I’ll be honest and say, I’m outside of my comfort zone writing a piece about children’s authors. I suffer from imposter syndrome at the best of times, so when this came up the pressure to write the perfect piece, has had me squirming in my seat. I’ve written a couple of children’s picture books myself, which were very much inspired by my daughters. Dipping my toe in the water, I sent them out to two literary agents earlier in the year and with no response, the books are now just another motionless file on my computer. Sure, picture books are fun and easier to write, which of course means publishers are inundated with submissions. So I didn’t take it personally but I still haven’t done anything with them since. That is until recently reaching out on a Facebook group for advice. And I believe that is how we ended up here.
With the option to self-publish now more readily available, the days of dog eat dog publishing are coming to an end. Whilst small and independent publishers such as Tiny Owl and Lantana, are creating a space on the book shelf for diverse and inclusive stories. In recent years, I’ve noticed a rise in quirky indie authors, particularly in children’s fiction. With market research being at the heart of what we do, I thought I’d do a little background research of my own and find out what it takes to become a published children’s author.
Having grown up in South Africa, surrounded by great storytellers, beautiful landscapes, and wild animals, it’s safe to say that SJ Molver (aka Shannon), was inspired from a young age. From the sound of her grandmother tapping on her typewriter, to the embellished stories of bravery and adventure her father would tell her; Shannon had all the tools she needed to write with magic and imagination. Now settled in the U.K. with a daughter of her own, her book ‘Sid and Biscuit bear‘, is available to purchase on etsy. Written and Illustrated by SJ Molver.
‘Find your inner child and hang onto her (or him). Practically, surround yourself with a network of people whom you know can help, speak to children but more importantly, hear their reply. Read every day. Write from the heart and never give up’. (SJ Molver)
From a young age Jo Burke liked to write poetry. Today she has written and published four children’s books, with husband and illustrator Philip Price, and one adult’s comedy book named ‘iScream’. With a desire to create classic children’s books that celebrate inclusion and diversity, Jo’s intention is to bring a smile to your face. And the response she has had from her books she has found most rewarding.
‘I simply do what I love and hope others love it too. Ultimately, if you are over the moon with what you’ve produced, then, in my opinion, that’s enough. I write for my own sanity and just hope it brings a smile to others.’ (Jo Burke)
The discovery of a medieval l shield in a stream at the age of 10, was the spark of inspiration for CJ Bentley, author of ‘The Finder Series’. The time-travel adventure series brings to life true historical events through the magic of children’s fiction. The well travelled author, has spent lots of time teaching in schools and began her venture by sharing the manuscript of her first book with some of her pupils. Needless to say the response was fantastic, having now published four books, with another three in the pipeline.
‘To anyone who thinks they have a book inside them is to sit down and get it out. They will suffer lots of self doubt if they try to get it published but self publishing is out there and can work and lots of good children’s authors are taking to it’. (CJ Bentley)
Having always known she wanted to be a writer, it wasn’t until Nikki Young had children of her own, that she remembered where her love of books had stemmed from. The middle grade fiction writer, has now published three children’s books and also runs a creative writing club for kids, known as Storymakers. Tapping into the children’s world of creativity, the weekly groups and holiday workshops are designed to build confidence in the young writers, in a fun and enjoyable way.
‘I self-published my first book, The Mystery of the Disappearing Underpants and then I did the same with the first Time School book before it was picked up by Hashtag Press and re-released as a second edition in March this year, followed by Book 2 in July’.
Whilst self-publishing appears to be the more accessible option, it requires dedication, money and the time needed to get the book out there. Trying to find a literary agent to represent your work, may seem easier but can be disheartening in the long run, if you don’t get the response you’re looking for. So, whether you’re submitting your books to a publishing agent or self-publishing, ultimately persistence pays. What is your favourite childhood book? Mine is ‘Mister Magnolia’. If would like to feature in a future edition of our Spotlight blog, please email me at Hayley@gopodengo.com.
Thank you x