In this six-part series titled Writing Your Own Book, I will take you through everything from: finding your genre, structuring ideas, the revision process, submitting to publishing houses, and even how to get famous once your work is published. I will be focusing on Children’s lit because I am a published author in that field but I believe the information in this series will be beneficial for any aspiring author in any genre.
Part One- Finding Yourself as a Writer
When getting to know someone, my favorite questions to ask is, “What is your favorite book?” Often times I get the whole, “Oh Gosh… there are so many good books out there, I couldn’t pick just one,” or “I haven’t read a book in years.” I usually have more in common with the former.
I always push the undecided to name a few titles or authors because if you really want to understand a person, you must first understand what moves them. You are what you read. A few books I always tatter off when the question is inevitably turned to me are, East of Eden by John Stienbeck, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by John Klassen, anything by Mini Grey and of course, the fabulous Candy Monster by Brian and Kristin Anderson.
For me, the journey to publish my first book started with getting to know my favorite books. What was it that spoke to me? What did I get lost in?
So my first tip for writing a book is to know who you are, what you love, and what you read. I’ve always been a collector of Children’s books, I took a big box of them with me to college and would read them to my roommates when a boy would break up with them. I found them almost sacred. I often got more comfort out of “Oh the places you’ll go!” then I did scripture.
Once you know what you love and what genres draw you in, read them more. Once my children were born, I had a great excuse to check out 30+ children’s books a week from the library. When you start reading that many books you notice pretty quickly that NOT all children’s books are created equally. I read all the bestsellers, noticed their similarities, and found many non-bestselling books that felt like classics to me. I also read a lot of dumb books. I learned from both.
Goodreads changed the way we do books. If you are not familiar with Goodreads and you are an aspiring author, it’s time you were introduced. It’s a website that is like Pandora, for books. It’s brilliant. The suggestions get better and better and it’s just down-right enjoyable to read more books that speak to you without wading through as many of the I-can’t-believe-this-got-published kind of books.
The more you read, the more you’ll know. Brian spent nearly a decade studying in graduate creative programs, and this is essentially the program of study that every professor suggested; Study your favorite books deeply, who is the narrator? What is the story arc? At what point in the arc does the book start? What is explicitly told to the reader? What is left for the reader to assume? What is the word count? Do the illustrations tell more of the story or do the words? Does it have a “message” or is it mainly fun?
Once you know what kind of book you want to write you can begin because you must first know yourself as a reader before you can begin a successful start as a writer.
So Candy House fans, I must ask, “What’s your favorite book?”
Stay tuned for Part Two of this series- Writing Your Own Book- Idea to Outline: Structuring Your Book