Writing Conference

Top Ten Ridiculous Things People Say to Children’s Writers

Yesterday I attended a children’s writing conference at Boise State University. Jennifer Nielsen, New York Times best-selling author of the Ascendance trilogy, blew me away. Jennifer’s sessions, “Say This, Not That” and “What Publishers Don’t Tell You,” really hit home. She was incredibly honest and motivating. My writing flame is burning bright once again and I now have fresh ambition for the next time someone says one of the following statements to me…

What NOT to say to children’s writers:

1. I wish I had time to write a book.

Really?! Who HAS time to write a book? You make time. You wake up early. You go to bed late. You write while your kiddos are napping. Whatever it takes…you keep writing.

2. Writing is a nice hobby.

Writing is a career choice. It takes ambition and persistence. This is what I want to do. This is what I have to do. I am a writer.

3. Maybe one day, you can write a real book.

Children’s books are REAL books and they are REALLY significant in the industry. Just look at sales figures and top ten lists. Ever heard of Divergent?

4. How do you dumb it down for children?

Children require smarter writing. Children analyze, memorize, and re-read books. As a picture book author, I know it is incredibly difficult to write a book (with so few words) that will captivate kiddos. Every word has to count. Kids get bored easily.

5. Do you know famous writers?

Well, now I do. I met Jennifer Nielsen 🙂

6. You should write like these other famous authors.

Um…no. I’m not going to try to imitate famous authors. Yes, I get inspiration from them, but I have my own VOICE.

7. You’ll be rich.

I write because I love it. I want this to be my career, but I know it will take a lot of hard work. Money is not my motivation. I know I won’t earn six figures or get a movie deal for one of my PB manuscripts.

8. You’ll get used to the rejection letters.

Rejection stings. Rejection is part of the journey to success, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

9. You might get bad reviews.

Yes. So what? Famous and popular books receive bad reviews all the time.

10. You’ll never make it.

This is my passion. I won’t give up. I can do it!

Thank you for this confidence booster, Jennifer! I look forward to hearing you speak again 🙂

Jennifer Nielsen

New York Times Bestselling author, Jennifer Nielsen, was born and raised in northern Utah, where she still lives today with her husband, three children, and a dog that won’t play fetch. She is the author of The Ascendance trilogy, beginning with THE FALSE PRINCE; Book 6 of the Infinity Ring series, BEHIND ENEMY LINES, The Underworld Chronicles, beginning with ELLIOT AND THE GOBLIN WAR; and the forthcoming PRAETOR WAR series. She loves chocolate, old books, and lazy days in the mountains.

Visit Jennifer’s website to learn more about her work: http://www.jennielsen.com/


16 thoughts on “Top Ten Ridiculous Things People Say to Children’s Writers

    1. Donna,

      The conference was absolutely wonderful! I wish there would have been another day of sessions. There were several sessions occurring at the same time, and I had a difficult time deciding which ones to go to. I heard a lot of other attendees say they wish they could have gone to all of them as well. BTW, I met you at the IWG/SCBWI editing workshop last winter. I learned so much at that workshop, and I really enjoyed your contribution to the panel :) Congrats on the success of your book!

      1. Small world! Do you ever come to the IWG luncheons? If so, we should chat! 🙂 I know what you mean about multiple sessions. That’s always the frustration at a really good conference. So glad you had fun. 🙂

  1. Great post. Those are all so true. My own favorite: “Do I know any of your books?” or “Do I know who you are?” I don’t know; do you?

  2. And for us illustrators and illustrator/writers; “I’ve written a story, I’m going to have you illustrate it!” And various versions of that.

  3. Many of my friends said the same thing when I told them about publishing my children’s book. “Oh, I wrote a children’s book, too.” Then they tell me all about the synopsis of their ‘book’. Sometimes it’s actually scrawled on a notebook in the back of a closet somewhere. Most often it’s just an idea they had once. It’s not something many take seriously. Few people have the slightest clue about what it takes to actually see it through.
    The rest went with #7. Which is embarrassing, since nothing could be farther from the truth 🙂

  4. Yes! I can definitely relate to this! Folks don’t realize how much time, effort, and determination it takes to publish a children’s book. Thank you for sharing your thoughts 🙂

  5. Great post! I don’t write children’s books, but I have children and reading is a huge part of our lives, both daily and nightly. As I read some of these books, sometimes I think, ‘Oh, she’ll love this! And it has such a wonderful message!’ She hates it. Can’t stand it. Stomps off to get something else. Something I think is atrocious, and she LOVES it. She’s laughing so hard tears are rolling down her face. I would have no clue where to begin writing for children and it’s more than just which words to use. What I think reaches a child, does not. So I tip my hat to all children’s book writers. You inspire our children and you make them laugh. You meet them in a special place where they should be met, but it takes tremendous skill and creativity to do that. Great job and keep writing!

    1. Thank you! I am often surprised by the books my kiddos are crazy about and the ones they don’t care for. It is fascinating to listen to their explanations of why like or don’t like books. They are so honest. I love it! It’s great to connect with you. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  6. Wonderful post. Writing romance, I hear that “maybe you’ll write a real book” quite often. I have nothing but respect for children’s book authors. When I read with my children and see how they connect with a book, my heart fills with joy. When kids connect with books, they grow up to become readers. Where would the rest of be with children’s book authors.

    1. Thank you! As writers, we hear so many silly things! My husband is trying to encourage me to write romance. Maybe I will branch out one of these days. My children are young and they are such an inspiration to my writing. I look forward to reading your posts 🙂

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