My Visit to Saint Patrick School, October 5, 2011

Tammy and Michelle Branco, Librarian at St. Patrick School

Saint Patrick Catholic School in Wentzville, Missouri has been educating students for more than ninety years. Established in 1908, the campus serves about 450 students ranging from Kindergarten through 8th grade. I am very grateful to the school for giving me the opportunity to speak with their students yesterday about the writing, illustrating and publishing process. The librarian, Michelle Branco, did a wonderful job preparing all the students for my visit. Even the upper grades (6th-8th) were familiar with my picture books, and I was pleased to learn that the older students enjoyed them as much as the younger.

K-2nd 8:30 AM – 9:00 AM

3rd – 5th 9:00 AM – 9:45 AM

6th-8th 9:45 AM – 10:30 AM

I rarely have the opportunity to speak with middle school students (6th-8th grades), but since they are old enough to write and publish a book themselves, I take them through the publication process, step by step. Saint Patrick School does NOT use e-books, but many of the students own Kindles, Nooks, or even iPads. I emphasized with older students (6th-8th) that although it is easier and faster than ever to publish a book, the amount of work that goes into creating the story is still the same. Traditional publishers might spend a year or more formating, publishing, and preparing physical books for the bookstore, whereas an e-book can be published and sold directly to customers within a matter of hours!  To further illustrate, consider that in 2010 over 300,000 physical books were published by traditional means, whereas independently produced books (small presses, e-books) numbered over 2.7 million in the same year (http://terrywhalin.com/3.1millionbooksin2010.pdf). Competition is fiercer than ever, so writers and artists who want to excel need to master the fundamentals:

Step 1) You have to be as familiar with your genre as your readers. Your audience will compare your book to others like it, so READ, READ, READ!!! Make sure your book measures up. If your book is not as good or better than the other books like it, you’ll have a hard time finding an audience.

Step 2) Do your research.

Step 3) REVISE, REVISE, REVISE!

Step 4) Test your book on your audience before you publish. If your feedback is not stellar, revise again!

The time it takes to produce a quality book your audience will love AND recommend will stay the same, regardless of how the book is published (a year or more with a traditional publisher or published within minutes as an e-book). In other words, you still have to read, research, and rewrite (or redraw) to produce a book. It is a time-consuming process that may take months or even years to accomplish, but if your audience approves of the final product, it is worth all the effort. When it comes to writing or art, dedication and perseverance will never go out of style!

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