If you’re dreaming of becoming an author, or are just starting out in publishing, I wanted to share a little of my journey so far to help you on your way! While I have been writing my whole life (even dabbling in paid blogging in the 00s), I always looked at traditional publishing as being “a bit impossible”. I decided that I needed to do something about my mindset, and learn more about the industry I wanted to join.
I started attending free webinars and signing up for free publications to improve my writing, and eventually signed up to courses with The Children’s Book Academy (on the recommendation of a friend) for Middle Grade and Picture Book writing. Through this, I started meeting other aspiring authors, suddenly had “critique buddies” helping improve my manuscripts, and started to believe that publishing was entirely possible!
It was through a “Golden Ticket” opportunity at the end of the CBA picture book course – where agents and publishers could ask to see more of your work after submitting a pitch and bio – that led to I’ve Got A Cow Called Maureen being picked up by Clear Fork Publishing! My publisher then contracted an illustrator, and Maureen now dances (and sings!) in the most beautifully colourful, whimsical way. I can’t wait to share the book with you this year!
I’m now in the process of writing at least three new manuscripts (and have a wonderful critique group who help me keep my writing on point), which I hope to send out to agents for professional representation. I have memberships with Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, Queensland Writers Centre, Booklinks, Storyteller Academy, Children’s Book Insider, and Writing Magic with Callie-Metler Smith. I attend regular online courses, and in-person courses with QWC and Booklinks; I also participate in helpful (free!) challenges like StoryStorm (book idea generation), Social Media challenges (to help me build my profile and branding for the future), and Read For Research Month (analysing picture book manuscripts to help my own writing). If I sound like an insanely busy person right now, I’ll agree with you. I decided to treat 2019 as if I were completing a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing!
If you’re starting out, start wherever it is that you are. There are SO many free resources and webinars out there to get you started, and that really is the way to start getting an idea about how to structure and tell stories for whatever audience you hope to win! I can recommend all of the groups I’ve noted above as a starting point – signing up for their newsletters will often inform you about free events and helpful information. Inspiration is always the starting point, but education gets your inspiration flying in formation!
Sometimes this writing gig can feel a bit overwhelming, but knowing that this is a career I want to grow for the rest of my lifetime helps give me focus and a deep sense of purpose. And if ever I get really stuck, I think about my young self – if she knew she’d become a published author in the first place, she’d be dancing a giddy jig of happiness! I think I’ll join her! 💜🙃