I know two kiddie-lit authors. Today's guest post comes from Cindy Dorman Genis. Cindy grew up in New Haven, as I did, and attended Hillhouse High School, as I did. We have many shared experiences, but because she is three years younger than I am, and graduated three years after I did, we never met in the 'real world.'
However, Cindy and I have become best friends on Facebook.
Her terrific -- and very important -- Your Time To Shine, has just been published. It has received excellent reviews and quickly reached the #15 position on one Amazon bestseller list.
Cindy is a fine writer with an important cause (bullying) to write about. I asked Cindy to share her inspirational back story and surprising publishing experience, and I am pleased to present it here (slightly edited).
Cindy's publishing path is a good example of how personal experience -- even as a child -- can lead to a book, and not only a book for children.
My path was similar. I had a horrible teacher in sixth grade. My parents and my friends' parents were unsympathetic, and in 1958 I pledged that some day I would tell the world what the kids’ parents refused to listen to. Fifty years later, I told my story. Cindy, by the way, likes my book.
OK, here's Cindy:
I have always had a passion for writing. I have a book of poetry I have been adding to for years, but never did anything with the poems.
I wrote a children's book, It's MY Time to Shine, about three years ago. Quite honestly, I did not know the first thing about publishing a book. I went online and became more confused than ever. Either I needed an agent or I had to pay money for publication.
It is very easy for me to write and I prefer writing children's books in poetic form with illustrations.
Last year I sent my book to my friend Michael to review. He liked it and gave me advice on how to get my book published. I was overwhelmed with too much information online. Maybe it is my age.
I actually wrote this book in ONE day! It is a story about a little chubby girl who gets bullied in school because of her weight. All of my children's books will have a message of bettering one's self.
I was the chubby kid in school, though I never got bullied by my friends.
As an adult I was always overweight. My highest weight was almost 350 lbs.! "Obese" was not the word. I did "yo-yo-dieting" all of my life and lost and gained hundreds of pounds. The only solution was gastric bypass surgery and I am finally at a comfortable weight.
Over the years, I watched children being made fun of because of their weight. Angered to the point of confronting the bullies myself, I wrote editorials for my local newspaper.
When my daughter was nine years old, a man driving a truck yelled out his window, calling me a "FAT XXXXX" because I passed him on the road. THAT was something I NEVER forgot. I was humiliated, hurt, and any shred of confidence was wiped away.
My wonderful Greek husband was always supportive. He would tell me I was beautiful and my weight never bothered him. We always owned restaurants and I could eat WHATEVER and AS MUCH as I wanted!!!
When I think back to my youth, I remember all of my cousins were skinny, and the Dorman girls were not. As politically incorrect as it is today, my mother put me on diet pills when I was 12!
Weight has always been an issue in my family. The 'straw that broke the camel's back' was seeing my grandson being taunted and physically abused by other children because he is chubby. I had had enough!
An overweight child or adult has little or no self esteem. My grandson was often afraid to go outside and play, fearing ridicule from the other children. (My two adult nieces are overweight and I am reliving their pain from when I was their ages.)
I took my grandson to a field day at school. Watching the other children push him to the last place in line infuriated me. If his team lost, of course, he would be blamed. I went onto the field and pushed my grandson further up in the line.
This prompted a child to laugh and make derogatory remarks. Well, this prompted ME to tell the kid off. The bus driver was standing behind me and she approached me saying how much she had wanted to say those words and thanked me.
By the way, my grandson's team won!
Last year, new neighbors moved in. I became friends with the mother and her son, John, who is a professor. He invited me to Guest Teach (speak) at his college many times. I didn't know that he owned a publishing company, Green Oak Press.
I told him about my books and he offered to publish them after he read them.
Was I dreaming? OMG! I could NOT believe my works were going to be published! I say "works" because two more books will be following soon. They are also books with a 'message'. The second book is about a 12-year-old girl experiencing trouble with gender identification. The third book tells, in a most beautiful way, how to explain death to a child.
In my first book, the little chubby girl is being terribly bullied in school. Finally, she tells her mommy, and mommy builds up her confidence by telling her about the bullying she went through as a child. It ends up being a rather charming story -- anyone will be able to relate to it.
I really cannot give advice about publishing a book, as I ran into so many walls. I am thanking the 'GOOD LORD', for letting me meet my publisher. I know now that I can continue to write children's books and that they WILL be published!
I also write for many politicians but this poetic verse written for children is truly my forte.
Some comments from Michael:
- Don't give up. Don't be discouraged if an agent or publisher rejects you. You might even meet a sympathetic agent or publisher by accident, as Cindy did. Talk about your book to everyone.
- The professionals in publishing are not infallible. The first Harry Potter book was rejected by the
first agent that J. K. Rowling pitched in 1995, and by the first seven
publishers that the second agent pitched. Revenue from Harry Potter books,
movies and toys is estimated to be about $25 billion -- and amusement park ticket
sales have brought in even more money. At least one agent and seven publishers are
kicking themselves. Ms. Rowling became a billionaire in 2011.
- Kiddie-lit like Cindy's book greatly benefits from color illustrations, but it can be very expensive to print a color book. However, It doesn't cost any more to publish a color ebook than a monochrome ebook. You can get started with e and possibly later move on to p. (The original version of this paragraph had a stupid error.)
- Ebooks don't require e-readers. They can be read on a tablet, smart phone or PC. Modern kids -- even little kids -- are comfortable looking at and eventually reading from a PC screen.
- Cindy's book was originally titled It's MY Time to Shine, but when it was published "my" changed to "your," which is much more personal to readers and more effective. Don't be afraid to change your book's title as the book evolves; and show a mock-up of your cover to 'average' people to get their opinions. Try to get more than "wow" or "I hate it." You need to know the motivations behind reactions. The first version of my memoir had a title that made sense to 'kids' I went to high school with -- but not to anyone else. I changed the title and the new version of the book has sold thousands of copies worldwide, and has even been on a bestseller list for the past two months. It would not have happened with the original title.