My kids and I were blessed to receive all four biographies to review. I'm using them in our homeschool. As I read them, I thought of questions to ask Nancy because I'm always learning from her writing strategies. You might pick up a few tricks as well.
T: Did you land the contract to write these books BEFORE you wrote them?
N: Yes, I landed the contracts to write these four books before I wrote them. I was contacted by this publisher out of the blue because of two factors: 1)The publisher had seen my nonfiction book, Frederick Douglass for Kids, and liked it so thought I might be a potential author to write these books. 2)The senior editor also recommended my name for the project because I used to work with her as my editor when she was at a smaller publisher.
T: Were these biographies your idea or an in-house idea?
N: These were the idea of the publisher, but they gave me freedom to develop the concept based on the design they wanted to produce. It was very exciting!
T: What kinds of research did you have to do?
N: First, I conducted research to develop/flesh out the concept of the book. I walked through the children's nonfiction section in my local library and grabbed several tote bags full of nonfiction children's books. Then I came home and spread all these books out on my dining room table. I scanned through all of them over the next couple of days and picked out features in each one that I liked the best such as a word bank with definitions at the bottom of most pages, icons for young readers to identify key components in the book, and an illustrated timeline.
Next, I researched what type of research books I needed to use to complete this project. I went on Amazon and also the publisher's website and made a wish-list of reference books I'd need such as encyclopedias of Bible history and biographies of Bible characters both for adult references and children's books. From this I made a list of must-haves and a list of wanna-haves. I talked with my publisher and they were able to provide me with a number of these titles free of charge. (I always ask my publishers for their own titles when I start on a new project and many have been very helpful to send me references to help me on my journey.) Then I decided on a budget that I wanted to invest and bought quite a number of research books (mostly used books on Amazon) as well.
Finally, I developed a rhythm of research, write, edit, research, write, edit that I worked on as I actually wrote the books.
T: Did you have to choose all the photographs, maps, and paintings? If so, how did that work?
N: No, I didn't have to choose all the photographs, maps, and paintings. However, I did recommend potential ones throughout the manuscript, but then the publisher had a team who actually looked for and acquired these. Basically, if I found an image I recommended, I gave the credit line as well as a thumbnail of the image so the publisher could find something similar to what I recommended.
T: How long did it take to write one of these books? How long did you have to write the series?
N: The publisher was on a tight deadline so I had just one month to write each book with a total of four months for all four. This was quite a challenge, and I had to work late into the night and on weekends as well, but all-in-all, it was such an exciting adventure!
T: Will there be more books in this series?
Not sure yet, but I hope so! I'm eager to write more.
Thanks so much, Nancy, for being our guest! Just from the interview, I've picked up great advice, and I hope you have too!
|Nancy & I --4 yrs ago before I moved to Korea|
Nancy I. Sanders
Author of nearly 100 books including the ground-breaking how-to book for children's writers:
Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children's Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career
Author of Jesus, Mary, Apostle Paul, King David, four books in the Get to Know Series of first biographies for kids
Book's site: http://gettoknowbiographies.wordpress.com/