The last five months, I have been on a fabulous middle grade binge. I love so many of the titles that have been recommended to me, but I can honestly say I was blown away by Kathryn Erskine's Mockingbird and how genius it was. Having had my life touched by individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, I was immediately fascinated by the book's protagonist. While faced with the challenge of learning the emotional cues of those around her, the main character is catapulted into an intensely emotional situation with the tragic death of a family member. Winner of the National Book Award, Mockingbird is an essential read in that it will allow its audience a glimpse into the lives of people with Autistic Spectrum Disorders and those who love them.
I am so honored to host today's featured author, Kathryn Erskine. =)
Hi, Elizabeth and all!
What a great idea to capture banana peel moments because it’s true that we often learn more from our failures than our successes. My first book was a litany of lessons because I was relatively new to the writing experience and, honestly, in the late ‘90’s and early 2000’s there wasn’t as much information online about craft and publishing as there is now. So … here’s the list of mistakes:
1. Publishing with PublishAmerica. Wow! They wanted my book and I’d received rejections from some of the major publishers. It wasn’t a vanity press (it didn’t cost me anything and I did make tiny royalties, probably from my wonderful sister, who bought many copies) but there were drawbacks: NO editing, NO distribution, and NO publicity. Nowadays, of course, you can publish your book electronically and, if you have existing readers, a good social media presence, or a lot of bloggers lined up to promote you, you could be successful.
2. Choosing a title no one could pronounce. I thought it was cool to use Ibhubesi, a Zulu word for lion, but if people are too embarrassed to ask for it by name because they don’t want to stand there stumbling over “I--boo…? Ib-hoo…?” it’s better to pick something else. I did, at least, subtitle it “The Lion,” but still.
3. Choosing a different name. Sure, if you want to write in different genres and have a nom de plume for each, that’s fine, but if you’re writing for the same market, think hard about how you’re presenting your name now, and for the future. I’d heard that my book might be more marketable if it was not gender specific, i.e., boys might be more likely to read it if it wasn’t written by a girl. I don’t actually believe that but, as I mentioned, I was a newbie. My initials are “K.D.” but since that could sound like “Katie,” I switched it to D.K. I’ve spent the past eight years explaining why. :o)
Generally, I’d say to learn all you can about the craft and business--easy to do with classes, writers’ groups, and online chat and writing sites. Writers are a friendly community and we love to help each other -- like Elizabeth here! Thanks, again!