Have you ever wanted to write a children's book?
Do you have the best idea for a picture book? Have you come up with a catchy title that would shine on the shelf of your local book store?
You are not alone.
I am embarking on that journey as you read this.
About 5 years ago, I had an idea for a book that I couldn't get out of my head. So I started writing. I finished my first draft and was pretty proud. Then I started researching the children's book publishing
I quickly found out if you were serious about publishing a children's book, there was only one association to join - The Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators #SCBWI. The mecca for all things #kidlit.
So, after I edited about 15 drafts and had a few people read it, I was ready to attend my first SCBWI conference in D.C. with manuscript in hand.
I was all ready to go. Paid extra for author critique and off I went.
From there I learned about:
More Conferences - 'Soooo many.'
Critique Groups - 'Oookay. Not sure I need those.'
Editors - 'Who comes first - editors, publishers, agents?'
Publishers - 'So cool - a publishing house!'
Agents - 'Do I need one of those? How do I get one?'
Master Classes - 'Maybe...'
Author critiques - 'Sure I'll pay extra for that!'
First page read alouds - '?'
32 pages; first 70 words - '??'
Self publishing vs traditional vs co-publishing vs ? - 'I want traditional.'
Psssh! I'm sorry... Come again?!
After the conference I had these takeaways:
My writing is the pits.
How does ANYONE get noticed?
And, therefore, how does anyone get published?
I am not in education or journalism... AND everyone else is... so, where does that leave my chances?
How does ANYONE get published?
This is impossible. I'm out. Pssh.
So, I mourned my "being a crappy writer and person" feelings and tabled my manuscript and author dream for a year. At the urging of my family and a few good friends plus a huge desire to share my story and experiences to children, I started again.
This time, I researched and reset my expectations. I realized the journey to become a traditionally published children's book author is a commitment that requires persistence, persistence, thick skin and more persistence.
So, what I've learned nearly 4 years later...
Conferences - 'Yep, in small doses they are so helpful.'
Critique Groups - 'Lifesaving! I am a better writer and author because of mine.'
Editors - 'Work with publishing houses but can also hire separately and they can also request manuscripts... still kind of confused about this one.'
Publishers - 'So cool - a publishing house! Unsolicited is my friend until I get an agent. LONG lists of when they open and close to submissions.'
Agents - 'Need one to get into most publishing houses... but not all of them. I think they are valuable and I will start querying them soon.'
Master Classes - 'Yep - done a few.'
Author critiques - 'Yep - done a few. Kind of helpful - if you know how to frame what you want out of it.'
First page read alouds - 'Not for picture books.'
32 pages; first 70 words - 'For picture books - know the structure and hook.'
Self publishing vs traditional vs co-publishing vs ? - 'I still want traditional.'
Welcome to the sharing of my author journey. (Let's hope it works out...)
I hope I can help to inspire or encourage others who have ideas that deserve to be a shelf in a bookstore one day. With persistence, dedication and time - we can do it!!