Katie Bieker

Author – Science, Environment, Travel, Children's Books

18 Days and a Dozen Questions

I have now been an “author” and “blogger” for 18 days. Thanks for welcoming me to your world and selling me real estate. I do plan to stay. I have learned a boatload, but have at least as many questions as answers.

  1. For starters, I’ve read several times now that agents and publishes perusing blogs don’t like seeing “gee I wanna be” stuff. They want a professional, confident tone. “I am an author.” “This is my work.” But that feels weird. What is the definition of author? Am I an author just because I write stuff? Even though I have zero writing education, no experience and am unpublished? Well, for now, until I’m told otherwise, I’ll think, act and write myself into the job title. That seems the most self-assured thing to do under the circumstances. Also, is “blogger” a word?
  2. Another issue of self-consciousness: Am I really supposed to write my bio in 3rd person? Should I write my blog “about me” in 3rd person too? Because that seems really conceded and lame…
  3. So much debate about self-publishing! I’ve already resolved to start with an eBook just to get something with my name on it out into the wild. But after that… if I write something pretty good, I’d rather see it in print. And I think print is by far better for kids’ minds, for bonding with their reader, the whole tactile experience… everything. So when it’s time to commit it to paper (or board) is there any chance I could make it publishing on my own? At first I pictured myself with a couple hundred copies in a VW Microbus toodling all about trying to peddle my wares to bookstores… not going to happen. I’m a full time mom and employee. But then I read some interesting stuff about the world of online sales and marketing. You can pay a little chunk to web people to get your product out there and still get far more percent from the sales then if you went through an agent and publisher. But that seems so… I dunno… cold and new school.
  4. So Old School. Because, well, we all know there’s nothing like it. But then, how long do I try to find an agent before self-publishing? Do I give it 50 submissions? 100? Then what if I want to self-publish and look for an agent? Is an agent going to shy away from someone who’s already doing their own thing?
  5. I really want to carry around this little blank-paper journal that I’ve been using to jot down ideas when I’m not in front of the computer… but I don’t like carrying a bag. At least not a big one. I have a very small purse just with cards and my… Ya know, I guess this one is really my problem and not yours.
  6. Oh my God, what if I find an agent!? I’ve seen lots of good resources to check ondozen questions the validity of agents. But how do I really know? Just when I decided I’d pursue agents with lots of publications, I hear that I should actually shoot for a new, young agent. Apparently they’ll have less on their plate and will bust ass for me whereas an experienced agent with lots of clients would leave a newbie like me at the bottom of the priority list. So is that true? How do I know the agent is a good one?
  7. How do I get professional feedback? Where do you find professional editors and beta readers? Who will be qualified and willing to proof a query letter or two?
  8. What tools can I use to do some market research? What kinds of kids’ books are being published? What’s selling? How much do I charge for a kids’ eBook? I know what my own kids like to read and what I like to read to them. But am I capable of writing something that good and, if so, is that what’s selling? It confuses me that I find more copies of “Pinkalicious” on the shelf than “Make Way for Ducklings”.
  9. How are you reading blogs and managing your own at red lights, on the toilet and while you wait for your server to bring the check without draining your cell battery? This is a real challenge. I do occasionally need my phone to be charged for actual phone calls.
  10. Formatting my blog. These are probably stupid questions, but I stress about them nonetheless. Should I stick in pictures? If so, how big? These kids’ books have very few words and are frequently poems or choppy sentence fragments. Obviously these lines would be on individual pages of a book. But, on my blog, do I write them in a paragraph?/ With dashes like these indicating breaks?/ Like a poem? / Or do I hit enter? When I do, the auto formatting is putting big nasty spaces between the lines that are driving me crazy. I’ve been trying to format in Word, Wordpad, I’ve converted to rtf and studied the html raw… I can’t get the spaces out!!! Argh!
  11. Can I use brand names in writing? Can the character in my novel work at McDonalds and shop at Walmart? In Baking Cookies, that’s an M&M cookie recipe.  Right before I got to the part where she stirs in the colorful bits of candy-coated bliss I chickened out because of branding and changed it to chocolate chips. Well, damn. That recipe makes a really great M&M cookie.
  12. How’s my content? Is it OK to put entire “books” on here? It’s pretty hard to post excerpts of a 100 word piece… What if I want to draw attention back to an earlier writing? Should I repost the whole thing or just reference it with a link? And does it make my blog look unprofessional to reblog and do “10 questions about you” kinds of things? Or does that serve a real marketing purpose?

There are your dozen questions for Valentine’s day. They have no thorns and don’t need water. You don’t have to be my sweetheart for life; but if you answer one of my questions, I will make you one of those chocolate chip/M&M cookies.

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2 comments on “18 Days and a Dozen Questions

  1. keladelaide
    February 13, 2013

    Hi Katie, I have nothing for you but would love to hear from others as I’m keen to know the answers to some of your questions too.

  2. slepsnor
    February 13, 2013

    1. Blogger is a word and I think you should say what you’re comfortable saying. An agent and publisher should be looking at your work instead of your confidence, which can always be bolstered by an offer of a publishing contract.
    2. I had the same problem, but apparently it’s how it’s supposed to be done. I was told that the author bio on a book tends to be written by a third person who is given information by the author, which is why it’s the preferred perspective.
    3. If you publish through Amazon Kindle, they have an agreement with Createspace. This company does physical book version of your e-books, but I don’t know if they can do board books.
    4. An agent might actually be impressed with someone who does something on their own, especially if they see that the product is already selling. It’s a point that they can use to get you into a publishing company because you’re ‘proven’. You could always say you self-published to get a feel for the business and test the waters.
    5. Uh . . . I got nothing. Maybe a small moleskin notebook for your pocket?
    6. Again, I got nothing. Just do your research before saying yes. A newer agent will probably work harder because they’re fighting for success as much as you are.
    7. See if any children’s book authors have contact info and email than to ask if they’d be willing to give you feedback. It’s a scary tactic, but even if they say no, you might get some tips.
    8. Talk to a children’s librarian or an elementary school teacher. As for price, a lot of people start with .99 cents to get attention and raise the price when the initial rush is over.
    9. Car charger?
    10. I’m just learning pictures and they do help. I would try to use at least one picture in your posts to give it some color. That preview post button is very helpful when learning this.
    11. I don’t believe brand names are allowed without permission from the company. They could see it as you trying to make money off their name, which is something illegal that I forget the name of.
    12. You can post the book in sections and it would neater to use a link back to the previous section. Or you can make the book its own category for people to click on to see everything. As for the 10 questions about you and other awards, it does help bring in more followers and views. I’m not sure how an agent or publisher would feel about it though.

    My wife says I can’t have the cookie. 😦

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This entry was posted on February 12, 2013 by in All Work and tagged , , , , , , , .

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