Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Not-so-secret Secrets to Success

Week of May 8, 2011—An Interview with Lisa Wheeler
Wednesday, May 11—Not-so-secret Secrets to Success

This is the second installment of a three-part interview with picture book author, Lisa Wheeler.

ROB: Lisa, we’ve all heard that the best way for beginning authors to learn to write is to read, read, read. What is the second most helpful way you discovered to learn and grow as a writer?

LISA: Network. Never underestimate the power of other people. I don’t mean networking in a bad way, like pushing your manuscript under a stall door for an editor. I mean it in a good way, like getting to know other children’s writers—both published and unpublished. Great things can happen! Critique groups form, information is shared, books are exchanged, you hear about a conference you never knew about. Your new friend shares a how-to book title that has just the nugget you needed to break through a block. It’s all about being open to everyone. You never know what can happen when you meet someone new.

If you want your writing to grow and improve, you cannot trust the opinions of your family and friends alone. You need other children’s writers. Network!

ROB: What’s the best writing advice you ever received?

LISA: Be yourself. This has been good advice in every aspect of my writing life, whether it is creating or speaking or answering interview questions! No one has what you have to offer. Believe in yourself.

ROB: In hindsight, what was the advice you needed as a beginning writer that you never received?

LISA: Do your homework before sending things out.

When I began, I was very much alone. I didn’t know about SCBWI. Internet wasn’t anywhere on the radar. I had a copy of Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market and my manuscripts. I didn’t know very much of anything. I sent work out that wasn’t ready. I sent the wrong types of things to the wrong editors. I racked up oodles of rejections—and rightly so! It makes me cringe to recall how green I was. Now, with internet where information is readily available, I hope people are doing their homework before submitting.

1. Visit Lisa’s web site to learn even more.

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