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Top 30 Publishing Tips from Authors at DSM Book Festival

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting with Children’s Book authors and other kinds of authors from all over at the DSM Book Festival. I listened to all sorts of stories and publishing tips from authors to help other aspiring writers.

There were so many different breakout sessions and author talks, that one could come inundated with notes on various topics. However, I sifted through all my information to bring you their top tips and things that were mentioned multiple times.

Publishing Tips from Authors | Tips for Writers from Published Authors

30 Publishing Tips from Authors at DSM Book Festival:

I tried to make the list flow from starting idea, to writing your book, and then to publishing and marketing tips. But there’s no hierarchy in the tips! All of these 30 publishing tips from authors are VERY IMPORTANT to help your writing.

  • It’s not always your first book that sells. Just keep writing and never give up!
  • You must read, read, read. Read this article for all the benefits of reading comp books in your genre before you start writing!
  • Don’t worry if your process is different from everyone else. Some people choose to free write scenes and hope to find a plot. While others, outline like crazy and build the scenes from there. And it’s ok if you’re a mixture of both. 😚
  • Your best friends or family are NOT honest feedback for your manuscript. You need a critique group. Read this to help you find a writer’s group in your area!
  • Learn how to separate the WRITER part of your from the person who wants to be PUBLISHED. You will still receive a lot of rejections even as a published author. But you can’t let that need to sell a book kill your productivity as a writer.

Focus on telling an honest story that’s true to you.

-Nnedi Okorafor (Author of Black Panther, Long Live the King)
  • Especially when thinking about diversity in your books, focus on the honesty and authenticity that you bring. You can only tell things that you KNOW about and have a clear understanding. Don’t be an imposter–do your research and immerse yourself entirely in the culture, history, or environment if you’re trying to talk about something you aren’t sure of.
  • Be patient and take your time! Let the idea simmer so the characters and plot can come to you.
  • Take your characters along with you during your day. At random points throughout the day, ask yourself: How would your character be acting at this particular moment?
  • When you’re building your world, remember that it didn’t just start. Know the history and what made it the way it is in the present tense of your story.
  • Write what you love & don’t focus on trends because they’re overdone. Agents and editors are always looking for fresh and unique. Read this to learn more about writing the book you want.
  • Don’t tell anyone your great ideas. The drive to write goes away and it will kill your creativity.
  • Allow your characters room to speak to you. Don’t always try to talk for them. Allow them to talk to YOU!
Writer On-Submission Toolkit | Guide to Children's Book Publishing

Separate the writer in your from the person who wants to be published.

-Rebecca Janni (Author of the Every Cowgirl Series)
  • One of the hardest parts of writing is believing in yourself. Recognize that your story matters and is worth pursuing even if only for yourself. And read this if you’re struggling with self-doubt.
  • You don’t have to do it alone. Other people from your writing partners, to an agent and editor, and your book launch team can help make the writing process better.
  • Realize that your story is done. You can ALWAYS be editing, but eventually, you need to stop and know this is good enough to publish. Knowing so will help you overcome your fear of rejection.
  • However, NEVER skimp on editing. A difference between a book that’s written and one that is done well is the editing. Use a professional editor if you’re self-publishing and critique partners before submitting.
  • Know your market and your reader. And read this to help you target the perfect reader in a children’s book.
  • The first question you should ask yourself is “what are your goals”. This will make a HUGE difference on your path to publishing your book.
  • You DO NOT need to have an agent in order to publish a book. However, they can be very helpful and are almost mandatory for major publishing houses. Go back to your goals to know if you need to have one.
Publishing Tips from Authors | Children's Book Writers Panel
The children’s book author panel. From Left to Right: Cindy Chambers Johnson, Katie Kennedy, Jenny Moyer, & Rebecca Janni.
  • Once you have an agent, they will be very focused on sales and marketing. This can change how you view your book ideas and make it harder for you to just pitch anything to them.
  • Three of the best resources to help you find an agent are: Literary Rambles, Query Tracker, & Publisher’s Marketplace. These sites will give you access to contact info, what they’re looking for, and insight into who they are through interviews. Read this to learn more about how to find an agent.
  • Use the hashtag #MSWL to find out specifically what agents and editors are looking for. (I would also make it genre specific too by adding either PB, CB, MG, or YA to the Twitter search.)
  • Make real connections at conferences. They can be beneficial contacts for writer groups and publishing professionals.
  • The #1 marketing tip was to know where your audience is. Use that information to help you get the word out. Pitch local options, media outlets, blog, influencers, etc.
  • Print books sell better than e-books. If you have an e-book consider offering it for free with a purchase of a print copy to help increase your sales.
  • You can leverage your blog and website to sell more books. Read this article to learn more about the power of email lists.

If it’s too difficult for adults to comprehend, write it for children. They’re more open to learning new things.

– Karla Hansen (Author of the Shimmering Secret)
  • If you published with a small press or self-published, join the Independent Book Publishing Association (IBPA). This is a great place to network and put your book up for awards.
  • Self-publishing is an AMAZING resource for authors. It can open other doors for your career, you earn a higher percentage in royalties, and you get full control. However, you also have a lot more responsibility. Go back to your goals to know if this is an option for you.
  • Deadlines can put a damper on creativity. It’s good to know in advance so you can adjust your process when the time comes. Never hurts to learn good writing habits early!
  • Above all, keep writing! Always be making more books. You don’t want to write the same thing for years. In order to grow your writing, write different things.

It was such a fun experience getting to network with so many local authors, as well as, the ones who made the special trip in. I hope these publishing tips from authors help you with your publishing journey!

If you have any other great tips, leave a comment below. 😄

Free Children's Book Publishers Guide

Also, check out these other articles to help you become a published author yourself:

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