For many years of my life, whenever I’d say something about wanting to be a successful, published author to someone, an answer I’d get 90% of the time would be, “you should write children’s books.”
I’ve heard this from pastors’ wives, Sunday School teachers, elementary/middle school teachers, friends, aunts, uncles, my parents.
*Insert exasperated sigh here*
I’ve heard it to the point where it’s really starting to irritate me a little, if I’m being honest. And, depending on who says it, I’ll dismiss the idea. I tell them that I’m not interested in the idea of writing kids’ books right now. Because:
- I prefer to write longer works
- I don’t have a publisher, and kids’ books (from what I can tell) are more costly to self-publish (illustrations)
- I feel like EVERYONE is doing it
- I honestly don’t have an idea for one
And their argument is always:
“But they make money. You like money, don’t you?”
To which I want to scream at them… but I don’t.
If my purpose for writing is solely to make money, I’d never be able to pen another word. I didn’t write Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl to make money, nor am I working on four other WIPs to make money. I write because I feel the need to. I yearn to write. Writing is a way for me to tell the stories I feel need to be heard, to say things I may not be able to say out loud. Yes, being paid enough to live comfortably on royalty incomes without working a full-time job would be nice, but I’m realistic enough to know that’s not going to happen overnight, even if I attempt to tackle the “moneymaker” format.
And, if making money was my only pursuit in the whole writing career, I would’ve taken the following steps:
- Hired an agent
- Gone to college for Creative Writing
- Sent out query letters for Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl
- Hired a professional cover designer
…the list could go on and on…
The thing is, I’m content with self-publishing. I love the fact that I have creative control over every aspect of my novel. I’m not knocking traditional publishing, by the way; if you’ve got that option, that’s fantastic. But, it’s just not right for me. At least not right now. I self-published because all of my life I’ve had family/friends/teachers/you name it tell me that I should write a book. And one of those–an instructor for the only creative writing class I’ve ever taken–gave me one of the most memorable compliments/pieces of advice I’ve ever received. After reading a chapter from my current middle grade WIP, Speak Your Mind, she told me I should definitely pursue the middle grade market, because the market needs more talented writers. Now, I didn’t mention that to brag on myself; just to emphasize the next point.
I’m in no way against authors who write children’s books. In fact, there were several I adored as a kid, especially the Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park. And I’m not against kids; I want kids of my own after I’m married. The truth is, I don’t think God is calling me to write kids’ books right now, or else He would equip me with an idea like He has for everything else I’ve ever written. But, with the ideas He has given me thus far, I feel that He’s calling me to write for teens and middle-schoolers, because that’s what all the ideas have been for, and those ideas have received positive feedback from the aforementioned markets. Writing is my gift from God, and I use that gift for two things: to have fun, and to honor Him the best I can. Right now, kids’ books don’t provide me with that outlet, because I’d be trying to force an idea out, but maybe God will call me to do that someday. I just want to pursue the option when He sees fit, and not force a half-hearted idea out of myself in the hopes it’ll make a profit.
Thanks for readings, and to all authors out there, no matter what market you write for, keep using the talent God has given you!