Storystorm. Ten picture books. A helpful blog for writers. This picture book author is EVERYWHERE! Tara Lazar sat down to answer a few questions about her publishing journey to share with us on the blog. Read the full interview below.
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An Interview with the Multi-Talented Tara Lazar:
1. You’re about to hit TEN total picture books! That’s amazing. Where do you get your ideas from?
They pop up all the time. I never know where they’ll come from. I hear an interesting turn of phrase, or see something inherently hilarious, or find myself saying something and think–WAIT, THAT’S AN AWESOME TITLE!
2. What would you say is the most important thing to consider when writing picture books?
CONCEPT. By far. It isn’t just about the writing. It’s about creating fresh story concepts that we haven’t seen before.
I get asked to critique at conferences and events and the most common thing I say is–this idea needs work. It is hardly ever about the writing itself.
3. Picking a favorite book is like asking to pick a favorite child, so I won’t ask you to do that. Instead, what’s your favorite part of the publication process?
Seeing the illustrations for the first time. They are always extraordinary. To witness someone interpreting your words, making them come alive, is the most glorious transformation to witness.
4. You’re represented by Ammi-Joan Pacquette at Erin Murphy. What would you say is the most important thing to know about working with an agent?
I’m lucky in that I was Joan’s second picture book author to sign on with her. You never know if an agent-author relationship is going to work out. But ours did, magically, wonderfully. She’s a teammate, a cheerleader, and a coach all rolled into one. (And also, at times, a therapist. LOL)
I think it’s important to learn how an agent works before you sign. Decide if their style matches with what you seek. But ultimately, you won’t know if the relationship works until you’re IN the relationship. It’s like dating! So give it some time to work out the kinks, but don’t be afraid to cut ties if it isn’t working out.
5. Not only do you write books, but you manage a wonderful blog! Where did the decision to start that come from and what topics do you tend to focus on?
I started the blog when I began pursuing a career in kidlit. I figured it was another way to write. It also served as a study method for me. I’d go to first-page sessions and write copious notes, then come home and type them out.
That helped me absorb all that knowledge. Then, I posted them on my blog to help others in the same figuring-this-kidlit-writing-thing-out boat.
The blog focuses on everything about traditionally-published picture books! I used to veer outside that realm, but now I stick to what made it popular in the first place.
6. Formally known as PiBoIdMo, you also manage Storystorm, the annual event for PB authors to brainstorm new ideas. Why do you think Storystorm is beneficial and what’s your favorite part about that month?
It’s said that for every 20-30 ideas, you get a few good ideas, but only maybe ONE GREAT IDEA. So, if you’re a picture book writer, you’d better be doing regular idea generation. Write them down. Think about them. It’s an important part of the writing process.
My favorite part about Storystorm is the enthusiasm from everyone–guest bloggers and participants. So many people enjoy it. They get me through all the work of putting it together!
7. You’re so busy and involved in the children’s literature world! How do you find time to balance everything (Or is balance even a thing)?
Well, multiple sclerosis has ruined my balance. Honestly! The part of your brain used for balance is almost completely destroyed. This means I sit a lot. So frankly, it’s perfect for being a writer. My BUTT is already IN CHAIR. LOL!
8. What is the most challenging part of the publishing process for you?
Let me quote Tom Petty: “The waiting is the hardest part.” There is a lot of waiting.
Waiting for a great idea to hit. Waiting to hear critiques. Waiting to learn what your agent thinks. Waiting to hear back on submissions. Waiting to hear an offer. Waiting to learn who your illustrator is. Waiting for the illustrations. Waiting for the book to be printed and released!
You are always caught in some part of the waiting cycle. So just keep writing and begin a new cycle of waiting!!!
9. Has this changed from your first book to now?
Nope. Always waiting! I’m waiting right now!
10. What would be your best advice for someone hoping to publish their own kid’s book?
Be patient. Tome was not built in a day. Never stop creating. Those who succeed are those who don’t quit.
Tara Lazar’s latest book, Your First Day of Circus School, is available today. And if you want to learn more about her or her blog, check out taralazar.com!
Thank you so much to Tara Lazar for sharing her amazing insight into the world of publishing! And if you’re an aspiring picture book writer, check out these other articles around the blog to inspire you to start your own publishing story.
- The Ultimate Guide to Write a Picture Book
- How to Make a Splash with Few words with Tammi Sauer
- How to Write Characters Kids Love