Jobs for Writers #1: Children’s Book Author

So as you guys may have noticed (or not noticed), I’ve been really busy this week. Not only have I been slowly recovering from an illness, but I’ve been maddeningly busy and may or may not have missed my usual every-other-Wednesday photo blog post (No, I definitely missed it).

All of this has caused me to have some sort of mini existential meltdown in which I questioned my purpose on earth and how it all fits in with who and what I want to be when I get out of college. But don’t freak out, anybody. Like I said, it was mini.

I still want to be a writer, of that I am certain. But what exactly should I write about? Where do I want to write? Should I write for myself or should I write for the world? Do I want to make an impact or do I want to float by under the radar?

Here’s what I’ve decided. I’m going to introduce a new series of posts in which I highlight and discuss a number of different jobs available to writers. These posts will be both for me and for you guys to explore the realm of writing and to look at different types of jobs that many of us may never have considered or even knew existed.

For now, I’ll be researching different jobs and discussing them, but if you guys ever have any recommendations or requests, leave me a comment below and I’ll be sure to look into it. So here we go.

Children’s Book Author

English: Winner of The Macmillan Prize for Chi...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Though often considered the “easiest” type of book writing, becoming an author of children’s books, whether they be picture books or short novels, requires the same knowledge of creative writing as becoming an author of another genre. While it’s not necessary to have a degree to write children’s books, it is helpful to understand the ins and outs of the English language and be familiar with simple and complex literary concepts so as to use them properly in books.

Knowledge of marketing and how to market oneself to potential publishers is also a key trait of children’s authors. As an author, you’ll spend a lot of your time sending queries to publishers and pitching your ideas, so having an understanding of how The Business works would be beneficial.

Like a lot of authors, authors of children’s books are paid by the advance and royalty system. When a publishing company buys your book, they pay you an advance (depending on how well they think your books are going to sell on the market). Then, once your books have sold and they have accumulated the same amount of money as the advance (basically, once you’ve paid off your advance), you start getting paid in whatever percentage of royalties you negotiated in your contract with the publisher. Royalties are how much money you get out of the sale price (ex] If your book sells for $10 and you have a 10% contract, you’ll get $1 per book). Unfortunately, if your book doesn’t sell well, you might not be making any money off royalties.

Children’s book authors usually have to share their advance with the illustrator (and the illustrator usually gets paid more), so if you’re a writer who can draw and is concerned about making the most money possible (don’t become a writer), it would probably be wise to illustrate your own books. Sharing is no fun anyway.

Naturally, you’d have to be of a creative mindset in order to be an author. Also, it probably wouldn’t hurt for you to like kids. And books.
 

Degree
Not required

Salary
On average $55, 940 (US Bureau of Labor and Statistics)
(Tip: Salary varies. You can make twice that amount in larger cities and metropolitan areas)

Research/Helpful Links!
http://education-portal.com/articles/Become_a_Childrens_Author_Step-by-Step_Career_Guide.html

http://work.chron.com/much-childrens-book-writer-make-year-15393.html

http://www.scbwi.org/Pages.aspx/Top-10-FAQs

http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes273043.htm

Paige’s Pages: A Literary Work #4

Throwback Thursday! (It’s not Thursday.) Here’s a poem I wrote in high school.

 

Those of Our Kind

Past the red-striped tents, you’ll see
A place of wonder, dazzling
Where the wretch’d alone roam free.

“Have a look!” he shouts to me
“Most truly horrifying!”
Past the red-striped tents, you’ll see.

Madmen grin so easily
Behind masks they are hiding
Where the wretch’d alone roam free.

On display, the world will see
The locked and barely living.
Past the red-striped tents, you’ll see.

In cages, they seem to be
Mocked and forever hurting
Where the wretch’d alone roam free.

This was never meant to be.
Our hearts are black and burning.
Past the red-striped tents, you’ll see
Where the wretch’d alone roam free.

Paige’s Pages: A Literary Work #3

“No Title.”

Blue Bus Stop 2

Photo credit: uketeecee

Night had just reached the tips of the horizon as I arrived at one of those dusty glass bus stop enclosures. The brisk night air was just cold enough to make my body wrack with tiny shivers. And there I was, thinking the bus must be late, despite the white numbers on my phone assuring I was early.

Looks like someone left a keychain on the worn wooden bench. As I stared and wondered if they’d really miss it, more people showed up. The stop was now a gathering place for groups of two, probably all on their way out to some party where they’d drink and shout at other twosomes until they couldn’t anymore. I was taking notes on my phone.

The bus to the restaurant arrived and the lights on the inside glowed like a traveling beacon of a guaranteed good night. I was squished between a significant number of men in cheap cologne and a few girls in tight jeans – must’ve been too cold for tight skirts. My laptop leaned precariously on my knees as I struggled to keep it upright and out of the lap of the guy in the peacoat next to me. Some talker in a leather jacket was informing the three guys surrounding him about this certain fish that tastes like steak. I’m a vegetarian.

Creamy tomato soup: one of the few marked non-meat meals at Panera and that night’s dinner of choice.  A woman’s cackling laugh drowned out the clanking from the kitchen as I sat down to write. Some pseudo-couple next to me talked about quitting a job.  A single mom ignored her daughter as she ran off to the pointless wrought-iron handrail in the middle of the restaurant while I peered across at the elderly man seated in front of me.

He was alone too. His fingertips tapped against the edge of his generically-yellow coffee mug, a golden wedding band snug on his ring finger. He finished his food, but wouldn’t leave. Meanwhile, Boyfriend tells Girlfriend, “You can’t let him control you like that. You need to decide if this is worth it or not.”

Elderly Man folded his napkin up into a tight little square before pressing it to his wrinkled lips. He broke from staring out into the dark night and we made eye contact for the briefest of moments. I smiled, contemplating the softness of my baguette and the comparative alone-ness of Elderly Man and myself. Boyfriend said not to “base your life on someone else’s perception of you.”  I thought that was good advice.

Elderly Man slowly gathered up his things to leave as someone pulled up in a shiny black Volvo, their headlights piercing through the window and into me. I took my turn looking out into the night, and I knew through the darkness and glass that Mystery Driver could see right through me. And that gaze stuck in my chest as I willed myself to see past the tinted windows and the glossy sheen of midnight blue and the spotlight of headlights cast only on me. And it hurt.

And as the car pulled away and I pulled away, I turned back to the blinking line on the glaring white screen and began to write.

Moderately Meditated: Ready to Write?

“One thing that I did start to do at this time was writing stories and sending them off to the magazines I so adored. This was the one thing in my life that I did without considering payment; all I wanted was the thrill of seeing my name in print. I ransacked my imagination for romantic tales of good-looking heroes and beautiful women and frequently stayed up writing late into the night, eating Cadbury’s chocolate sandwich biscuits (which, like all biscuits, tasted especially good after midnight) with Marina the guinea pig snuggled into the crook of my arm. I had some letters back from friendly enough editors, all saying that they liked my style, but that I was not quite right for their magazine, and perhaps I could send them something when my writing had matured? At the time, I felt rather stung by this, but a few months later, when I wrote a story that came right from my heart and onto the page, I realized how right they had been. But I am going too far ahead.”

Books to be returned...

This excerpt from the book I’m currently reading (The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice), like any good piece of writing, made me question myself.

Am I ready to write?

And like any good writer, I have no idea. I can certainly look back on my previous work and see how far I’ve come, but I haven’t the faintest idea of what I am capable of at this moment. It’s difficult to see one’s own writing for what it truly is when immersed in the process of it all. In this way, I’m a terrible judge of my own abilities.

How do writers then finally decide when their work is up to par? When will it be ready to publish? I don’t think writers ever really know for sure.

Really, writing is all about trial and error. You try, and when you err, you learn and try again. You can only edit a piece for so long before you start to destroy everything it once was, but at some point, you just have to be happy enough with your work to send it out for others to decide. When that point is…well that’s up to you.

Like the character in this book, you can only really know how ready your work is once someone else has looked at it. That means you have to buck up and send it, possibly get rejected, and then you either fix it or send it to someone else (some publishers might judge your readiness differently). All you can do is keep trying, keep writing, and don’t give up. That’s when you’ll be ready.