections to whatever it is they are writing about whether it’s fiction, concept books, nonfiction or work for hire. Whenever you can draw from your personal life or history, it adds layers of authenticity, making your work so much more believable, emotional, and immediate. It also often makes it much more relatable to others, especially if your work involves issues of identity or universal themes like jealousy, insecurities, being scared of going to school, wanting a friend or a pet and so on. Even if you are doing work for hire where you’ve been given a topic to write about and research, whenever you can find some kind of parallel thread in your own life, or some kind of emotional connection to the work, it is going to be so much easier to write and read.

At the same time, whenever you are writing, whether it directly relates to or from your life in some way, and you’ve done the research and craft work to make it the very best it can be, your next step is submitting it and that’s where making personal connections with editors and agents comes in really handy. Much-loved multi-published former student Lynn Marie and I spent some time yesterday making a special mini course for the upcoming interactive  onlinepicture books writing about Strategic Researching, Writing, and Submitting Manuscripts. And one of the things that we didn’t talk about and should have is the importance of making personal connections (don’t worry, I’ll add this).

Up until recently, one of the best ways to do this was through conferences. Unfortunately conferences are mostly on hold for now until things get radically better with the pandemic affecting us all. Fortunately, we now have wonderful resources, such as the Children’s Book Academy,, Kid Lit TV, this blog, Tara Lazar’s blog, and so many others to learn from and make connections. There are also lots of virtual ways of making connections via social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Editors and agents seem a bit less open and available on Facebook than they seem to be on Twitter and Instagram but not everyone. The key is to be warm, responsive and non stalker-ish or sycophant acting. There are scary people out there in all fields so that can be a bit off putting. I’ve been on the receiving end of one or two of them. In fact you don’t even need to necessarily directly connect with them at all, but you can learn a tremendous amount about their interests that way. For example anyone who follows me, especially on Facebook, probably has noticed that I have and love cats. And right now, I’m currently in the process of narrowing down scholarship winners for the upcoming course.

As part of the process, we ask people to tell us something interesting or quirky about themselves. One applicant said something quirky or strange about themselves was that they really hated cats. Needless to say that although this would definitely not knock them out of the running, it didn’t exactly endear them to me. My agent co-teacher for the class, Allison Remcheck and I were making a video about query/cover letters and she mentioned that she really appreciates it when someone says they’ve been following her on Twitter because it makes them look more professional that they are researching and not just submitting willy-nilly. I imagine there’s some little bio-chemical response that lights up our brains when we make connections, possibly releasing some kind of serotonins or endorphins and these kinds of feelings of connection and well-being definitely affect our judgments and responses.

Publishing, like most businesses, is about making connections and the lines between business and personal can overlap. If you follow an editor or agent online and you read that someone at a press or literary agency that you love loves pot-bellied pigs and you just happen to have a wonderful book about pot-bellied pigs with a really innovative plot plus a universal theme, plus layers connecting with other interests of that particular person, such as the environment, or girl-power, or diversity, or chocolate fudge cake, see if you can find a way to connect with them online or if they are participating in any Twitter parties, or online courses, or if they are open to unsolicited submissions – go for it.

I hope something here has resonated for you inspiring you to make those connections both in your work and in your submission process. Remember that agents and editors are people with interests, agendas, sensitivities, limits and a desire for connection too. Just don’t overdo it.

Finally, speaking of connections, I am also delighted to announce who the 12th editor or agent is participating in the Children’s Book Academy’s skip-the-slush-pile Golden Tickets looking at every student’s pitch and bio submission… Drumroll… it’s editor Taylor Norman from Chronicle Books.

Check Taylor and all the other editors and agent Golden Tickets out on Twitter. They are all wonderful! To find out more, visit,  Also heads up, due to the general chaos, we are extending the $100.00 off discounts with the 2020PBLove code until March 29th!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thanks for the reminder about resources and the encouragement to be personal, and personable! I enjoyed reading your post.


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