The COSBWI July meeting in Columbus featured author Michele Jakubowski. Michele writes early readers and chapter books. She has two series published, Sidney & Sydney and Perfectly Poppy, and two forthcoming series to be released in 2016, Ashley Small and Ashlee Tall and The Sleuths of Somerville. With so many books under her belt, it was exciting to hear Michele talk about her journey to publication and offer advice for aspiring writers.
Michele began her love of books at an early age and was most inspired by her literary hero, Judy Blume. She studied English and always wanted to write, but her dreams got pushed aside for a while. It wasn't until Michele had her own children that she was inspired to start writing. She was disappointed that her son's books were all "boy books" while her daughters books were all pink, so she set out to write a story that they could enjoy reading together. Sidney and Sydney was the result of this idea, a book with alternating chapters told from male Sidney's and female Sydney's perspectives.
Michele sent over 100 queries to agents and editors, eventually finding a home with the publisher Capstone. During the process of publishing the Sidney and Sydney series, Capstone offered her the opportunity to write a new project with them, which became the eight-book series Perfectly Poppy. They are publishing her upcoming series, too, and Michele has been thrilled for the opportunity to work with multiple projects and different editors within the same house. When she isn't busy writing, Michele loves to do author visits at schools and Skype visits.
After Michele shared her publication story, she answered questions from the group and offered advice. Some of her tips included:
-Send queries in small batches. She regrets sending so many at once since she couldn't implement helpful feedback into work that was already on submission. Michele recommended that writers send a few queries at a time, then consider any feedback received (and revise if needed) before sending more.
-If you're not going to work with an agent, you need to be comfortable with asking for what you want. You need to do contract research, too. Michele learned a lot navigating her first contract, but is currently happy with her decision to work on her own.
-Make sure to write down your ideas when you have them! Michele shared a humorous story about how she came up with the idea for Sidney and Sydney while falling asleep one night. She dragged herself out of bed to jot down all her thoughts, and the notes were a wonderful surprise when she found them the next morning. (She had, indeed, forgotten her ideas overnight!)
A big thank you to Michele for speaking to COSCBWI! You can find out more about Michele and her writing at /www.michelejakubowski.com.
And if you want to learn more about COSCBWI, be sure to visit the group website at http://ohiocensouth.scbwi.org. I hope to see you at the next meeting!
Note: Cover image compilation is from www.amazon.com.