Baby Author Me, Writer Interviews, Writing Tips

Lessons for Baby Author Me — Jonathan Roth

This week, I’m excited to welcome Jonathan Roth to the blog and to celebrate the release of a brand-new, special edition of BEEP AND BOB! It features all four books in one! Wow!

Beep and Bob 4 in 1 cover

Author-Illustrator Jonathan Roth is a public elementary school art teacher who lives in Rockville, Maryland, with his wife, two kitties and three or more bicycles. Though Jonathan has never left Earth, he has met four of the astronauts who have gone to the moon. Beep and Bob (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin) is his first series. Learn more at

Now, it’s time for the main event! Are you ready, Jonathan? Let’s step inside the Baby Author Time Machine. Imagine that you could sit down with Baby Author You the day before your book sold and offer him some sage advice on the road to come. What would you have done differently? What words of wisdom are you dying to share?

Over to you, Jonathan!

Book promotion: Think of yourself as a small business and act accordingly. Go on the assumption that unless you have a lead title or special circumstances, your publisher will certainly do some things behind the scenes to help your book(s), but you won’t usually know what they are or how well they’re working. Be prepared to do as much as you’re able yourself and to use some of your advance. Be creative and work to your strengths, push yourself to try some new things and accept that you won’t be able to do everything! Plus your job is also to work on future books. No pressure!

Launch parties: Launch parties are a great way to kick things off and rally your local friends, family, students and colleagues. Prepare well. They’re going to be a blur. Be sure to give thanks to the venue and to anyone involved with your book’s journey.

Reviews: You’re going to care a lot at the outset and seek them out to read; but soon you’ll start to forget about them. Like sales, the only thing you can control is your ability to accept.

Book sales: Don’t obsess (yeah, right). And even if you do, keep in mind you won’t know your actual sales numbers, even when you get a royalty statement (they’re very complicated, and don’t reflect future returns, etc.) and anything you glean from other sources gives a very incomplete picture.

Book signings: Book signings are a fun way to connect with readers, but don’t go too out of your way unless you enjoy it. Focus on events with talks, and team up with others when you can. Attendance at libraries and bookstores can be 25+ if the event is well advertised and in a good location, but be prepared for far fewer.

School visits: School visits are the best! You get to meet tons of eager students and educators. Prepare a really good show (informative, relevant, entertaining, humorous) and tweak it constantly to make it better. Try to partner with a local indie to take care of pre or post sales. (note: I’m a teacher and am very comfortable educating and entertaining students; if talking to hundreds of boisterous kids sounds like a horror to you, it probably will be.)

Revising: You’ve revised and revised to get to this point and you’re going to have to revise and revise and revise before publication. Most of writing is rewriting, but you already know that so you’re good to go!

Critique groups: I can’t imagine doing it without a good, honest, supportive critique group. Plus the better you are at listening to others, the better your chances of making it through the submission, revising and editing processes.

Rejection: It’s a good thing you’re so very practiced at getting rejected, because even after a sale you’re going to get rejected lots more! Not just on future ideas and submissions, but by some book festivals and organizations and media outlets and more. If you can’t stomach the thought of ever more rejection, get out now!

Money (Advance, Royalties, Taxes): You’re not going to make nearly as much as you dreamed (and certainly not as much as people may assume) and you’re going to spend more than you planned. Yay for day jobs!

Final Words of Wisdom: Because you care so much, you’re going to at times feel elated and at times feel defeated. That’s just the cycle. But also because you care so much you’re going to press on no matter what. Follow your passions, you have something very valuable to offer to kids!

Love, love, love!!! Thanks so much Jonathan, and everyone go out and buy the new, super-cool edition of BEEP AND BOB!


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