One of the first interviews I did when my Writing 4 Children column launched in 2016 was with the esteemed Nicola Morgan. She is one of my writing idols.
She had a strong, realistic message to tell people who wanted to write for children as a full time career. Nicola said:
You will have to do school events
They are exhausting, can be demoralising and will sometimes test your resilience beyond its max. They can also be soul-nourishing, highly rewarding and are almost always eye-opening, which is good. Try to take all their benefits and learn to love your audiences by focusing on the vast majority of the students who are listening avidly. And when something undermining happens, laugh (afterwards, not at the time).
You will be seriously underpaid for almost all your children’s/teenage writing
If you want to earn a lot, you need to write a certain sort of book, usually a trilogy/series (though many of those fail before they’ve started.) And you’ll still need luck. Make sure you are paid for events because they can be your only way to survive financially.
Bad things, small or big, will happen in your career
They will often be things you have to keep to yourself or a close circle of friends. This is true for all artists who put their heart and soul out into the world to be judged by others. So value those friends, as they will support you in those bad times. And realise that all the multi-garlanded, apparently uber-successful authors you’ve been following on Twitter etc also have moments (if they’re lucky or incredibly thick-skinned) and months (the rest of us) of darkness and gloom, that we all have angst and inadequacy written through our veins, and that there are more ways to get under the skin of a creative person than there are ways to write a novel. But the emotional rewards are huge. Being published and read is worth the pain.
Nicola’s tips for children’s book writers were read a lot of modern children’s books and if your book has a message keep it hidden.
You can read the full interview in the #179 Sept 2016 issue of the national writing magazine, Writers Forum.