Today’s post is very different from the normal: all about animals, and dreams, with some solid advice about publishing thrown in and a new and exciting author to meet.
I’m really excited about today’s guest post by middle grade author and recipient of an award in the Writer’s Digest 2013 eBook Awards, Jeanne E. Rogers. I have never hosted a middle grade author before, and have never really considered all that goes into writing and publishing middle grade fiction.
Needless to say, I’m stoked to have the opportunity to learn more about the genre and to host this post, to pass that knowledge on to you.
Jeanne writes about Australia, but is from someplace very different….
She writes about Australia, but doesn’t live there!!!
It surprises my readers to discover that I am not from Australia. The truth of the matter is, I live in Connecticut. A trip to Australia takes about twenty-four hours from Danbury to Melbourne. It’s worth it.
I dreamed about seeing Australia since I was a child. I was fascinated with koalas and kangaroos. I wondered what it would be like to wake to the call of a kookaburra. I imagined a lot, and those imaginings turned into stories, ramblings and reflections of the world around me, or rather the world I dreamed was around me.
When I was young I loved animals, all kinds of animals. I wanted a pet so badly, but was reminded we couldn’t have one. Dad was allergic to everything with fur. One day I found a snake. ‘No fur,’ I thought. This has possibilities! I brought it home, and thus began the string of animals that I carried across our threshold, and my mother indulged me.
The string went something like this; snake, mice, cat, dog, iguana, bird, etc. My mother instilled a reverence for life in me. She believed people weren’t the only important beings on the planet. Humans are, however, having the greatest impact on our planet’s environment.
I was first a voracious reader, and I would write to release the tension of the day. I would encapsulate a daily incident, a frustration, a love or a hate. Those incidents would become memories that I kept squirreled away. I continued to write, to dream and to create friendships in my mind with some very unusual creatures. I believed someday it would come together; somehow there would be a time when I would find a passion that would bind my dreams to my writing.
That’s pretty much how the seeds for what I do now, were planted. I write middle grade fantasies that aim to entertain youngsters while offering some information about animals. I highlight animals that children may have never heard of before.
For instance, everyone knows what a Koala looks like, but are you familiar with a Kowari, or a Dibbler? How about a Bilby? Do you know that the Bilby just happens to be Australia’s Easter Bunny? Do you know why the animals of Australia are so very different?
This can go on and on. There is so much to learn and so much to teach. So that’s what I’m trying to do. So why not have a bit of fun and an adventure while we learn?
Recent changes in the publishing world gave me courage, and my stories and my passions gathered momentum and rolled forward. Self-publishing no longer carries the stigma it once did, and there are so many places to visit for help, support, and so many options for publishing one’s work.
In April of 2013, my first middle grade fantasy, The Sword of Demelza, published with the support and assistance of CreateSpace (not to mention a few friends, and editors). I learned a lot about self-publishing from my journey, which took about four years from concept to publication. I learned that first you have to have a passion, you have to have courage, you have to have tenacity, and you have to have planned out your path properly.
In my opinion there are several factors that should be considered before you set pen to paper. First, you have to know your competition. Some writers just have an idea and they move forward, but what about similar books? Did you research your competition?
Researching takes time, but it’s well worth the effort. How many other writers are on the same track you’re on, and how will your work stand out from theirs?
Another factor, which goes hand in hand with researching your competition, is ‘knowing your audience.’ Who are you writing for? Do you have something that the target audience has not seen or read before?
Your audience is your market, and believe me when I say, marketing is the work of the devil, so you had better consider your audience ‘cause it’s your market. Once you know your audience you can set up a plan to promote and build your platform, which is another essential factor. You must consider what it is that makes you different from everyone out there and zero in, focus on it.
Promotion and building a platform is essential. Don’t wait until you have that manuscript ready to publish or send to an agent! Begin establishing yourself and building your platform well in advance of your planned publishing date. I started years in advance on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. I started a blog focusing on what my passion is: animals, educating youngsters, highlighting Australia, and just having a bit of fun while doing it.
Lastly, I would like to state the obvious, don’t publish that manuscript until it is perfect!!! You will need lots of beta readers to get you there, and it’s worth the dollars to hire a professional editor.
I would love you to stop by my blog; you may meet a furry friend that you never knew existed! (http://warriorechidna.blogspot.com)
Jeanne E. Rogers, Author
The Sword of Demelza, a middle grade fantasy where endangered animal heroes roam the pages.
Available on Amazon and Barnes and Nobel