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

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.