‘The most important thing you can do is write a stunning manuscript.’
– Agent, Catherine Drayton, Inkwell Management
This is true for all writers. Write a stunning manuscript. That is the goal.
But once you’ve written it, what then? Beyond the ‘great story well told’, what does it take to earn a living as a children’s author, to turn your creative work into a job?
The old model of the writer working alone in a cabin in the woods and sending their manuscript off to a publisher who will promote and share it no longer exists. The writer is now expected to partner with the publisher and support their own work, finding fresh ways to re-tell their story online and in live events, to invite people to experience the story in multiple ways.
This sounds suspiciously like hard work. And it is. The balance between creativity and ‘business’ as a children’s author is delicate and difficult to strike. We are, by nature, playful creatures and feel much more at home searching for dragons in the clouds than projecting income and expenditure and managing multiple writing projects across Education and Trade markets while developing an online presence and speaking in fifty schools a year. It often requires longer hours than a ‘real’ job with no super or holiday pay as a safety net.
Sharing stories and inspiring kids to read and create is a deeply satisfying and, I think, useful thing to do for the world. With the right strategies in place it is possible to walk the line between business and creativity and to build a satisfying career as a children’s author.
On 8/9 December I will be running my two-day intensive workshop, ‘Writing for the Children’s Market’ at the NSW Writer’s Centre. It is a fun and information-packed weekend of creative play and practical insight into making a living telling stories for kids. Hope you can come along.