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7 Things I've Learned So Far, by Michele Jakubowski

7. Write everything down. I came up with the initial idea for the Sidney & Sydney series as I was falling asleep one night. I knew myself well enough to know that I had to get up immediately and write down my thoughts. I had been burned several times before when I thought I’d remember my ideas later. I never do. Now I have scraps of paper all over my house with thoughts on the book I’m currently working on or for future projects. Now if only I could work on my handwriting so I could read all of those great ideas later. GIVEAWAY: Michele 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: sfullmer won.)

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,”where writers (this installment written by Michele Jakubowski, author of SIDNEY & SYDNEY) 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.

(See a list of middle grade literary agents.)

GIVEAWAY: Michele 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: sfullmer won.)

Michele-Jakubowski.jpg
sidney-and-sydney-book

Michele Jakubowski is the author of the children’s book series
Sidney & Sydney (Picture Window Books). Book one, Third Grade Mix-Up,
is now available. Michele is currently working on a new early reader
series for Capstone as well as further adventures for Sidney & Sydney.
She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

1. Everyone you meet is writing/thinking about writing a book. At first it drove me crazy that whenever I was introduced as a children’s book author the person I was meeting inevitably followed with, “Oh, I’ve been thinking about doing that” or “I’d like to do that someday, too” as if we were talking about visiting Europe or skydiving and not an ever-challenging endeavor. I’ve learned to hold my tongue and not roll my eyes, but it’s still difficult at times.

2. When you write for children every child you meet will want his/her name in a book. The challenge is you’ll meet a lot of kids. And they’ve all got great memories. Don’t make any promises.

3. There is no one correct path. When I first began writing with my sister-in-law we only queried small publishers and eventually found one. When I began writing on my own I wanted to think bigger and spent a long time looking for an agent or publisher. Although I did not find an agent I was fortunate to find an amazing publisher on my own. I also thought about self-publishing along the way. Point being: all of these options were good and while I’m happy with where I’m at today, I never would have guessed it would have been such a long and windy road.

(Learn how to get your kids/children's book published. Hear from authors.)

4. I live with two great sources of inspiration. I’ve learned to watch my son and daughter with an author’s eye. I think about the way they handle even the simplest of situations and I think that makes my writing more authentic. I’ve become a keen observer of people (or a Nosy-Nellie as my husband might put it) and more than once I’ve incorporated a behavior or mannerism of a child I’ve seen at a restaurant or store in my writing.

5. Publishing takes forever. So far I’ve published two books with two different publishers and both times they took what felt like forever to come out. This is definitely not a field for impatient people.

(Meet agent Jody Klein of Brandt Hochman, who seeks new clients now.)

6. Feedback from your target audience is key. I’ve had reviews written by adults that have made me very happy (and some that have made me not-so-happy) but it’s the feedback I get directly from a child reader that I value the most. I’m also part of a mother/daughter book club and listening to what the girls look for in a book has been invaluable.

7. Write everything down. I came up with the initial idea for the Sidney & Sydney series as I was falling asleep one night. I knew myself well enough to know that I had to get up immediately and write down my thoughts. I had been burned several times before when I thought I’d remember my ideas later. I never do. Now I have scraps of paper all over my house with thoughts on the book I’m currently working on or for future projects. Now if only I could work on my handwriting so I could read all of those great ideas later.

GIVEAWAY: Michele 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: sfullmer won.)

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