Wednesday, December 06, 2006

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!


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

12. When you find out that some BRILLIANT little girl in Florida dressed up like a cowgirl for her school's Dress Up Like Your Favorite Book Character Day and carried your book in a parade.

Meghan McCarthy said...

Tammi, did that really happen? If so, that's awesome! I found out a little boy did a book report on my first book and dressed up like the character. That's the best part about being an author hands down.

Anonymous said...

Petrified of...
7. Never getting to all the ideas in my head.

Worried publisher will...
8. Never find me.

Sick of...
15. Doing laundry...oh, wrong list.

12. Walking 10 feet to get to work.


Anonymous said...

Meghan--It did!

Anonymous said...

GRRR...the link didn't work.

Let me try again:

Anonymous said...

This HAS to work. :)

Anonymous said...

GRRR...the entire address didn't post. The Big Day was October 10, 2006.

Sadly, I am not a techno-goddess.

alvinaling said...

haha--tammi, that last link worked for me. Adorable!

And Meghan, loved this post. I thought this one especially was so true--I fear this too, as an editor:

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

Meghan McCarthy said...

Tammi, that's really cool. What a cute picture.

And yes, I'm afraid my weaknesses will be found out. Sometimes it's just not possible to do what you want to do with a book or not enough room or not enough time or you have to bend too much to satisfy everyone at the pub. co.--I'm always petrified someone will notice something I don't like. After all, we are all our own worst critics. I can pick my books apart.

Anonymous said...

True and hilarious list, thanks! I feel comforted, even though I'm just a random freelance illustrator. (I just discovered this blog thx to my sister Anna. What an awesome idea, and way inspiring!)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that list. It couldn't have come on a better day! One of those-- why do I even bother-- days.

Anonymous said...

my book came out in february. with advance sales, i'd sold about 13,000 copies in the first six weeks or so. for me, that's grand. but it was even better when i read that Madonna's adoption-imbroglio was costing her sales -- only 9,000 in the first couple of months. don't tell me I'm wrong, because I'm still savoring it. yes. I OUTSOLD MADONNA.

you have too, no doubt.

Rita said...

This entire list is hilarious.

That "drinking yesterday's coffee" item made me imaginary-snort-out-yesterday's-coffee. Oh, man.