This is part 2 of our interview with Zanni Louise, author of picture books Too Busy Sleeping and Archie and the Bear, plus four early readers and another picture book coming out next year. In part 1 (here) we found out how her blogging both ignited her desire to write for children and provided the opportunity to be published and in part 2 we look at some of the issues involved in the business of getting published.
Hi again, Zanni! You’ve had two books published with one publisher (Little Hare), what made you investigate others (Scholastic) for your next picture book and how did that come about?
I was sitting around waiting for emails for a lot of last year. I was developing so much work, and sending out so many manuscripts, but nothing much was coming back. I guess I wanted to pursue every avenue I could. There was a moment, I was about to throw it all in, and study primary education. And then I received a four book deal from Five Mile, and an email from Scholastic. Sometimes, you just have to be patient! The delay mightn’t have anything to do with the quality of your manuscript.
And your series for early readers is with Five Mile Press – how did you choose them?
Natasha Besliev moved from Hardie Grant Egmont to Five Mile / Bonnier, at which point she contacted me to let me know where she was, and to keep in touch. So when my fiction was passed on by Hardie Grant Egmont, I approached Natasha.
Do you have an agent?
No. I have thought about it, but I don’t think I need one in Australia. I would be interested in a US agent, though.
What have been the most encouraging moments for you in your writing career?
Every email from a publisher! Seeing pictures of kids with my books. School visits. Being best seller at a children’s bookshop. Being long-listed for CBCA Book Awards… so many things.
And the discouraging? How have you handled the discouragements?
There’s probably only been one rejection that has made me cry. And that was only because I really believed it would happen, and I’d put so many months of work into the manuscripts. I felt like I couldn’t achieve what the publisher wanted, and felt frustrated towards myself. In my months of waiting for emails from publishers, I definitely questioned my ability. But I feel more confident now, knowing I have things coming out.
Having your blogging platform was instrumental in both inspiring you to write for children and getting published, how has having a blogging platform helped after your book was published?
Marketing and promotion. Many booksellers and book reviewers follow my blog, and so do parents. I think it’s a great thing to be generous, as you say in the intro, with knowledge, and thoughts about writing, as you are part of a community of writers. That community is a great support to me.
What other ways do you go about promoting your books?
Bookshop visits, school and preschool visits, blog tours and events. Radio and newspaper promotion.
How are you linked into the writing community?
I have a couple of friends who I write to every week about writing. I am part of the Duck Pond Facebook group, which I love! My Facebook and Instagram community are very supportive. And I am connected with a few local authors who are also very supportive and inspiring.
Allison Tait also recommends your website as an example of a great author website – what do you think is the role of an author’s website?
To communicate what you do. To share your books, and your process. A blog helps your reach, an
d you can become a sort of ‘specialist’ in an area. It’s like a business card.
So tell us about your blog now – what time do you spend on it and has it morphed over time?
I don’t write much at My Little Sunshine House anymore, due to lack of time, and also change of focus. My children are growing up, so blogging about them doesn’t work so well any more. Also, I am so focused and committed to children’s book writing, I find blogging about the writing process on my website is much more meaningful and relevant to where I am at. But blogging means you can do what you want, so it’s almost imperative that a blogger does morph!
You run storytelling and bookmaking workshops with children making their own picture books- tell us a bit about that.
I love working with kids, and have done that for many years. I used to run workshops at the library. Now I run courses for adults and children, either at the community college, the Byron Writers Festival, or in schools. I love facilitating workshops so much. Almost as much as I love writing!
What are three things you think are most important for people writing for children to know/take into account/do etc?”
Keep the child in mind. Hang out with kids!
Write write write, and never stop, except when you are exhausted, in which case, take a break.
Keep your writing community close at hand.
I am working on two series proposals, an MG fiction and about five PB manuscripts. And I am doing workshops with StoryBoard through the Byron Writers Festival. Never a dull moment! Oh, and Archie is coming out in the US next year, so maybe I will have to sneak that into my schedule.
Wow! You are busy! Thanks so much for taking time out for this interview, Zanni.
You can find Zanni here
And me here