Some time ago, this question popped up on the SCBWI boards:
Other than good writing, what do you think it takes to have a successful career as a children’s book author?
Ok, fine. I pushed for a list of questions you might want to ask an agent, and this was one of them. I still think it’s a great question, and I’m pulling it out as my first official “Ask Daphne!” post.
Some might say that good writing is all it takes to have a successful career as an author. I’d say good writing can take you very far as a writer, certainly, but to be an author — to get invited to conferences, have your name bandied about the internet by fans, become a brand– it helps to be a fantastic self-promoter. Sure, you may sign a big, fabulous deal with Giant Publishing Company, Inc., and they may throw loads of money at you for publicity, but much more likely, you’re going to have to be the one pounding the virtual pavement, updating your blog, making sure that people come to you for new and exciting information. Seth Godin, marketing guru, recently put out a free ebook I recommend called “Money For Nothing” in which he outlines the three things your blog or website should be to direct traffic to your site: Unique, Useful, and Updated. Those are three words we kept in mind in designing ktliterary.com, certainly, and they should go for your author blog, too.
Looks, books take a long time to write and publish. Between pub dates, what are your readers going to do? Well, they might read other books (and we hope they read LOTS of books), but we hope they’re also going to look for more information about their favorite authors. So let them find something! Keep it unique, useful, and updated, and you’re well on your way to a successful career as a children’s book author.
It also helps to have a day job.