Cynthia Reeg, welcome to the blog! Cynthia is the author of the spooky middle grade novels FROM THE GRAVE and INTO THE SHADOWLANDS.
First things first, Cynthia, enjoy a complimentary coffee on the house. Now sit back…close your eyes and…step inside the Baby Author Me Time Machine.
We’re heading all the way back to the day after you sold your first book. Remember the joy, the celebrations with friends, the cake? Oh, so much cake. If only you had known the trials and tribulations to come.
Now imagine that you could sit down with Baby Author You and offer her some sage advice. What do you wish you would have known? What would you have absolutely avoided? What did you spend weeks worrying about that ended up being no big deal?
The wee Baby Authors of the world need your words of wisdom. So let’s dive in!
What would you tell Baby Author You about…
Book promotion: It’s pretty much non-stop from the moment you become a serious writer. Yep, even before there is a book! You need to create a website and start connecting with authors, teachers, librarians, editors, and agents on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. You need to join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators to meet all of the people mentioned above—as well as learn how to both write and promote your book. Once you do have a contract, be sure to join an authors’ group—I was in the Sweet Sixteens debut group and am now part of the Spooky Middle Grade authors. In these groups, you’ll share marketing info and join together for promotional ventures like Skype visits, conference panels, book giveaways, and so much more. Be creative with your promotions. Look for local tie-ins. Make yourself known to local bookstores and libraries. Get the word out about school visits. Do your best but don’t wear yourself out because you need to keep writing!
Book blurbs: As I mentioned above, I joined numerous groups along the way, so when it was time to ask for book blurbs, I was fortunate to be in good company. Many of my Sweet Sixteen friends offered lovely blurbs and reviews. Remember though, be generous with your time and reviews/blurbs of others books as well. It’s true that in giving we receive. I did also reach out to a couple of celebrity authors who I met for blurbs, but those didn’t pan out. Your publisher may also solicit blurbs for you, but I’d advise you to be an advocate for yourself on garnering book blurbs. I don’t know that the blurbs are instrumental in bumping up sales, but they are lovely on (and perhaps) inside your book for browsing readers. I also used one or two on bookmarks.
Writing first drafts: First drafts are like climbing a mountain. At first your idea is like the glorious peak you see in what seems the not-too-far distance and you set out with light feet (and speedy fingers.) But the more you hike, the steeper the mountain becomes. You get lost along the way numerous times and have to backtrack. You run out of water and energy and enthusiasm and you stumble across the skeletal remains of an earlier hiker (okay, so it was only a sickly cow. But you get the idea.) Somehow though—usually with the unending help/support/advice of your amazing critique group—you continue on, until the wind-blown summit is underfoot and you type “THE END.”
Whew!!! Your story is awesome! It’s unbelievable! It’s breathtaking … and then it’s time to start revising.
Words of advice: Be persistent. Believe in yourself but keep asking for help. Celebrate each milestone along the way.
Friends and family: I am probably one of the luckiest children’s authors I know in that I’ve had nothing but strong support and encouragement from so many family and friends. If your family isn’t supportive, look elsewhere for support. Carve out time for your writing. Find other children’s authors or close friends who realize how important this venture is to you. For me, writing is pretty much like breathing. I don’t know how I’d survive for long without it. Find a support group who understands that and it will make all the difference in helping you achieve your writing goals. Most of all—enjoy the journey!
Cynthia Reeg, an intrepid librarian, ventured from behind the book stacks to contend with quirky characters and delightful dilemmas in her very own picture books and middle grade novels. While she has had her share of worldly adventures—fishing for piranhas in the Amazon, climbing the Great Wall of China, and white water rafting in New Zealand—she grew up in the Midwest and now splits her time between Missouri and Florida. Cynthia enjoys tennis, hiking, reading, and hanging out with her family. For more information, visit www.cynthiareeg.com.