People seem to think that writing and selling a children’s book will be easier than writing a novel (maybe because they’re shorter?). Children’s book author Shelly Roark, however, can testify that that isn’t necessarily the case. Here’s how her book-writing experience played out:
Hi, and thanks for your willingness to appear on my blog! I’m looking forward to sharing your knowledge and advice with the rest of the world (at least with the small portion of it that follows my blog). To start, please tell us what genre do you write? How did you pick it?
I write Christian picture books for children. It picked me! I’ve been working in children’s ministry on and off since I was a teen. One of my favorite things to do is share a simple Biblical truth with kiddos through a story. My “someday dream” was to share those stories with more children. Children’s fiction allows me to do just that.
What are your favorite genres to read? Why?
I actually LOVE to read children’s books myself, whether faith-based or not. Dr. Seuss is one of my favorites. I especially love How the Grinch Stole Christmas! But all of his books make me smile. When my kids were little, we read Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise every night before bed. Our old copy is tattered and torn into pieces now from excessive love. I also loved (and still do) reading Silly Sally by Audrey Wood, mostly because I get to read it in an English accent. And one of the books that makes my heart swell and eyes get misty is The Tale of Three Trees. The book we have is by Angela Elwell Hunt and is a Christmas tradition at our house.
How long did it take you complete your first manuscript (published or not)?
I thought about my first picture book—The Bubble Who Would Not POP!—for a while. But I actually told a version to my kids before I wrote it down. I didn’t write it down at first, but made it up as I was telling the story orally to my three children. I wanted to share it in children’s church and always used them as my guinea pigs. If they sat still while I told the story or lesson, it was a winner. As I introduced them to this special little bubble, they were actually still AND quiet — a bonus! I was just as surprised as my kiddos at how it came out. I wrote it down and used it that Sunday. Later, I tweaked it here and there for fun until it evolved into the current story.
Have your follow-up novels been easier or harder to write? Why do you think that is?
I usually have an idea or two bouncing around in my head. Sometimes it is easy to put them to paper. Other times it takes a while. To me, it is easier when I have a “hook” — a phrase I want the kiddos to remember that I can repeat throughout.
What’s surprised you the most about the book-publishing process?
How much I needed to focus on marketing and creating a “writing family” or base of support. I supposed I just thought it would magically appear on the shelf and people would buy it.
What’s been the most challenging part of getting a book published?
I’m not that great with marketing myself. It’s harder than you think!
What’s your favorite part of the publishing experience?
I squealed with glee when I saw how the illustrator interpreted my little story. It was amazing! She brought my thoughts to life. I love how two creative minds can crash together and something fabulous is born. I also CANNOT WAIT to actually read the book to children with the illustrations in place. Makes me get all smiles and tearey-eyed!
For learning the writing craft, which do you prefer – books or conferences? Why?
Ummmmm … since I write for a living (I’m a fundraising ghostwriter), I’m usually at conferences for that part of my craft. Conferences focused on my children’s writing would be fun. I just haven’t had the pleasure of attending one yet.
If you could recommend one writing conference, what would it be? Why? (If you haven’t attended one, which one would you like to attend? Why?)
I would love to attend any conference really. I’m sure I could learn a lot.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much for letting me be part of your blog! I hope you have a joyful day.
You can connect with Shelly online at:
Shelly’s author website is www.shellyroarkauthor.com
Little Lamb Books is www.littlelambbooks.com
Amazon link to The Bubble Who Would Not POP! By Shelly Roark