Posts Tagged ‘advice’





Filed under: Check-it-out, Pondering, Publishing, Reading, Writing

There was lots of thoughtful conversation going on at the Eastern NY SCBWI Conference last weekend. Agents, editors, authors and librarians were giving great advice. I was dispensing what I hoped was good and solid information and lots of interesting question were raised by the excited and interested attendees.  A combination like that always gets me thinking. What have I been pondering you ask?




First of all, let me explain the concept of a do over, because there is a range of do-overness and you should probably know the zone we are working in…

On one end there is the HARMLESS DO OVER: Kim opens a box of mixed candies that do not have a little chocolate chart like the Whitman Sampler. I pick up a square covered in chocolate, bite in and get a mouth full of jelly. I then peel all the chocolate off the gelatinous cube and eat it before humming the jelly in the can. I then grab another square of chocolate and find a delicious caramel. Do over successful with no major foul attached. Just don’t look too closely at the calorie count.

Then on the other hand there is the THE EXTREME DO OVER: Kim does something so devastatingly stupid the only way she can make herself feel better is crawl back into the womb and get born again and start over fresh. Yes, these events do happen and no I will not tell you what they are. I want you to like me. 

But, neither of these do overs are the kind I’m talking about. I’m referring to the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD DO OVERS. These are the kind that have a little bit of scale-tipping power in your life, but aren’t going to break you as a human being.  They fall somewhere between I can’t believe I forgot to remind the Tooth Fairy to come!!!!!  AND After pulling the car up into my mom’s yard to accommodate a sleeping baby, I wish I hadn’t assumed my car was the ONLY car parked in the YARD!!!!  (In my defense it was dark, my brother’s car was hunter green, he wasn’t there when I pulled in and he did not have a sleeping baby.)

The MIDDLE OF THE ROAD DO OVER is what we are talking about today. And we are going to limit it to all things author-ly. So if the “today me” got to give the “past me” good advice, this is what I would tell her to do…

* Start the next book immediately and w0rk on it with gusto while you are trying to get an agent, while you are on submission and during the debut year.

* Blog consistently from the beginning, but blog conservatively. When I first started blogging, I only did it when the mood hit me. DO NOT DO THIS. The people who follow you will show up regularly if you provide a steady product. If they have to work too hard to read your blog, they are going to read someone else’s instead. But, when I first started to finally do regular posts, I was doing posts on M-W-F. This was fine when I wasn’t a debut author, running around pulling my hair out, but when my marketing needs and author obligations became bigger, the 3 day a week schedule became too much for me to handle. If your blog posts are taking away from your writing time, you are doing too many posts. My advice would be to blog fewer times a month, but on a regular schedule. You can always add more days if you find it works for you.

* Although you do not have to come to children’s literature with a built in platform, you will be expected to build one. Think ahead about how you might like to handle some of your social media. When I was first starting out, I just wanted to connect with people in any way I could. I didn’t think of the details. If your expectation is to be a public figure aka a published author, use YOUR name or your anticipated pen name on your social media. Here is an example why.

If my name on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc…is Kimmiepoppins and I end up having one or more meaningful online interactions with someone one and they want to go and buy my book, kinda of spur of the moment, I could run into a BIG problem.  If that person is wandering around a bookstore searching for something written by Kimmiepoppins–they aren’t going to find it. I’ve just lost a sale. My book is not associated with my nickname, unless I write a picture book–then my pen name is TOTALLY going to be Kimmiepoppins.

Keep in mind, you won’t be able to anticipate everything about  social media, it changes too quickly, but do your best to plan ahead for who you want to be, not who you are at this point in your career.



* Understand that if you’re not failing, you’re not dreaming BIG ENOUGH. Failing is part of the process in becoming a success. Seriously. I’m not lying. But I should also warn you, I do believe there is a difference between taking calculated risks and being a dumb ass. If you think you can knock off a quick first draft of something, get and agent and sell that puppy, the odds are not in your favor. You’re not progressive, your delusional. But if you put the time and effort into learning your craft and you write  your 82,000 draft and then you think a book about a girl who’s best friend is a dust bunny, but she falls in love with a vacuum is going to be the next BIG THING. Who am I tell you it isn’t so. I say go for it. You can’t truly lose because you’ll either hit the jack pot or fall forward into a bigger success down the road.


* Read a zillion books inside your genre. Read a steady stream of books on craft. But also read outside of both of these areas. Read good adult books. Now listen, I’m the first one to tell you YA gets a bum wrap. Ever heard someone get asked why they don’t write real books? Yeah, idiots abound. Here’s the truth. There is crap in every genre. There are AMAZING books in every genre. Read really good adult books. It will stretch you as a writer, as a thinker and as a person.


* Know when to end a list and feed your kids so you’re not rushing to jujitsu and then having to come home and do homework when everyone is tired and stinky and grouchy and it cuts into the fun time of reading books together early enough so that you can sit down quietly with a bowl of ice cream on hump day and still get to bed in a timely manner that won’t turn you into a zombie the next day when you have to be up at 5:50 to start your day all over again. That is my best advice.


Turn around is fair play. In your experience, what DO OVERS would you give as advice to writers trying to figure it out as they go along?


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