I often get requests from people who have a collection of stories, or spent months writing a tale and are now unsure of what the next step is.
The first thing you need to do is, give your story to a child. Even if you do stick figures for the illustrations, or whatever, if the child doesn’t get it, then you know you need to go back to the drawing board. The second thing you need to decide is: do I want to publish through a publishing house, or do you want to self-publish?
If you want to publish through a publishing house then I suggest doing a bit of research on the internet as well as checking other children books that you think are similar to your own story and see who they published with. Go to those publishing houses websites and see what their submission guidelines are (it’s usually somewhere on the website). Check if they take manuscripts from authors, or if they only accept through agents. If you want to be published in the UK and USA – most of these publishing houses only take from agents. Here in South Africa, however, they are usually open to accepting straight from the author. If you are interested in getting an agent, then I suggest doing a bit of research in this area. Check who other authors are using, compile a list and then submit to them. Read more
So many illustrators often fill their blog with waffles about what they did during the day (went down to the post office, had a coffee) as well as starting off their post with “Sorry it’s been so long, but I’ve been busy”
Toss all of that out your window and think, what is it you would want to read about.
As a creative, as an illustrator, what are things that draw you? Do you want other illustrators to read your work? What audience are you attracting?
In Pink Camels and Floating Grannies I stayed away from having a villain type character. The story was based around Monkey’s grandparents coming to visit and spending the weekend with her, so I didn’t feel like it needed a direct conflict character. It was more a series of family events that everyone could relate to (well – at least a little). My grandmother was a main character and she created a lot of explosive interactions which I felt was enough. The feedback I have been getting from children who have/are reading my story confirmed that I was correct. They are all adequately embarrassed about my Grandmother.
In the second book, my feeling are a little different. In this book, my focus is around Monkey and her friends as they embark on a school camp. All my favourite teachers will be there, including Mrs Pelliot and maybe even Mr Trousers. I have also included a new teacher, Mr Mefer, who is the gym teacher (with a large moustache, of course). During the trip to their camp, Monkey, her friends and Mr Mefer stop for a lunch at a petrol station.
It was at this point that I felt like something needed to happen. I stopped writing.
I didn’t know what needed to happen. Did Mr Mefer relate an interesting story? Did something happen at the gas station? Did something happen to the Kombi they were driving in? I let these ideas float around in my head as I carried on my day.
At 5:30am on Sunday, my youngest cat – Gandalf – started scratching at the bedroom door wanting to get out, which my husband does. Of course then I am now awake. I could toss and turn till a decent hour, but that’s just going to irritate everybody. It then hits me.
Celeste: Hi Michelle! First of all, thanks so much for chatting to me. Can you just tell everyone a little about yourself to kick off?
Michelle: Hi Celeste! Thanks so much for having me. I am a freelance writer and have been in the publishing industry for over a decade now. I have surrounded myself with authors and books and writing my whole life. I have recently started to join my 3 passions which are writing, books and depression. The last bit sounds weird, but you will be amazed at how many authors and creative people battle with depression on a daily basis. So, as you will see in the image below, I have found ways to join my skills and interests into a really fantastic career. Read more