Thursday, April 21, 2011

Getting Started

Recently my daughter and I took a trip to the Indianapolis Children's Museum (go if you can, it's a great place). In the midst of the excitement, noise, and exhibits, I heard someone call my name.

"Katie? Is that you? Do you remember me?"

I turned around and there was Lori B., a college friend from IUSB. Of course I remembered her! Although we hadn't seen each other in years, we quickly caught up and realized there were some eerie similarities in our lives.

Once we discussed our current jobs, Lori asked me a question that I think lots of writers get asked (I know I get this question a lot)... How did you get started writing? I sent her a detailed email with how I got started, but here's a shorter synopsis for anyone truly interested in writing for children.

Take a class or two. I'm not going to post the name of the class I took, because I'm not sure I would recommend it. The class worked for me, but I can see how it might not work for everyone. Knowing what I know now (7 years since I started writing full time) I would probably take a class from the Institute of Children's Literature. Everyone I personally know that has taken a class with them has been happy with it.

Join organizations. I recommend the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. SCBWI has great information available to authors and illustrators. They have a helpful website, offer support and grants, and put on wonderful conferences, among other things.

Attend conferences. Immerse yourself in what you want to do. Attend conferences about writing and children's literature. Learning the ropes of the business and staying on top of market information is key.

Read books (for writers). The Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market is a great book to find all the market information you need for any kind of publisher out there. It is packed with conference and award information, grant and scholarship information, and articles on writing.

Read books (for children). Know your audience. If you want to write for children, make sure you read the books your audience reads, whether it may be picture books, middle grade novels, or YA. Take note of what you like, how authors make characters come alive and grab your attention, story arcs, etc.

Write, write, write! Most important, just start writing.

Being a children's author takes dedication, persistence, and a really thick skin. But it is so fulfilling to see your work in print and watch a child read and enjoy what you wrote!

Thanks for stopping by,