7 Things I've Learned So Far: Augusta Scattergood

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. GIVEAWAY: Kami 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.)
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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.)

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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.)

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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:

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Writing a novel for children? Literary agent
Mary Kole, who runs the popular KidLit.com
website, has a new guide out for writers of
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