Sunday, February 28, 2010

3 Obstacles to Writing a Children's Book

Watching the Olympics each night, seeing the human interest stories about the athletes; hardships, training schedules, and hard work, has had the effect it was supposed to have. They have inspired me. Although I have been diligently reading and reviewing books, I have not really worked on my own children's books for quite awhile. It's time to pick up my pen and begin writing again. Now I just have to steel myself for the three things that can put a damper on anyone's writing: rejection, time, and money.

1. Rejection.
Theodor Seuss Geisel's first children's book, "And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street," was rejected 27 times before being published by Vanguard Press. When you see 100 Rejections groups forming at SCBWI conferences and on social media outlets, 27 rejections doesn't seem like many. However, it should be noted that Dr. Seuss was already an established and successful writer, regularly contributing to Life and Vanity Fair. He had also been a cartoonist for The Saturday Evening Post and animated US Army training films with director, Frank Capra. Even with his success he had to endure rejection as a children's book writer. Thankfully it didn't stop him. We can all learn a lesson from Dr. Seuss and all the Olympians who didn't give up on their dream. We can succeed. I, for one, am nowhere near 100 rejections. Heck, I havn't even reached 27... yet.

2. Time.
Writing a children's book takes time. Aside from the actual character development, outlining, and writing, there is rewriting (numerous times) and editing. Then more rewriting, second guessing, third guessing and... did I say rewriting?

Then take your manuscript to small group critiques and see what other writers have to constructively offer. At this point you may have to pull upon your ability to handle rejection. Then, of course, edit some more.

Now its time to research publishers and their catalogs until four or five (or more) appear to be a good fit for your story. I have a list of about 20. Write a letter and mail your maniscipt off to one at a time. Most publishers do not accept simultaneous submitions. Then wait. One month, two months, three months... sometimes six months for your first rejection letter. This could go on 100 times or more. Of course you could also get a little lucky and receive an acceptane letter. But don't hold your breath - it could take some time.

By the way, you're supposed to do all this time consuming writing, mailing and organizing during whatever free time you have from the work you do for a living. It is a time consuming dream, but well worth it.

3. Money.
Writing a book doesn't pay anything - publishing one does. First you must write a book though, and it takes time. Benjamin Franklin said, "Time is money," but without time you can't write a book and make money. Of course, you need money to allow yourself some free time to write a book. Then there are the expenses of purchasing the Writer's Guide, paper, ink, envelopes, stamps, conferences, etc.

The real costs arise if you decide to self-publish. You pay for your own printing, advertising, an illustrator, and if you are smart, an editor. You must also purchase an ISBN number or no book store will carry you. Then you have to spend a great deal of time going from book store to book store promoting your book. Head to schools for readings, purchase booth space at book conferences, festivals and events, and convince local bookstores and retailers to carry your book. Don't forget your lesson in rejection. Did I mention this all takes time. And what did Benjamin Franklin say?

Okay one thing at a time. I'll begin by sitting down to work on my stories and write something... anything. Maybe I'll even post an excerpt from one of my books next week and get some feedback. Until then, keep your head up and reach for your dreams.

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