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7 Things I’ve Learned So Far: Augusta Scattergood

Categories: 7 Things I've Learned So Far, Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents Blog, What's New.

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers (this installment written by Augusta Scattergood, author of the middle grade debut, GLORY BE) at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how they possibly got their book agent — by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning.

(Check out a growing list of literary agents for middle grade fiction.)

GIVEAWAY: Augusta is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Elizabeth Garner won.)

 

 

      

Augusta Scattergood grew up in a small town in Mississippi. A former
school librarian, Augusta now reviews books for the
Christian Science
Monitor and Delta Magazine, as well as on her own blog. GLORY BE,
her debut novel, was recently named one of Amazon’s Top 20 Middle
Grade Novels of 2012. A second middle-grade novel, scheduled for Fall
2014 publication, has just been sold to Scholastic.
Connect with Augusta on Twitter.

 

 

1. Patience is a virtue. Said my grandmother and many other wise old people. I was a very impatient child. I didn’t like waiting for my birthdays. I didn’t like waiting for my younger brother to get ready for anything (well, he did take a very long time). I didn’t like waiting for Christmas, for summer camp, for anything.

As a writer, impatience will not be your friend. You wait for replies from literary agents, editors, writers conference organizers, busy teachers planning visits. Everything! An agent speaking at an event when I was starting out said something I didn’t forget: Don’t be too needy, too greedy, or too speedy. He could have added or Too Impatient.

(How much money can you expect from selling your first book?)

2. Pay it forward. I was lucky. When I decided to try my hand (no pun intended. No, really) at writing, one member of my newly-formed critique group had done a favor for another writing friend, now hugely popular, famous, and very, very kind. My own friend passed along my first manuscript to her, and I am eternally grateful.

Whenever possible, share all the goodness others have bestowed upon you.

3. Don’t stop writing. Yes, it’s hard work spreading the word about your first book. Or any book, from what I’m told. Yes, you have to travel, talk, and sign. For me, that’s really fun stuff, and I could easily get distracted into thinking it’s the only stuff. It’s not.

If your book has a degree of success in the world, certain people will think you should write another one. Unless your name is Harper Lee, you should try very hard to write a second book. Maybe even a third.

4. Don’t worry. (easier said than done). Before Glory Be hit the shelves, I worried about its reception. But a very wise person gave me good advice: It doesn’t matter what reviewers say. It’s the kids you are writing for. Your book will still be on library shelves and in readers’ hands long after the review has yellowed on the page.

The most amazing thing about having a book out in the world isn’t how many books you sell or when the reviewers say nice things. Okay, that’s pretty great, too.

What’s really wonderful is when young readers, librarians, even somebody who hasn’t read a Middle Grade novel since she finished Little Women back in her own childhood, stop by a signing or a talk to say how much my book meant to them or their students. Savor these moments. Make a scrapbook. Save pictures.

5. Keep a scrapbook, folder, binder, box- whatever it takes to hold the memories close. (See #4, above). Your debut year is very special. Enjoy every minute of it.

(The skinny on why to sign with a new/newer literary agent.)

6. Take Time to Breathe.

7. Smell the Flowers. Good writing, like bread dough rising, needs time to percolate. When your first book is published, it’s easy to get lost in the noise (see #s 3 and 6, above). Always remember what first brought you to writing. For me, it was the details and the characters. My favorite advice, loosely copied from Miss Eudora Welty: Always put the moon in the right part of the sky. Keep your notebook handy, fill it with details from all around you. Don’t hurry your writing.

The Quakers have a thought I try to remember when I’m most frustrated by my writing life: Way Will Open.

Deep breath, smell the flowers, try not too hard to worry. And may all your story “ways” open up and reveal themselves.

GIVEAWAY: Augusta is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: Elizabeth Garner won.)

 

2014-childrens-writers-and-illustrators-market

Writing books/novels for kids & teens? There are hundreds
of publishers, agents and other markets listed in the
latest Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market.
Buy it online at a discount.

 

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

 

 

Writing a novel for children? Literary agent
Mary Kole, who runs the popular KidLit.com
website, has a new guide out for writers of
young adult and middle grade. Pick up a copy
of Writing Irresistible Kidlit and get your
children’s book published.

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18 Responses to 7 Things I’ve Learned So Far: Augusta Scattergood

  1. clouddancer3107 says:

    EXCELLENT advice…..the only problem I see is that you have to have a few years under your belt before you realise that you DO NOT actually know EVERYTHING!!!! LOL…but once you learn that, then all of this advice is extremly sage and worth it’s weight in Platinum!!!!!

    Thank you for your advice and I am eagerly looking foreward to reading your books!!!

  2. swinchester says:

    Thank you so much for all the advice. The article was great and exactly what I needed after some frustrating weeks. I agree with what you say, patience is important! Congrats on your book’s release!

  3. bethdc says:

    Love your realistic advice including that it’s what you’ve learned so far. Looking forward to enjoying your book! When you were working in a school library, did you ever picture the shelf where a book of yours might be shelved one day?

    • gsgood says:

      Beth- It’s a very distant dream come true! But I will confess that when I received the very first hardback copy of GLORY BE, the first thing that struck me was the beautiful design and especially the spine. That had to be the Library Geek in me! Thanks for your comment, Augusta

  4. I’m going to use “way will open” as my mantra.

    I’m looking forward to reading your book.

  5. Greeley says:

    Thank you, Augusta, for using this space to pay it forward for many to share and be comforted. Such sensible, wise comments. One of the women in my online critique group sent me the link for your 7 things article. It is a wonderful world we writers share. Congratulations on Glory Be!

  6. Nancy J. Cavanaugh says:

    Augusta, you know what a big fan I am! Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned. I’m so close to entering my own debut year, and I can take all the advice I can get. I think finding a balance between writing and promoting is the trickiest, and as I’ve observed you embrace success this year, I’ve seen how well you’ve done this. Congrats!

  7. kiteflyer says:

    Great advice Augusta and congratulations on your book.

  8. Elizabeth Garner says:

    Thanks for the tips! Congratulations on your novel. It’s great to hear of a fellow school librarian and teacher who has broken in. I am looking forward to reading your book.

  9. lipscribe123 says:

    Augusta,

    Thanks for these great pieces of wisdom. I especially relate to not being too needy, greedy, or speedy. My debut book is coming out in 2014 and I appreciate all of what you have shared here.

    Thanks!

  10. I love the idea of keeping a scrapbook. It’s always easy to remember the few negative comments someone may say about your work, but for some reason it’s more challenging to hold on to the good ones. You’ve inspired me to start my own little collection of good-book memories that I can revisit when I need a lift.

  11. vrundell says:

    Great advice for anyone, not just writers!
    Thanks for the reminders.

  12. gsgood says:

    Thanks for the comments. We writers learn so much from each other, don’t we!

  13. dkeymel says:

    Your heart is in the right place. Thanks for your seven things learned.

  14. drjules says:

    Augusta, Thank you for your comment of pay it forward. I think this is so important. The more we help others, even in the smallest way, the more we will be helped. I found my publisher for my first book because of the kindness of an introduction from a non-writer friend.
    And I really like your suggestion of a scrap book! Thank you I’ll be doing that.
    Julie Covert
    Author of “The Insightful Body” and “Art of Winter”
    Tweeting @JulieMCovert

  15. sherechita says:

    Like you I am an impatient person. Your quote; “Don’t be too needy, too greedy or too speedy” was something that I needed to hear. Thank you.

    This year I have made a vow that I would exercise more patience and actively seek an Agent or a Publisher. With luck and hard work I believe that I can attract one.

    Congratulations on Glory Be.

  16. Rachel says:

    It was so good to read this. I’m hoping to make 2013 my breakout year because it is really the only year that I would be able to do it. Right now I’m nearly tearing my hair out about a plot hole that probably doesn’t mean much in the grand scale of things, but is threatening to send me into the next tub of Blue Bell.

    So I’m taking your advice, and taking time to breathe.

    Thanks from Texas!

  17. nlstewart says:

    Brava, Augusta! Wonderful advice all around. And congratulations on Glory Be, a marvelous read.

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