Have you ever wanted to write children’s books and are clueless on how to start? If you answered yes, it might be in your best interest to consider a writer’s coach. I invite you to read the interview below so you can learn about the huge benefits of having a coach . Thank you so much, Suzanne, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. Having reaped so many benefits from working with you, I knew I had to find a way to let other inspiring authors learn about the services you provide. I also want to publicly thank you for helping me take my manuscripts to the next level.
I’m a former classroom teacher, now a full time freelance writer, children’s author, and writer’s coach. My years as a classroom teacher are what inspired me to become a writer’s coach. I just naturally gravitate to teaching and coaching as well as writing. I like helping other people become published writers almost as much as I enjoy writing for publication myself. In fact, sometimes I think I spend too much time teaching and coaching and not enough time writing. But I’m going to change all that this summer. I’ll be leading a Book Bootcamp for other writers, but I’ll also be writing two books myself during bootcamp.
How long did it take you to acquire the skills to become a writer’s coach?
Actually, my years as a teacher helped me become a writer’s coach, so you might say it took me several decades to become an effective coach. My experience as a writer has also helped me become a better writer’s coach because I know some of the pitfalls writers face. As a children’s writer, I think I’m able to write materials in an easy-to-understand way, and this includes my coaching materials, so my experience and training as a children’s writer has also helped me become a good coach. Still, I’m always learning more about coaching, just as I am about writing, so I hope I will continue to get better and better as a coach and as a writer for years to come.
Writing for children is extremely difficult. Can you explain what a new author like me must do in order to fine tune my writing skills?
For anyone who wants to become a published children’s writer, I’d say read, read, read the type of children’s writing you wish to write. If you want to become a picture book author, for example, then read picture books on a regular basis. Go to the bookstore or the library and just read dozens of picture books. Do this every month.
Also, take classes and workshops to become a better writer, or join a coaching club like the Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club, to learn more about writing for children and the business of writing for children.
Finally, write and submit on a regular basis and join a critique group that includes at least a few writers who have published in the genre you wish to write. When these writers critique your work, consider their comments and suggestions carefully. You don’t have to do everything they suggest. But if they know what it takes to become published in the genre you’re hoping to break into, then listen to what they have to say.
You have blown me away each time you have critiqued a manuscript for me, in fact, I got a contract for a second book with my publisher after I followed your suggestions. How does one develop such a sharp eye for details when writing for children?
I don’t know how other writers develop a sharp eye for details when writing for children, but here’s how I did it (and continue to do it). First, I was an instructor for the Institute for Children’s Literature for about 10 years. The training I received from the Institute helped me learn what makes a children’s manuscript marketable. Knowing what makes a manuscript marketable is often the key to getting published, yet many writers never take the time to learn about the “business” of writing, so they never get published. Each time I review a manuscript (mine or someone else’s) I use a checklist to determine whether or not the manuscript is marketable the way it is. It could be that the writing is good, yet the manuscript is missing several elements needed to make it more marketable. Those elements are generally what I’m looking for when I review a manuscript.
I was also the regional advisor for the Kansas chapter of SCBWI for several years, and I learned a lot from other writers I met back then. I even got my first book contract through SCBWI, so I always encourage writers to take an active part in writer’s associations like SCBWI. Volunteer at your local level. You’ll meet all sorts of other writers, editors, and agents you can learn from and network with.
I also attend conferences and writer’s workshops regularly so I keep up with current writing and publishing trends for the children’s markets. I continue to read children’s books all the time, too, and I also read every book about writing and writing for children that I can get my hands on. I think all writers need to keep up with current trends and network with other writers, editors, and agents on a regular basis through attendance at conferences and online through listservs, forums, and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
How many books have you written?
Gosh, I’ve lost count because I’ve ghostwritten several books, so those books don’t have my name on the covers and I tend to forget about them. But I think I’ve written 22 published books and my 23rd is due for release soon. I’m currently working on 2 more books right now. One is a novel, the other is a nonfiction book for freelance writers. I also have a cozy culinary mystery that I’m going to self-publish soon.
Besides being a writer’s coach, can you explain what other services you offer?
Well, I’m also a speaker and a writer, of course. I love to speak at writer’s conferences and visit schools, bookstores, and libraries to talk about my books and/or writing for children or freelance writing. And I provide in-service training for teachers on a variety of topics.
I also often write for educational publishers. Sometimes I write books, other times I write testing materials or reading passages. I also write for small businesses — press releases, articles, create media kits, etc.. And I also do some editing and consulting.
As the Working Writer’s Coach, I offer instructional materials – including teleclasses, e-courses, and audio files — to help people learn to write for publication and/or start their own freelance writing business.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Well, for anyone reading this who wants to become a published author, I’d say, just start small. You don’t have to change your entire life and write for hours and hours every day to become a published author. You just need to write on a consistent basis. Even 30 minutes a day adds up. If you only write one page a day, at the end of a year you’ll have a book! So don’t make excuses. You can become a writer if you really, really want to. Just get started! Then find the help you need to make sure the manuscript you’re writing will be marketable!
Please tell the readers where they can find more information about you and your services.
Visit my coaching website at http://www.workingwriterscoach.com or my author site at http://www.suzannelieurance.com and to find out more about the Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club, visit http://www.cwcoachingclub.com — You can also find me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/writerscoach and Facebook.