My Writer's Journal

About Kids Publishing

April 7, 2012

Last Sunday I took part in TEDxArcadia at a college in the Philadelphia suburbs, a long day with 18 live presenters alternating with videos of popular TED talks from other parts of the country. One was a 10-year-old girl who had already had several books published and was making a very strong argument against traditional publishers who "don't want to work with children." Probably she's a genius, and it may well be that her work is of the highest order.

Then in last Sunday's NY Times I read a front-page article about kids whose parents are paying hefty sums to have their children's stuff published as e-books. Apparently it helps their self-esteem. My own view, and it probably won't win me any friends here, is that this is no way to become a good writer. It also occurs to me that becoming a good writer may not be the goal at all. It's just to be a published writer; maybe even a writer read by someone other than your teacher.

I've always been worried about people who sign up for workshops and come with just one really burning question: "How do I get published?" Not how do I get more tension in this narrative, how do I make my characters more believable, how much description is too much, how do I make my dialogue better? And I never have a satisfactory answer.

I have a lot of friends who are writers--published writers, some more successful than others. I don't know any who have hit the jackpot on the first try (or the second, or the tenth). Years ago a friend who worked in another field called and asked for the name of my agent. "Why do you want that?" I asked.
"Because I'm writing a best-seller, and I need to get signed up right away." I told her I was glad to hear that and asked her how far along she was with the book. "First chapter," she said. I don't know if she ever made it to Chapter Two.

All my writer friends know that rejection is the norm, success is elusive, and becoming a writer is a lifetime job. Kids ought to know that, too.


  1. April 22, 2012 6:39 AM MDT
    You are so very right it's not even funny!!! Where I see it a lot is sports! It seems that kids get trophies for just going to soccer (or what ever sport they are in)! I do not know how this teaches a child to do his or her best! Children should learn that they don't get something for nothing and sometimes you are not the best! My oldest son is in Karate and he had to earn and fight for his trophy and metals!!
    - hilary

Fiction for Young Adults

Fiction for Young Adults
Dowdy Peggy White reinvents herself as a glamorous photographer, capturing memorable images during the 1930s Depression and 1940s World War II
Three gutsy girls go looking for adventure in the West in the 1920's
Anastasia and her three sisters are the privileged daughters of the richest man in the world, until their world begins to crumble.
YA Historical Fiction
What's it like to be the daughter of the most beautiful woman in the world? When Helen of Troy elopes with Paris, her daughter, Hermione, stows away on a Greek ship in search of her mother, hoping to bring her home--and perhaps to find a love of her own.
The future queen of England lives a life of privilege, but privilege comes with a steep price of isolation and loneliness--until she meets Albert.
She leaves Scotland as a child, is sent to France to marry the future king, returns to Scotland as a young woman to rule; a wild queen in a wild country.
First published in 1992, my first historical novel, has been reissued with a new cover.
Cleopatra has been chosen to be the next queen of Egypt, but she faces ruthless competition from her sisters. (Watch a video of Carolyn on this page)
The dizzying rise and horrific downfall of the last queen of France. Young Royals series
Who would not fall in love with--or at least have a mad crush on--young Will!
Marie van Goethen was a dancer in 19th century Paris and modeled for Degas's famous sculpture.
A fictionalized account of the early life of Charles Darwin, narrated by Charley himself.
Mozart's talented sister, Nannerl, struggles to achieve life she deserves--in music as well as in love.
Contemporary YA
Four characters, four big issues, four compelling stories: BECAUSE OF LISSA; THE PROBLEM WITH SIDNEY; GILLIAN'S CHOICE; THE TWO FACES OF ADAM

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