One of my favorite memories while writing late one night that I never want to forget, happened when my son came into our bedroom. My son is the “King of Bedtime Stalling” and finds any excuse to tell my husband and I “one more story” before bed.
I was in our room typing and he asked what I was working on. I told him I was trying to write a book for kids and he asked me to read what I wrote. At that time, I had only written the first page and had stopped writing at quite a cliffhanger. His little eyes got wide and he shouted, “What happens next, Mom!?” I started laughing and told him that I didn’t know yet! For the next few nights, he would check on me and ask me to read the new parts. Not knowing what was coming next and having the freedom to change it was very liberating and exciting. Having the “King’s” enthusiasm really motivated me to keep writing.
Moving forward a few months, we are at a point in this journey where I have written the story, “The Kindness Machine”, read and reread it 1,000 times, and made constant changes daily…but now what? THE LIBRARY!
As a teacher, I use the public library weekly or biweekly. I have collaborated with the head children’s librarian at our local branch on projects for school, so he seemed like a good place to start. I will forever be grateful to Ben for his time in explaining the publishing process, pulling additional resources (see picture below) and giving the best piece of advice. He said, “Think of writing a book, like writing a grant. 100 people want to do it and all 100 people know how they are going to spend the money, but only six will actually do the hard work. The key here is to be part of that six. Put in the hard work and don’t give up.”
For the next few months I researched the publishing market. Only certain publishers allowed for unsolicited manuscripts like mine. Unsolicited meant that I didn’t have an agent. I wrote and rewrote my query letter…the short, to the point letter that publishers want to see to quickly learn about your book.
During this research period, I began sending the manuscript to a few colleagues and friends. I later learned that there is a name for this: BETA READERS! These are the readers that read your work before it is published and provide honest feedback. In the book, “Writing Picture Books – A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication” by children’s author, Ann Whitford Paul, she wrote, ” …they’re not criticizing you as a person but attempting to help make your manuscript the best it can be. You will learn to be grateful for their honesty and constructive comments.” (see picture below)
Thank you to all of my beta readers: Pam B., Ashley C., Dana I., Beth E., Max E., Brooke P., Sarah M., Nicole D. and Marty D. I will forever be grateful for your honest feedback and unwavering support.
I’ll see you back here tomorrow for a post about all of these wonderful people.