Lessons from Gertie Saves the Day could fill a notebook or two. Hard as it is to believe, it has been a year since Gertie Saves the Day was published. This has been an exciting year launching and marketing my first picture book. It has been a both a journey and an adventure. Gertie helped me to launch my career as a children’s book author. I did not realize when I wrote the book that there’s so much more to learn about being a children’s book author.
Writing is typically a solo endeavor, but finding a community of writers that support each other can be a great source of inspiration and encouragement. Groups of writers can offer a supportive environment of like-minded people who share a passion for telling stories. A writing group is a circle of people who meet regularly to read, discuss, and critique one another’s work. Group members offer constructive feedback to help their peers improve their stories. A writing group can be an in-person gathering, or participants might convene online. I met some wonderful picture book writers who have helped me to become a stronger more confident writer. Picture book writers are the friendliest and most supportive group I have ever met!
I have learned to trust myself as an author. Trust is the toughest step to success. There is always that little voice in your head telling you that your story is not good enough. I worry am I telling too much? Am I telling too little? Am I following all of the rules for writing a picture book? I have learned to trust my story and my readers. Trust is fundamental to the relationship between the writer and the reader. Writers need to trust the reader and the reader, in return, should trust the author.
Picture book writing is not a competition among authors. When my book was first published I was concerned that I was not selling enough copies of my book. Others were selling more books while I was not. One of the lessons from Gertie Saves the Day is it is not about how many books we sell or who has a better book. Comparing yourself to other writers is not a great practice. I would often worry about not spending enough time writing. Everyone in the writing group was spending hours a day writing and I was not. Writing is a craft and the only competition should be with yourself to become a better writer.
Disappointment is part of being an author. I needed to learn that being disappointed does not mean I am a bad writer or my story is not good enough. It might not be right for that agent or that publisher. Rejections, silence and those not so glowing reviews are all part of being an author. You can look at it as a defeat, or you can decide to take a second look at the story to see if there’s room for improvement.
After you have launched your book you think about “What’s next?” For a year or more you have been focused on your book. While there is still plenty of work to be done after your book launch. I realized that something was missing. I was missing my writing. Over the past year I have written more than 15 drafts of stories. Will they all become books, probably not, but hopefully some of them will become books. Writing is what I love to do and I have found the more I write the better my writing becomes.
Take a Shot
On my desk I have a hockey puck and in large gold letters it reads TAKE A SHOT! This is a lesson I incorporated into Gertie Saves the Day – “Gertie closed her eyes and took the shot.” That sums up this year. I am glad that I decide to take a shot. Gertie Saves the Day has been well received and I am proud of the fact that Gertie has won two awards. Applying for those awards is another example of taking a shot. Most importantly, I am proud of those who have bought the book, read the book and shared the book with children.
There you have it, lessons from Gertie Saves the Day. I am sure there will be more lessons to be learned along my journey as a picture book author, especially with the launch of the new book, Two Wins for Wiley, on October 18th.
I am so glad you’re here and so grateful that I can share my writing journey with you.
I’m looking forward to helping you as a children’s book writer in any way that I can. Speaking of helping — please leave a comment below and let me know what questions you have about picture book writing. This will help me to tailor my posts to your needs.
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