June 29, 2004

Kimberly Morris's best advice to writers

Alas, today is the last day of our Author of the Month interview with Kimberly Morris. Many thanks to Kimberly for taking time out of her hectic schedule to answer these questions. I hope you've gleaned some information and gained some enouragement as you're read through the series of questions. I think you'll agree that Kimberly's final admonishment is something we all need to hear. I hope I'll hear from those of you who have visited and spent time reading the interview. Please use the comment feature to let me know what you liked, didn't like, and what you'd like to see more of in future interviews and regular postings. Next month's featured author will be announced in the upcoming week as soon as the details are finalized. Now, back to the interview:

6. As the editor of SCBWI-Houston’s newsletter and someone who’s involved in the speaker’s bureau, would you give us some of your thoughts about marketing and promotions...what you think works and what doesn’t, how things have changed and what you think writers must focus on in today’s market to get their work noticed.

km_photothumbWow! That’s actually a lot of questions. I have loved working on the newsletter but am about to hand it off to the new editor, Joyce Harlow, who is immensely talented and capable. I definitely recommend subscribing. Our newsletter covers a lot of topics in great detail, and we make sure we get practical information from working writers and illustrators as well as editors and art directors.

Our speaker’s bureau, which is our marketing co-op for professionals, is only a year old. We are seeing results already, but we expect it will take 2 years to really make an impact. As far as what works? I guess just the basic fundamentals of advertising and PR. Exposure. Repetition. And brand recognition. All that stuff that feels so crass and antithetical to what most writers are about. That’s what’s nice about a marketing co-op. You don’t have to toot your own horn; you let the marketing co-op do it for you.

But I have to finish by saying what gets said at every meeting, every conference, and every class. It makes everybody want to throw things (including me). What gets noticed is writing that is talented, proficient, polished, and professional. It’s trite, but it’s true. So if you’ve been slogging away, producing good work, but have not yet been discovered – DON”T GIVE UP!!! Keep writing and keep submitting. Somewhere out there, an editor is hungering to hear your voice. So put your fanny in the chair and speak up!

Posted by Vikk Simmons on June 29, 2004 at 12:00 PM in Publishing Business | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

June 28, 2004

Kimberly Morris on Publishing Matters

Day 5 and Kimberly Morris answers questions about her publishing company.

5. You have a terrific website and also your own custom publishing company. What are you working on now?

km_photothumbI’ve always got a lot of pots bubbling. I recently wrote a book for the Mary-Kate and Ashley Sweet Sixteen series called California Dreaming. And I’m getting ready to go to Tennessee to research a novel set against the backdrop of the 1925 Scopes Trial. When I get back, I’ll be a presenter at the Houston A Plus Challenge Conference to talk about collaborative writing and the methodology used to bring 300 student and teacher collaborators together on the manuscript for the Inventors Club. I just got back from New York where I had a meeting about the possibility of doing it as a television project. Publishing Matters is a custom content company. We shape content designed to serve marketing or education imperatives, and give it professional, trade-quality entertainment values that engage readers and hold their attention.

Posted by Vikk Simmons on June 28, 2004 at 12:00 PM in Publishing Business | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 24, 2004

Kimberly Morris speaks on new trends and new writers

Day 3 and questions for Kimberly Morris, our June 2004 Author of the Month, continue.

You mentioned new trends yesterday. Could you give one or two examples of what you mean--for those who might not immediately think of something?


New trends? Always. I guess the most significant for me is the trend away from mass market paperback series like Animorphs, Sweet Valley, and Goosebumps, to single title hard cover trade issues that lend themselves to sequels. Examples of this trend in middle grade would be the Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket books. In the young adult market, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants would be an example. A few years ago, these books would have probably come out first in paperbook with a 6-book launch. But in both cases, their distinctive voices and styles were better served by hard cover trade treatment, with publishers taking a "wait and see" position on sequels. Obviously, it was a good call. The shelves were glutted with mass market paperbacks and those books would probably have gotten lost. But the different positioning set those books apart and they have all been hugely successful.

3. Thanks. Those are great examples. Our third question is: Most of your writing is for children. Do you have any suggestions or cautions for new writers who are considering writing for children or who are early in the writing process?

I think many people choose to write for children in the mistaken belief that it is easier than writing for adults, or that it requires less talent and ability. That is not true. Someone (I don’t know who) once said that when you write for children, you must write the same way you would for adults – only better. I believe that’s very true. The children’s books that endure are characterized by wit, intelligence, and respect for the reader. So I suppose my advice to the aspiring children’s writer is this: Don’t learn to write for children. Just learn to write!

Posted by Vikk Simmons on June 24, 2004 at 12:00 PM in Authors & Interviews, Publishing Business, Writing Craft | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 23, 2004

Kimberly Morris tells writers to say YES to every single opportunity

Day 2 and our second question for our featured June 2004 Author of the Month:

2. Having had fifty-plus contracts, worked for a number of large publishing houses, been agented, and written for several major series, do you have any advice for writers regarding publishing as a business? Also, have you seen major changes in the business and noticed any new trends.


My advice for writers who are interested in writing as a business is to develop your technique. This will give you the confidence to say YES to every single opportunity. When somebody offers you work – TAKE IT! Don’t choke. Don’t get worried that you can’t do it because you haven’t done it before. Don’t panic. If you’re talented, and have worked on your technique, you will be amazed to discover how strong your abilities actually are. I never advise anyone to lie on a resume. First of all, it’s bad business. Plus, it’s too easy to get caught. On the other hand, don’t volunteer information that would make an editor nervous – like say, you have no idea what he or she is talking about. I once sat through an entire editorial meeting in which I was being hired to write an article for a music magazine about George Michael. We discussed the length, the topic, the style, and agreed upon a price and a delivery date. I actually had no earthly idea who George Michael was. But hey - she didn’t ask, and I didn’t tell. I walked out of that meeting and straight to the nearest music store. Three hours later, I was up to speed. I wrote the article, they loved it, and hired me to consult on a new magazine project.

New trends? Always. I guess the most significant for me is the trend away from mass market paperback series to single title hard cover trade issues that lend themselves to sequels.

Posted by Vikk Simmons on June 23, 2004 at 12:00 PM in Authors & Interviews, Publishing Business, Writing Craft | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)