Today I’m welcoming Julie Grasso, Middle Grade author to share some seriously amazing tips all the way from writing to publishing and much more!
She now has the floor …
I had a dream to write children’s books.
As a registered pediatric nurse I spent the better part of 13 years literally wrapping children in cotton wool. Every day I witnessed great courage and resilience which lead me to write a story about a little girl elf just like them, but that is the end of the story, let’s start from the beginning.
Confession 1: I didn’t know how to write a children’s book, so I bought a few books
- Ebook, Become A Children’s Book Writer by Jill McDougal
- Writing Best Selling Children’s Books by Alexander Gordon Smith
- Writing Children’s Books For Dummies by Lisa Rojany Bucceri and Peter Economy
These books were absolutely brilliant, but they did alert me to the harsh facts about children’s book writing.
- It is a very close-knit industry and many publishers will not accept unsolicited manuscripts.
- Very few agents in Australia take on new clients.
- It will probably take you several years to hone your book before it is even remotely palatable.
- They suggested that I read lots of children’s books to get an idea of what other authors are writing about.
So I read a lot of kid’s books. Some I loved, some I couldn’t finish, but they gave me a great insight into the market and what kids are reading.
Confession 2: I do not speak literary
I thought that a Widget was a worm that got into your ear, a Meme was a typo, MC (main character) meant Master of Ceremonies, MS (manuscript) meant Multiple Sclerosis, WIP (work in progress) meant something you use to handle cattle, I can keep going if you like but you get the picture.
- When I joined Twitter only about six months ago, I didn’t know what all those words meant, but after following lots of authors and reading their tidbits and profiles and blogs and websites, I began to pick up the language. I am proud to say, I think I now speak Literary and Twitter and I have found so many useful resources and made many new friends along the way, like Rebecca Berto’s fabulous blog Novel Girl. [Rebecca here: thanks!]
Confession 3: Honey, I shrunk my dream
- When I started I had high hopes of dazzling the agents and publisher’s alike. I even managed to get the attention of an Aussie publisher, but sadly, there are only so many books they take on per year and they rarely take on unsolicited clients, but they did give me some encouragement. They liked my story; it just didn’t fit for them.
- I got sucked in by the Agent Pitch Contests: Don’t bet me wrong, they are fabulous, they give you great feedback on your query; I even used some of my query as the back cover for my book so it was not all lost. However, I found myself getting so disappointed that I didn’t get the agents attention; despite having what I thought was a really great story that rivalled the other entrants.
- I also queried a bunch of children book agents and didn’t get offers, but I feel a path I had to pursue before I was really ready to change my dream of publishing to seriously focus on Self Publishing.
Confession: 4 Honey, I maxed out the credit card
Well, not exactly but my self-publishing dream was not free and there were some costs that I decided I would absorb with the chance that I may never ever recoup. Here is what I spent money on.
- Early in my drafts, I had a manuscript assessment. This was a paid service through The Writers Workshop in the UK. Val Tyler is a children’s book author. She gave me an honest critique which I used like my bible. I even resubmitted to her my redraft for a further fee, but it was still not ready.
- I would have to say it was probably another five edits later that I felt my story was ready for professional editing, which I also did. Not for the feint of purse but certainly worth the money.
- I had an awesome cover created by an animator friend. It was exactly what I wanted but I had a really clear vision of my cover from very early on in my writing. I managed to impart that to my illustrator, David Blackwell of www.drawshootmove.com
Confession 5: I did the formatting myself for print on demand and eBook
- I posed a question early on my blog because I was not sure if an eBook was going to reach my middle grade audience. I realised I had to do Print On Demand as well as eBook if I was going to even remotely get my book into kids hands. My research showed that the eReader technology is not yet that accessible and affordable for a lot of families.
- I also researched a few self-publishing companies but I realised that they kind of lock you into their distribution channels making it difficult to get Amazon reviews. I realised that I simply didn’t need them.
- I used Createspace, which took a bit of learning but their do it yourself stuff is really great. I had my husband help me edit it as he is a computer whizz, but at some point I had to say no more edits, it’s time to go to the mattresses. (Godfather quote FYI).
- Once my book was ready on Createspace, It was actually very easy to go to Kindle Direct Publishing. I thought I would not be able to figure this out and would have to pay, but my hubby helped me research it and it wasn’t that hard.
- I bought my own ISBN in a block of 10. If I had used one of the Createspace generated ISBNs I would not be able to republish using that ISBN in the future if my secret dream of getting a publishing deal ever comes to fruition.
- I found a great blog site that had a run down on how to get an EIN so that I wouldn’t have to pay 30% tax to the US government as a foreigner. Have a look at http://catherineryanhoward.com/2012/02/24/non-us-self-publisher-tax-issues-dont-need-to-be-taxing/.
- I read an awesome post by fellow twitterer Christine Nolfi @christinenolfi, about how to get rave reviews www.molly-greene.com/how-to-get-your-book-reviewed. I have been collecting book bloggers sites in a spread sheet for nearly six months and I have narrowed my list down to about 40. I started submitting my review letter to them about three weeks ago after I launched on Amazon. To date I have 16 confirmed bloggers happy to accept my title for review and six author interviews and giveaways. Not bad for a little indie.
Confession 6: Self Publishing is hard work
As my sister once told me she would have given it in a long time ago. However, I want my daughter to one day know that her mum had a dream and she pursued it and this is the result.
Check out my cover to the left and you can find me at:
Book at Goodreads:
Buy Julie’s book in paperback:
Click to add my book, PRECISE to Goodreads
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