I am delighted to have my friend, Jackie Kruzie--a picture book writer and also our SCBWI Regional Adviser--guest post on my blog today.
Jackie shares her experience on building a platform as a pre-published author and gives us advice on how to treat writing as a business. For some of you, putting yourself out there might come easily, but for most of us, introverts, it's quite a stretch. Read on to find out how Jackie did it.
Please let us know what you think in the comments and I invite you to share your own experience getting out of your comfort zone as well.
Here's Jackie . . .
Put On Your Beyoncé
By Jackie Kruzie
I am so excited for my friend Rosie and the release of her picture book “If I Weren’t With You” Rosie has been a mentor to me and I am thrilled she has asked me to write a post for her blog.
Chances are if you are a writer you are an introvert. I certainly am. I cower at the thought of public speaking, self-promotion, pretty much anything that requires me to actually talk to people.
Yet, here I am putting myself out there. Why? Because I want to be a successful writer. To achieve that goal, I have to be active in my writing business. That’s right, writing is a business. I wish that all I had to do was furiously clickity clack away on my computer, but the deeper I dive into the writing world the more I find myself doing things like this:
Yep, there I am standing in front of a group of 5th graders worrying if my hair looks good, if my shirt makes me look pregnant, if I smell like sweat and fear. Over the past couple of years, I have found myself the center of attention more and more. I’ve conducted writing workshops for children and adults, hosted conferences, and been a guest blogger. And guess what? I’m not even published yet! You may be wondering how this all came to be for an admitted introvert with social anxiety and a fear of public speaking. I’ll tell you in one word…Beyoncé.
Beyoncé has an alter ego she named Sasha Fierce. When she goes on stage she becomes Sasha Fierce, and Sasha is fierce. She has the courage to do things Beyoncé wouldn’t dream of doing. So, I took Queen B’s advice and created an alter ego of my own. I call her Beyoncé. Yes, I know that isn’t the most imaginative name, but who wouldn’t want to be a mega star with beauty, poise, and confidence?
With my alter ego securely fastened, I did something I never thought I would do. I volunteered. I attended an SCBWI meeting where the Regional Advisor asked if anyone would be willing to write a blog post for our chapter’s website. My hand went up (Beyoncé did it). I rocked that post. I rocked it so hard, I was asked to be the Social Media Captain for my SCBWI chapter. Now, I know that my writing didn’t blow anyone’s mind. I am pretty sure the reason I was asked was because I showed willingness to contribute, but nevertheless I was asked and I accepted.
I rocked that too. I was so good at being Social Media Captain that I was asked to be Assistant Regional Advisor. Again, it was due more to my willingness to help than actual skill. Not too long after I rocked at being Assistant I took over as Regional Advisor.
Thanks to this new position, I was thrust into the lime light. Suddenly people were looking to me to teach, guide, and even entertain them. I got busy researching. Some of my research required me to ask questions (GULP!) I had to bypass my social anxiety and reach out to other Regional Advisors, SCBWI members, published authors, teachers, and librarians. Turns out I’m a likable person and I made lots of good friends and good connections. Those connections facilitated in earning invitations to speak to children at schools about writing. I created a workshop I call The Young Author’s Workshop that teaches elementary students the fundamentals of writing a creative work of fiction. Teachers and librarians talk y’all, and soon I was receiving emails requesting my workshop.
Now, time for a funny story. I was on an airplane headed to Utah to do one of my Young Writer’s Workshops when I struck up a conversation with the woman next me (thanks again Beyoncé). Turns out she was an elementary teacher and was interested in my program. We exchanged cards (get cards). About a week later she emailed me saying that she had spoken to her principal and they were all set for my visit.
The story isn’t over yet, folks. In the spirit of volunteering, since it worked out for me previously, I decided to volunteer at my local library. I rocked it (really I just kept asking “what can I do to help?) A few weeks after volunteering I was asked to be on the library board. It’s amazing what doors will open when you genuinely wish to help an organization succeed. Now I am able to add books to the library’s collection, plan the summer reading program, and implement adult educational programs.
Don’t forget, I am a pre-published author. However, each experience has not only improved my writing, but has provided some impressive credentials to put in the bio paragraph of my queries.
So, let’s break it down nice and easy for all those who only read the bullet points of blog posts (we’re all guilty of it from time to time).
Tip #1 – Create an alter ego
Tip #2 – Volunteer
Tip #3 – Hone your skills. Not just writing skills, but presentation, planning, and public speaking skills
Tip #4 – Talk to people. Get business cards and pass them out. Make connections, ask for help, and help others (I didn’t cover this in the post, but it is VERY VERY IMPORTANT. The kid lit world is full of generous people. Help others and they will help you).
Tip #5 – Rock at everything you do. I joked about this (at least I hope you know I was joking, I’m not that conceited), but there is a bit of truth in it. Be reliable, trustworthy, and constantly improve.
Thank you to everyone who has helped me. It’s my turn to pay it forward. I hope you have found insight and inspiration in this post and I apologize for my numerous use of the word Beyoncé.
Jackie Kruzie is a picture book author and creator of The Young Author’s Workshop. She is the regional advisor for SCBWI North Texas and serves on the library board for the Gunter Library and Museum. She enjoys country living with her husband, 5 children, 2 cats, and numerous cattle and longhorns. Connect with Jackie through her blog at jaclynkruzie.com and on Facebook and Twitter.
About the Author
Rosie J. Pova is a prolific children's writer, a wife and a mother of three.
Ever since childhood, Rosie has had a passion for writing and has been fascinated with the power of words. She has written essays, short stories and poetry in Bulgarian and French as a young girl, but as a grown-up, her writing gave way to family, jobs and just life. Until 2004, when she revisited her love for story-making, a few years after becoming a mom.
Rosie is originally from Bulgaria now living in Texas with her husband and three kids. She writes primarily for children of all age groups, as well as poetry.
Rosie dreams of inviting many readers into her make-believe worlds and hopes to touch hearts with her words.
Rosie J. Pova is represented by Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary Agency.