Sunday, July 10, 2011

from the BRG archives: a really long list

Some (ah-hem…many) truths about being a children’s book author (or at least some truths about me). In no particular order.

Petrified of…

1) Running out of ideas

1) Getting burnt out

2) Reading a bad review that is in some small way right

3) Reading a bad review that is completely wrong but your editor says it’s not professional to send hate mail

4) Doing a story hour and noticing there’s a kid in the back who doesn’t care to listen!... or worse, throws spit balls and says something bad about your mama

5) Never meeting that goal to become a moderately successful and semi-known author

6) Not making the next sale and going back to living off of the credit cards and eating pasta 6 out of 7 days of the week (7 is reserved for being luxurious—McDonald’s 99 cent menu)

Worried publisher will…

1) Lose too much money on the books

2) Lose faith in the author

3) Not agree to make changes to the book’s design

4) Use ugly fonts

5) Continue to use the ugly author photo you mistakenly gave because you were sleep deprived

Sick of…

1) Pulling all night-ers

2) Not having time or energy to keep the work area clean

3) Tripping over random computer wires because you don’t have time to figure out where to put them

4) Accidentally drinking yesterday’s coffee

5) Constantly being reminded of work because the “office” is in the “home”

6) Publishers not understanding that creativity can’t be forced—a deadline can’t be made if the author or illustrator is having a mental block! It’s not like accounting! You can’t help it if your brain doesn’t want to be clever or smart or creative today!

7) Going to the doctor’s or the bank or the library or the bookstore or a wedding or the park or a family reunion or on the bus or the bathroom or the soup isle and meeting someone who has a story that he/she thinks would make for the BEST KIDS’ BOOK EVER!!!!!!

8) People asking if it’s okay if they mention you in his or her cover letter

9) People asking for editors’ names and phone numbers

10) Hearing that kids mostly spend their time watching TV and not appreciating a good story on paper

11) Reading that Madonna’s books are on the bestseller list

12) Reading that Madonna is now hiring Rembrandt to illustrate her new book because her spiritual advisor brought him back to life for the very occasion.

11) Reading that 5 more celebrities will be writing about their childhoods because they think when they stuck a cookie up their nose at the age of 6 it was much funnier than when you did it…because they’re celebrities.

12) Knowing your books are just as good or better than the ones selling like hotcakes but no one has heard of your books so Joanne Smith will settle for what’s on the cardboard display with the flashing lights and toilet flushing sound because she’s in a rush and her kid’s is getting whiny and your book is having a grand time collecting dust with the other “spine-outs.”

13) The publisher not promoting your books because it’s more exciting to make blow up pigs that squirt water out of their noses and oink for the book written by adult romance novel writer turned juvie queen who still uses the same hazy author photo that looks like a fog machine had malfunctioned in the background.

14) The publisher expecting you to promote the books because they’re too busy pouring money into the books that already sell. Oh wait, that one was just mentioned. Someone is becoming repetitive.


1) Free lunches

2) Getting to wake up whenever you want

3) Working in pajamas

4) Being special enough to get a name tag at events

5) Free lunches

6) Editors being especially nice and sending delicious cookies

7) Being hugely dorky but seemingly cool

8) Good reviews

9) Great reviews

10) People who GET what you’re doing

11) Hearing that your book is his or her bedtime favorite

Want to add to the list? Go for it!

Originally published Decemeber 6, 2006


Anonymous said...


Have you ever thought of writing an early elementary level chapter book in a different genre such as mainstream (non-sf and non-fantasy)? I think you'd be great at that.

Just keep writing and you'll reach the popularity level you want. You're more well-known than you think.

Yeah, that last list on your blog really says it.


Anonymous said...

I meant the "Sick of:" list.