Crushed.

snail

I spent a lot of time this weekend sorting things into piles. I have 6 or more of my own projects going and I’m trying to prioritize them and come up with some deadlines for when I would like them finished. With that comes the tough choices. Which ones will I actually finish? Which ones will likely die in a box in my studio? And what will they be? It can be hard to be objective because I love them all. Some just aren’t meant to be and some might just need to sit out of sight for awhile so I can come back to them with a new perspective. It can be hard to be realistic about your work. Everyone is looking for that one big idea, but often it’s actually a lot of little ideas and not all of them get to grow up.

 

 

One of the first big rules that you learn when going to children’s book conferences is that if you are going to submit your work to publishers then you need to be ready for a lot of rejection. If you are lucky enough to hear anything be prepared for it to be the word no over and over and over again. A lot of times you might not hear anything at all. If you are extremely lucky you might hear a maybe, but most likely with that maybe will come a long list of changes, which can also feel like rejection. It can be very crushing.

Every SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference I have ever been to has been incredibly inspiring and encouraging. It is typically a very safe space where they encourage you to just keep at it. That’s lovely, but to do that you have to develop a pretty thick skin and on top of that a good sense or realism. I think they could stand to talk more about being realistic. You need to be able to take a step back and look at your work and judge it without bias. Does it hold up? Is it in the realm of good enough? Am I willing to change it enough to be appealing to the masses?

Sometimes the answer to those questions will be no. The book project I’m working on now is something pretty personal to me. It’s a bit sappy and maybe a bit cliche. I know this, but I want to pursue it anyways and I’m not really willing to hand over control of it to anyone else. I also really want to experiment my way through the illustrations without guidance from an art director. It is a project I need to do alone. So for that project I know I’m heading for the tough path of self-publishing and I’m okay with that. I know it won’t have the reach that it would with a traditional publisher. I know I won’t make a ton of money off of it. Having done the self-publishing thing before though I am fairly confident that I can sell enough copies to break even. It will have a pretty strong appeal to moms. I’m also blessed with a lot of family and friends that support me and the work I do. And if nothing else I know it could be a great portfolio piece if I take my time and do it well. I’m excited to see what I make of it on my own. I have another project that I have just started that I think would be more marketable to a traditional publisher and I’m excited to start pitching it.

If you keep working and developing multiple projects it’s easier not to get crushed by the industry. If one isn’t working then set it aside and come back to it later with fresh eyes. Not every project is the same and they can’t all take the same path. This is the kind of realism I find necessary in this business. Know your work. Know the industry. Know where they come together. A lot of people know how tough traditional publishing can be, but really self-publishing is just as hard. It’s getting easier with new technology and ebooks. It’s getting more excepted as some larger publishers are seeing the benefit in partnering with printing companies. A lot of people go into with really high hopes of being discovered, but self-marketing is really hard. SCBWI has some great resources for self-publishing authors if you are just starting out. I also really recommend checking out a conference. On top of all of the valuable knowledge to be found there it is really comforting to be surrounded by other people who are in the trenches as well.

If you keep working and developing multiple projects it’s easier not to get crushed by the industry. If one isn’t working then set it aside and come back to it later with fresh eyes.Not every project is the same and they can’t all take the same path. This is the kind of realism I find necessary in this business. Know your work. Know the industry. Know where they come together. A lot of people know how tough traditional publishing can be, but really self-publishing is just as hard. It’s getting easier with new technology and ebooks. It’s getting more excepted as some larger publishers are seeing the benefit in partnering with printing companies. A lot of people go into with really high hopes of being discovered, but self-marketing is really hard. SCBWI has some great resources for self-publishing authors if you are just starting out. I also really recommend checking out a conference. On top of all of the valuable knowledge to be found there it is really comforting to be surrounded by other people who are in the trenches as well.

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