From Blogging to Books: A Tour of Child/YA Lit Bloggers
The road to publication is not a straight line. It’s not even a single line. Sometimes it feels to me that there are as many ways to publish a book as there are books to publish. I started out as a children’s librarian. From there I started to blog. Then from blogging came some books. I never began the blog with the specific intent to publish someday. Some do, I suppose, and all power to them. For me, it was just a natural outgrowth of what I already do: Write every day.
So I got to thinking about others in my field who have followed similar paths from blogging to book publication. The successes, if you will. With that in mind, here are some names that come immediately to mind and in no particular order:
Jules Danielson – Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast (and, by extension, the late and great Peter Sieruta of Collecting Children’s Books) – I tapped Jules and Peter to write a book with me which is now slated for Spring 2014. The title? Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature. It will effectively put down the notion of children’s authors as fluffy, silly individuals. It was also, no surprise, a hoot to write.
Jay Asher – The Disco Mermaids – Oh, how quickly folks forget. But long before he came to fame via 13 Reasons Why, Jay Asher was one of three blogger/writers known as The Disco Mermaids. I should know. I have one of their coffee cups in my cabinet even as I write this. The blog officially ended in 2009 (I am trying not to think of how long ago that was) but it remains in our hearts and minds, and on our servers, still.
Tanita Davis – [fiction, instead of lies] and Finding Wonderland – Want to know how dedicated Tanita is to blogging? Well, her first post went up in 2005 and she hasn’t stopped yet. All this in spite of the fact that she’s written such YA showstoppers as Happy Families, Mare’s War, A La Carte, and the more that are sure to come.
Gwenda Bond – Shaken & Stirred – Don’t be fooled by its fancy new URL. The original Shaken & Stirred premiered in 2002, making Gwenda perhaps the earliest children’s book/YA blogger-to-author crossover I know of. Her two books Blackwood and The Woken Gods prove her customary voice is capable of coming out in fiction as easily as through a bloggy format.
Colleen Mondor – Chasing Ray – People ask how I’m able to blog and write, but c’mon. I write picture books. How Colleen balances the two is beyond my ken. The author of The Map of Dead Pilots, Colleen’s blog (named, unsurprisingly, after Ray Bradbury) is remarkable not just because of the insightful plunges into hot topics in YA and juv literature, but also because she dedicates so much of her time to causes like helping to buy books for the Ballou Library. She’s a good man, Charlie Brown.
Monica Edinger – Educating Alice – Those who know Monica are aware that there are few individuals as keenly dedicated to the world of children’s literature as she. That’s why it was such a thrill to finally hold in my hands a galley of her upcoming Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad, slated to be released by Candlewick this fall. An early chapter book filled to brimming with facts and illustrated beautifully by Robert Byrd, if you read only one book this October, read this one. She has bridged the gap between blogger and author (of children’s books, since she’s written many professional ones in her time) ably.
Lenore Appelhans – Presenting Lenore – Blogging and writing is one thing here in the States. Now imagine blogging and writing in Germany! Not only that, Lenore has managed to write both a YA novel (Level 2) as well as a picture book (Chick-O-Saurus Rex, which was illustrated by her husband Daniel Jennewein) all at the same time, practically. Talk about wild flexibility!
Liz Burns – A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy – Professional resources can be a lot more difficult to write than fiction. It is probable that nobody knows this better than Liz, the librarian/blogger who isn’t afraid to use her SLJ site to dissect hot topics no one else has the chutzpah to discuss. Pop Goes the Library: Using Pop Culture to Connect to Your Whole Community was written alongside Sophie Brookover came out a couple years ago but Liz continues to plug it even now. THAT is how you do it, folks.
Sarah Stevenson – Finding Wonderland – It seems a bit unfair that someone like Sarah Stevenson should not only be an amazing blogger and not only a great author (check out her The Latte Rebellion if you don’t believe me) but also a top notch artist on top of it all. Seems to me a person should have to choose. One or the other. Instead, Sarah’s a triple threat and a heckuva nice gal.
Kelly Fineman – Writing and Ruminating – Too few of the people I’ve mentioned here moonlight as poets on the side. Kelly breaks with that tendency. The results are evident in picture books like At the Boardwalk while her poems have shown up in books like The National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry and Dare to Dream . . . Change the World amongst others. Well played, Kelly!!
By the way, I think it’s interesting to note that of the bloggers mentioned here, my agent represents four of them. He rules!!
I’m sure there are other children’s/YA literary bloggers turned authors (authors turned bloggers need not apply). If you can think of any, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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