Here’s a pep talk that I hope encourages you today as a writer. I found it from several years ago on my blog, so I’m posting it today as an Oldie But Goodie:
As writers, it’s very easy to get discouraged. As writers of alphabet books or picture books in general, we have to come to terms with the fact that we’re trying to break into the toughest market in the industry. Why is it so tough? Two main reasons. The first is that the competition is fierce because everyone–from the postal worker to the grocery clerk to your very own grandmother wants to write a picture book. Why? Because of the second reason–these books are full color and beautifully illustrated which happens to make them the most expensive book of all for publishers to produce and the most pricey book of all for consumers to purchase.
So if you’re dedicated to writing picture books and alphabet books and fully illustrated books, here’s a survival tip to keep you going and keep you from quitting or dropping out of the race altogether:
Write for 2-3 no-pay or low-pay markets so that you’re getting published on a steady basis throughout the year. I mean, even when I landed my contract to write my alphabet book, D is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet, it took nearly 3 years to finally see the book in print. First I had to write it. Then they had to find an illustrator for it. Then E.B. Lewis had to paint the pictures. Then they had to print it. All this took a lot of time. If it was the only manuscript I was getting published in all that time, I would have gotten very discouraged as a writer.
But I didn’t! In between book contracts and all throughout my days, weeks, months, and years of writing, I also write for no-pay and low-pay markets on a steady basis. The perks far outweigh the cash. I develop friendships with the editors I work with. These editors supply tons of kudos and positive feedback! I get validated over and over and over again with a steady stream of publications. And these add up nicely on my list of published credits. I feel like a writer because I’m constantly working within the world of a writer.
Here are just a few of the no-pay and low-pay markets I have written for over the years:
puzzles for kids’ magazines
book reviews for magazines
local school writing projects
The list could go on and on. I’ve accumulated hundreds of credits with no-pay or low-pay markets over the years.
So for my pep talk today on my blog, I want to encourage you to do the same. While you’re working so hard to write a book manuscript, sit down every couple of days or so and just write a short article and send it in to a no-pay or low-pay market that you’re practically guaranteed to get accepted. Local community magazines, online freebie magazines, Sunday School take home papers, small unknown publishers… Start building relationships with these editors to guarantee a steady accumulation of published credits. Forget about the pay–the experience and the validation as a writer are worth much more than anyone can pay you right now. Start today and make it your goal to get published in these markets on a regular basis. It will help you keep on writing and working toward your goal of landing a book contract.