Are you interested in writing or illustrating a children's book (or both)? If so, then you'll want to listen to this fun, yet in-depth Writer's Market Podcast (which I co-host with the one-and-only Robert Lee Brewer), where we interview successful writer and illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi. Ohi is the illustrator for the Michael Ian Black children's books I'm Bored and Naked, as well as the Judy Blume books and her own Where Are My Books. While she dished out many, many great pieces of advice throughout, here are five takeaways that stuck with me (and if you find these helpful you should definitely listen to the entire interview here or here on iTunes):
5 Tips on Writing and Illustrating Children's Books
1. Be Enthusiastic.
Always be excited about your work when discussing with others, whether that’s with literary agents, editors, publishers or potential readers. The publishing industry can be a grind at time, as you often battle unanswered emails and rejection letters. Don’t let that overshadow why you wrote your book in the first place and keep that positive spirit alive. You never know where it may lead.
2. Put Yourself in a Position to Succeed.
While you can’t control when lightning will hit, you can control your own personal lightning rod all the time (Debbie credits Maureen McGowan for this advice). Also, make sure you’re always prepared that way when lightning does hit, you’re in excellent shape to push your career forward (Debbie credits Kevin Sylvester for this advice).
3. Don’t Assume Where You Are is Where You Are Meant to Be
Be open to what you might be able to accomplish. Be willing to take risks. Debbie left her freelance career behind to follow her real dream of writing and illustrating children’s books.
4. Trust the process.
Let people in the publishing process do their jobs and don’t try to micro-manage others along the way. An illustrator shouldn’t tell the writer how to do their job, he or she should trust the writer to write the script—just as a writer should trust the illustrator to take the script and do a great job illustrating it.
At times it may feel like the only thing that’s happening is rejection, but battle through that. Nearly all writers face rejection—it’s almost like a rite of passage. But it’s the writers who persevere and push forward with their craft that finally find success. Be one of those writers.
If you want more great tips on how to write and illustrate children’s books as well as in-depth explanations of the thoughts above, listen to the full podcast with Debbie Ridpath Ohi here at WritersMarket.com or click here to listen to and subscribe on iTunes.
Plus, check out these other great interviews on the Writer's Market Podcast:
- From Day Job to Full-Time Freelance Writing Career with Doug White. In this podcast, we dish advice about making connections, discuss how to follow up with editors to land more assignments, and talk to successful freelancer Doug White about how he transitioned from his full-time job to become a full-time freelancer. (Doug is the editor of The Creative Group’s blog.)
- How to Talk to a Literary Agent with Carly Watters. In this podcast, we share tips and funny encounters with literary agents, important advice for entering writing contests, and discuss how to approach an agent (and more) with literary agent Carly Watters.
- Grants for Writers with C. Hope Clark. The founder of Funds for Writers shares advice on finding often overlooked money available for writers, tips on overcoming anxiety at conferences, and how to break into the conference circuit.
- Tax Tips for Writers with CPA Carol Topp. Learn about the best way to handle taxes, make deductions, and decide upon a business structure-for your freelance business-by listening to the advice from CPA Carol Topp.
- Building a Freelance Writing Career with Carol Tice. Super successful freelance writer Carol Tice shares her best advice for writers on how to break into new markets, make more money, and more!
- How to Start Freelance Writing with Zachary Petit. Learn tips on how to have successful interviews, make pitches, and more-from the author of The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing.
- Oprah Book Club’s First Author Gives Writing & Publishing Advice. Learn tips from someone who is both a writer and an acquisitions editor (and also the very first author chosen by Oprah for her book club).
Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
- How long should novel chapters be? Click here to find out.
- You started a blog -- now what? Here's how to get people to read your posts.
- How to pitch agents at a writers' conference.
- Understanding Book Contracts: Learn what’s negotiable and what’s not.
- New Agent Alerts: Click here to find agents who are currently seeking writers.
- Download a year's worth of writing prompts right here.
Thanks for visiting The Writer's Dig blog. For more great writing advice, click here.
Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer's Digest and author of the popular gift bookOh Boy, You're Having a Girl: A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.