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What's The Buzz?

Updated: Jul 31, 2022

This is my first blog post on my author website. I am starting my journey to be a published author. I want to share this journey with whoever would like to see it unfold.

I was hired as the Early Literacy Associate for the local library. As a part of my duties, I planned/presented weekly storytimes. I spent a lot of my time reading children's picture books. It made me wonder if I could write a picture book. I started as I do most new adventures- I read a book about the subject of writing children's books. I highly recommend Ann Whitford Paul's book- Writing Picture Books Revised and Expanded Edition: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication. This book gave several recommendations that I followed such as getting involved in SCBWI, finding a critique group, attending workshops etc. These were the things that taught me how to construct a children's picture book. I did pay for a workshop through Journey To Kidlit and it was very worth it. I also decided to have my first story edited by a freelance editor. It did cost but I think it was worth it. She also validated that the story had potential and has helped me throughout this process. I don't think this a must-do and if you have a strong critique group it isn't necessary.

I wrote my very first story in February and handed it to the scariest editor I may ever encounter- a tween. Ava was pretty harsh but correct. I struggled to find ideas. I read articles that suggested I think about my childhood and write about happy memories. I grew up in the '80s. Most of the things that were fun and memorable and now illegal or strongly discouraged. Eventually, I used an idea that came out of my husband, Jason's 100th-day celebration with his class.

Our library system has a writing center and a lot of writing programs- virtual and in person. I found a critique group that met on the first Monday of each month. In March, I took the huge step of participating in this group. At first, I thought I was in the wrong place. Everyone was sharing the beginnings of novels and they were amazing. It was very helpful to see how they handled the critique process. They gave praise and also suggestions on how to improve. They all seemed honest and knowledgeable. I was super nervous but read my story for them. They loved it which blew me away. It gave me the courage to think I might really be able to become a published author.

I spent a lot more time perfecting this story, starting other stories, participating in critique groups, starting a Twitter account/following writers, researching, and reading TONS of picture books. I learned that if I wanted to be traditionally published I needed to start by getting an agent. In order to get an agent, I had to query. This was not a term I had ever heard so I started researching it. I learned what it needed to include/not include, how to write a pitch/blurb/hook/synopsis, and then started researching agents. I looked agents up in books, online and used query tracker. I made a google sheet for all the agents that I wanted to query. I watched Youtube videos by Bookends Literary Agency which were amazing. I followed their suggestions to the LETTER. I had dreams of querying them but unfortunately, my story did not fit their wishlist.

In April, I started sending out my query. I had 3 stories and I sent them to the agents based on their wish list. I sent out about 12 queries and heard back within a couple of days on several. They were passes but this was to be expected. Based on info gathered from the writing community on Twitter, I knew it could take months or even years to get a positive response. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait that long and I was contacted on April 17- Easter Sunday and my wedding anniversary- by an agent who was interested. We set up a call about a week later. As always, I prepared for this call by doing research. What should I expect? What can I learn about this agency that I don't already know? What questions will she ask me? What questions should I ask her?

I was a basket case most of today in anticipation of this call. I tried not to get my hopes up but on the other hand, this truly was a call that could change my life. The call went great and I really liked/what she said about her agency. I now have 2 weeks to decide, contact the other agents that I queried to let them know I am considering an offer, and contact some of this agent's authors.

I know this was a SUPER long first post but now you are up to date on where I am on this journey. After the call, I set up a website and started this blog. I plan to start an author Facebook page but I haven't 100% decided if I will use a pen name- a topic for another blog. I hope you enjoy the behind-the-scenes view of what it takes to get a book published and stay tuned for more updates.

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