Hello, wonderful readers!
Welcome back to the Oasis ― it's great to have you visit again (or for the first time)! This is the place to refresh your spirits, recharge your creativity, and get a literary mood boost, and I hope you'll keep coming back.
Now, stretch your smiles wide and get comfy and cozy for a lovely chitchat because today we have another awesome creative on the KidLit Oasis series... Children's author Katelyn Aronson is here to share some wisdom, insight, and inspiration with us! Plus, check out the giveaway and my FREE webinar offer at the end of this interview.
Welcome, Katelyn! Thank you for joining us on the blog. Please describe your journey to publication.
A: Thank you, Rosie, for having me!
After “dabbling” in writing off and on most of my life, I finally got serious about becoming a children’s author 5 years ago. 2015 marked a time of relative calm in my life, and I felt ready to pursue that old dream, finally giving it the focus it demanded. During that first year, I wrote a few stories, paid for some professional critiques, and tried querying a couple of publishing houses on my own. When that didn’t work, I started looking around for other solutions.
I’m indebted to the “brain children” of two great ladies of the children’s book industry: picture book authors Tara Lazar and Julie Hedlund. First, I participated in Tara Lazar’s “PiBoIdMo” in November of 2015 (now called Storystorm), and filled a notebook full of ideas. A few months after that, I stumbled upon Julie Hedlund’s “12x12 Picture Book Challenge” in January of 2016 and enrolled, with all those brand new ideas ready to be fleshed out. I threw myself into the 12x12 program, finishing one new manuscript per month, sharing my stories on the community forum, and giving and getting peer feedback. By May of that year, I had already signed with agent Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis, the second-oldest literary agency in New York.
I expected my career to take off from there, but it didn’t. Things took time. It isn’t always easy for a newbie to get their work noticed. The industry is cyclical and the wheel is always turning. Picture book biographies were selling like crazy at the time. Then, non-fiction in general seemed to take over. Unfortunately for me, I was writing mostly character-driven fiction. Should I have switched genres? Maybe. But I knew that by the time I’d created some worthy non-fiction pieces, the market would have changed yet again! So I stuck to what I loved best. The waiting part was arduous, and I was tempted to give up on many occasions. Oh, was I glad I hadn’t when 2019 rolled around! My first offer came from Viking of Penguin Random House, for my debut Piglette, releasing this year (only a year after signing it over). Incredibly, four other offers followed within the same calendar year. Words cannot communicate what it means to see a life-long dream coming true at last. Only happy tears can.
Q: What do you find most challenging in this business, either on the creative or publishing side of things? What do you find most rewarding? What helps you stay motivated?
A: No newsflash here: The most challenging thing in this business is all the waiting! I produce a steady stream of new manuscripts, and it’s hard to wait for each of these projects to be subbed/read/replied to in due course. My only coping mechanism is to “distract” myself by jumping into a new writing project.
If my motivation is running low, it helps to re-read a bunch of my favorite picture books. That makes me fall in love with the genre all over again, and sometimes even sparks new ideas.
The most rewarding moment for me is seeing my story come to life through an illustrator’s talent. I get a bit misty-eyed the first time I see my manuscript illustrated. Then there are those three magical moments when the book is finally born: 1) receiving your box of author copies in the mail, 2) seeing your book in an actual bookstore and 3) seeing your book in a child’s hands. At every stage, you realize all over again: it’s real!
Q: Could you share any craft tools or techniques that you find most helpful to you when working on a project? What does your revision process look like?
A: I’m a visual person, so I either storyboard my stories (actually sketching them out) or at the very least, I make a dummy to work out pacing and page turns.
Q: What's coming up for you next? Please tell us about any new releases, exciting news, upcoming events or anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
A: I had a couple of Piglette launch events scheduled for Paris this month, but everything has been postponed due to the pandemic! So I’ll be doing virtual events through indie bookstores in the US, and some in-person events in Switzerland. My first event scheduled is a virtual story time at “Mystery to Me” Bookstore in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday, July 11th at 10:30 a.m. I’ll publish more details across social media soon!
Thank you so much for being my guest, Katelyn, and for your keeping-it-real answers! I appreciate the honest insight and I know our readers will, too. The ups and downs in this business can be quite contrasting and drastic indeed, and the waiting in between, truly excruciating, I agree.
Readers, please support our featured authors/illustrators by following them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, requesting their books through your local library, posting reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and of course, purchasing their books.
I hope you enjoyed this post — comments and shares are appreciated. Thank you!
Connect with Katelyn Aronson:
Katelyn grew up in Southern California, where she went on to work as a children’s bookseller. Eventually, she answered the call of her “European dream” and moved abroad. Today, she divides her time between France and Switzerland, teaching French and English as foreign languages and writing stories.
G I V E A W A Y ! ! !
Comment on this post by midnight CST on Monday 6/22/20
for a chance to win a copy of Piglette.
(Winner will be announced next week.)
Notes and announcements:
If you wish to support my work, please consider pre-ordering my upcoming picture book, Sunday Rain, from your local indie store by clicking HERE:
Do you have a story idea for a children's book? Have you wondered about how to become a children's author? You might think writing a picture book is easy, but you may be surprised.
So how do you turn your idea into a good story by today's publishing standards? Do you know the current market and audience, and how to develop your idea into a publishable story? How do you even get started in children's publishing -- mistakes to avoid, the most important steps to take, what you need to know about writing for children.
This seminar will answer all of these questions and introduce you to the craft and business of children's writing.
And the winner is . . . Shelly Dixon!!!
About Rosie J. Pova
Rosie J. Pova is a
award-winning children's author, speaker, and writing coach on a mission to inspire children not only to read and write more, but to use their creativity, follow their passions, dream big and believe in themselves.
Rosie visits schools and shares her inspirational journey as an immigrant from Bulgaria and how she became a published author, encouraging kids to persist, push through rejections, and hold a high vision for themselves.
Rosie's upcoming picture book, Sunday Rain, will be released in March 2021. It's a story that celebrates imagination, the love of books, and new friendships.
Check out her Critique Services here, her Workshops here, and her school visits page here.
Rosie is represented by Jessica Schmeilder of Golden Wheat Literary.