|After the Debut|
After the debut… By Nicky Schmidt
As a round up to a busy year and a half of Debut Author Interviews, I decided to find out what happened to our authors after that first thrilling experience of becoming a published author.
Has it been all plain sailing or has it been a challenge? Have riches, success and glory followed? What lessons have been learned, what experience gained? I caught up with several authors to find out what life after the debut has been like.
I've had an amazing time since publication. I'll admit, I did fall into a bit of a mental lull after the launch of Othergirl, but I think that has a lot to do with pre-publication hype/nerves/excitement. Getting back to 'normal' life afterwards is a little strange and takes some getting used to.
As I'm writing this I'm just finishing up the edits on book two, which is a sequel, and is due to be published in August 2016. I'm also starting to work on filling up my diary with school visits and events. I made my event debut at the Edinburgh Literary Festival back in August, and have some exciting plans for 2016 that I'm not allowed to talk about yet!
The biggest lesson I've learnt is how much is up to me: without me working, and organising, and writing, and emailing... then the whole process pretty much comes to a halt. There's nobody to do all the work for you, and the business side of things can be difficult if you're not used to motivating yourself, or if you're going through a phase (like I did over the summer!) where self-motivation is a little tough going. It's a lot of pressure, but fortunately I've got a great team at my publishers and with my agent, so I know that if I need a bit of extra support or encouragement then it’s there.
Also, DON'T GO ON GOODREADS. You'll tell yourself that you'll only read the good reviews, but then your eyes gloss over a one-star (and we will all get them, no matter what or who you are) and will dwell there a little longer than intended, and then your whole day is ruined. I use Goodreads to record my own reading, but I do that through the phone app and try to never ever actually use the website.
Since featuring in the debut author series in February, I have launched a second picture book, It’s Raining Bats & Frogs, and sold a poetry collection entitled, Motor Goose. Both of these further books are with Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan US).
I’ve learned loads as a debut author but the thing I’d like to stress to other newly-published authors is how important it is to make your book desirable to teachers.
Teachers are some of the busiest people I know and if you want to make your book stand out and give it some chance of being used in schools (and hopefully some chance of being invited to schools) you need to consider how your book fits in with the curriculum and how teachers can use it in the classroom.
I produce teacher’s guides to my books, and for Motor Goose, I wrote it specifically on vehicles as I know transportation is often studied in the early years’ settings. While I don’t necessarily recommend writing a book for the curriculum, there are ways of creatively producing supplemental activities to go with your book that parallel what is being taught in school. For example, at first glance, It’s Raining Bats & Frogs, doesn’t appear to have any links to the curriculum. It’s about a witch parade that is being rained on. However, on further glance, one can see that it can used in Year 1 (it’s intended audience) for lessons on weather, in English to create rhyming spells, and in science to study both the life cycle of a frog and echolocation in bats.
Give educators a reason to fall in love with your book, and if they like it, they’ll share it with dozens of children year after year!