Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Debut Author Interviews- Learning From Those Who Have Succeeded

I just completed the last of my series of debut author interviews for 2012. I'd like to thank all the authors for sharing their journey with me.  

Sandra Feder, author of DAISY'S PERFECT WORD

Rob Sanders, author of COWBOY CHRISTMAS 
Nessa Morris, author of REACHING FOR RAINBOWS
Donna Earnhardt, author of BEING FRANK
Amy Dixon, author of MARATHON MOUSE
Karin LeFranc, author of A QUEST FOR GOOD MANNERS

         Goodnight, Goodnight Construction SiteMarathon MouseCowboy ChristmasDaisy's Perfect WordBeing FrankA Quest for Good MannersReaching for RainbowsThe Gingerbread Man Loose in the School
"Be true to yourself and your own story.  Write from your heart and your passion." ~Sherri Duskey Rinker

Since we are starting a new year, I thought it would be good to summarize the valuable tips I learned from them. Each of the authors shared great advice, unique to their experience, but they all agreed on the following:  
  1. Join SCBWI and attend an SCBWI conference
  2. Read books on how to write for children and books in your genre
  3. Research the market, publishing houses, and its editors before submitting

Join and Attend an SCBWI Conference

One of the great things about joining SCBWI is the community of writers who are very supportive, and the writing resources that are available.  As Karin LeFranc puts it, "Attending an SCBWI conference a wonderful way to learn the business, meet other writers, and find out what editors and agents are looking for."

The biggest benefit in attending a SCBWI conference is that editors and agents will accept submissions from conference attendees.  This is a good opportunity to submit to publishers who may be closed to submission.  

Sandra Feder says a face-to-face contact is the best way to get someone interested in your work.  Take it from Rob Sanders.  He met his editor, Diane Muldrow of Golden Book/Random House, at an SCBWI conference in Los Angeles. Diane requested he send his manuscript to her then offered him a contract. Sandra and Rob both agree that the best place to meet agents and editors in person are at conferences.  

If you want to get that one-on-one meeting, Rob suggests signing up for a critique or consultation.  If you're lucky, you will be paired up with an agent or editor who may be interested in your work.

"You'll never get published if you don't submit."  ~Donna Earnhardt

Read Books on How to Write for Children and Books in your Genre

There are lots of helpful resources on writing for children at the library and online.  If you study your craft, you will stand out from the slush pile. But the best way to learn how to write for children is to know and understand the readers.  Reading to children helped Laura Murray understand what children liked, what they found funny, what was too long or too wordy, and more. That helped her with her book Gingerbread Man loose in the School.  


Do not send out a mass submission to every publisher. Amy Dixon suggests recognizing the type of book you have and targeting your submission.  Study publishers before sending your manuscript to them. Research what genre they are publishing and the types of stories they are interested in.  Your manuscript will fare better if your manuscript fits the publisher's list. It worked for Sherri Duskey Rinker. Chronicle Books is the first and only publisher she submitted Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site to. She did her research, narrowed her list to one publisher, and hit the bulls-eye!    

Amy Dixon did her research too and got lucky. It so happened that the editor Amy submitted to has 3 kids who run marathons.  Her PB, Marathon Mouse, found its way to the perfect person.

If you want to get a hands-on approach on learning about the publishing industry, you can self-publish as Nessa Morris did. "What better way to learn about the whole process than doing it yourself," says Nessa.

All of these authors shared a unique experience.  But they all possess these valuable traits:
  • Patience
  • Hard work
  • Persistence
Take it from Donna Earnhardt, "You'll never get published if you don't submit." Donna received many rejections before her picture book, Being Frank, got published.

I hope you all took away something from these group of talented authors.  They were once unpublished like you.  Never give up hope. You will have your chance.  2013 could be the year!  
 "Be free to fail. Open yourself up to critique, to rejection.  don't be ruled by fear." ~Amy Dixon
Keep on writing, my friends!   


  1. Thanks for this roundup. Did you get any good specific recommendations for books on writi for children?

    1. Donna Earnhardt recommended:
      Self-editing for Fiction Writers (2nd edition) - Browne and King
      Plot and Structure - James Scott Bell
      The Emotion Thesaurus - Ackerman and Puglisi

      Rob Sanders recommends Lisa Wheeler's Picture Book Boot Camp

      If you are specifically interested in writing picture books, I recommend Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul and since you are an artist, I recommend Writing with Pictures by Uri Schulevitz.

  2. Awesome recap, Romelle! Thanks again for hosting me, it was a lot of fun!

    1. The pleasure was mine, Amy! Thanks for sharing your amazing experience!

  3. Great summary! I've really enjoyed the debut author interviews this year.



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