“I’d like to thank you all for coming and listening to me read an excerpt from my latest novel.”
I close my book and look out over the sea of faces, surprised by the turnout. “Does anyone have any questions?”
“How long does a novel have to be if it’s for kids?” someone shouts.
Not the question I expected, but, I clear my throat. “Well, it depends on what age you’re writing for.”
“How do I know that?”
“Google!” an unhelpful snarker in the bunch yells out.
“I wrote a book myself,” someone else chimes in. “How do I submit it to agents and editors?”
“I’m writing one, too! Do I pay someone to edit or do it myself? Do I hire an agent and they edit it for me? How does that work?”
“Those are all great questions,” I say. “Well, everyone’s journey to publication is different…”
“Yeah, but what’s the right way?” Someone impatient interrupts. “Do you get an agent first? And how do you find the right agent? Or do you just go straight to the editor?”
An older gentleman stands up. “I was rejected so many times, I figured I’d die before I’d ever see my book out there. Then my grandson showed me how to self-publish. Now I am rejection free.”
“It’s true,” I say. “You can self-publish. Many people enjoy the benefits of the self-publishing world.”
“How do you self-publish?”
“Do you pay for that?”
“My friend wrote a picture book and I illustrated it. Do we both submit it or just one of us?”
“I’m an illustrator too and I have no idea where to begin! Do I just email my artwork to every agent and editor I find?”
“Just Google it!” The snarker is back.
“Well, no. You don’t want to do that,” I say.
Instead of helping, I seem to make a bigger mess of things.
I no longer hold the room captive. It has captured me.
“So we shouldn’t Google things?”
“Can you tell us anything specific?”
“What do we have to pay for?”
The questions are popping up everywhere!
I suck at Whack-A-Mole.
How do you submit? How do you edit? How do you get your illustrations out there? Can you write as well as create the art? Self-Publishing or Traditional? Editor or Agent first?
Emotionally, I start going fetal, complete with thumb-sucking. Everyone has so many questions, how can I answer them all?
Then I remember I already have THE answer.
“Everyone please!” I say, and the room quiets after a moment. “I’m sorry. I can’t possibly tell you everything you need to know about the publishing path, because there’s too much. But write this down: www.SCBWI.org.”
“SCBWI? What does that stand for?”
“Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. And it is your best chance for publication from picture book to young adult, traditional or self-published. As a member, you will find everything you need to answer all your questions. There are resources to guide you, from the beginning when you don’t even know if you can write a book, to the end when you’re ready to promote your new release.
“Honestly, friends, I can’t say enough about this organization, but I can tell you that without it, I wouldn’t be standing up here reading from my book. So do your career a solid, and become a member. Start on your path today!”
Everyone claps, and I feel great. By giving them the website address, I’ve answered all their questions!
“Now, does anyone have any questions about my book?”