In the Spotlight: Jon Bard of the Children’s Book Insider

The Children’s Book Insider (CBI) and The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)  have both played a role in helping me to realize my dream of publishing a children’s picture  book.  Both offer wonderful advice and suggestions to help writers along their sometimes lonesome and frustrating  journey of getting published. The Children’s Book Insider (CBI) website and newsletter offers fantastic tips from experts in the industry such as Karen Robertson of Treasure Kai.  I had a chance to speak to Jon Bard who started the Children’s Book Insider with his wife, Laura Backes. 

Tell us how you became the Editor at CBI?

We’re a family business.  When I met my wife (and partner) Laura, she was a children’s literary agent in NYC.  I owned a PR firm.  She loved children’s books, but wasn’t crazy about agenting.  I was about done with PR.

Whenever someone found out what Laura did for a living, odds were we’d hear “Really?  I’ve always wanted to write a children’s book, but I have no idea how to do it….”.  That’s when we realized there was potential in starting a business that taught ordinary folks how to write children’s books.

That was in 1990, and we’re still going strong!

What resources does CBI offer writers?

The monthly newsletter is still the heart and soul of the business.  That’s where we offer in-depth instruction, interviews with top authors, agents and editors and, of course, fresh market leads.

Over the years, we’ve added a great deal to our offerings, most notably our members-only website at http://cbiclubhouse.com  Our subscribers — we lovingly call them The Fightin’ Bookworms — have access to scores of articles, hours of audio and video and much more.

In the past 6 months, we revamped it extensively, adding The CBI 1-2-3 Publishing System and an amazing panel of Expert Guides to provide content and answer questions.  Some of our Expert Guides include Newbery Honoree Kirby Larson, Anastasia Suen, author of more than 135 books and Christopher Award-winning author Linda Arms White.  They’re an incredible resource for our members.

 How has the publishing landscape changed over the past few years with the addition of Apps, eBooks, iBooks, etc.

It’s a truly exciting time to write for children. For the first time, the power is really in the author’s hands.  No more waiting around for others to open doors for you — writers can now kick the door wide open.  Apps, eBooks, print on demand…they each give writers who are willing to cultivate a community of readers and make use of the technology that’s available to them a real edge.

Obviously there are some downsides — with fewer gatekeepers, the “crap to good book ratio” is a lot higher, and not every writer relishes the idea of community building, social media marketing and self-promotion.  But I think things will sort themselves out over time, and that writers can learn that marketing is just another name for communication.  And, as writers, what else are we but communicators?

What advice can you give aspiring writers?

* Be bold and different.  No one needs another alphabet book or a book about cute animals that teaches “it’s OK to be different”.  Your readers — particularly middle grade and young adult readers – demand more sophistication and more creativity.  Take advantage of that.  They’re practically begging you to be a little weird, a little out there.  What fun!

* Don’t preach.  Getting a message across is fine, but kids can smell a patronizing sermon from a mile away, no matter how young they are.  Make your point by example, and use a very light touch.

* Don’t automatically say “I can’t do that“.  Of course you can learn social media, of course you can blog, of course you can set up Skype visits to schools, of course you can create an app.  You just don’t know how to do it yet.  It’s not that hard.  Keep an open mind to new things and get excited about the opportunities they provide.

* Don’t quit.  Every successful author has a litany of rejection tales.  If a few rejections or some criticism is enough to put you out the game, you don’t want it badly enough.  If you hit the wall, try a different style, or try writing something that’s 180 degrees opposite from what you usually write.  But don’t quit.

To help your readers stay inspired, I have a free eBook called, appropriately, “Don’t Quit!”.  It’s our Expert Guides’ best advice to authors about how to overcome discouragement, rejection and doubt.  It’s something that can really help out if the road to success seems cloudy.  Anyone who wants it can grab it by going to http://bit.ly/dontquitbk

Jon Bard is Managing Editor and co-owner of Children’s Book Insider, the Newsletter for Children’s Writers.  Dreaming about writing a book for children or teens?  Come Hang with the Fightin’ Bookworms of the CBI Clubhouse at http://cbiclubhouse.com

Inspiring words Jon!  Thank you for your time. 

FACEBOOK PARTY with loads of goodies to be had!

FACEBOOK PARTY DETAILS:  Just go to Penelope the Purple Pirate Facebook Page HERE: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Penelope-the-Purple-Pirate/184530521575620?ref=hl on Monday the 13th at 5:30 pm PST to join in on the FUN and GIVEAWAYS! 

Mates! Please join us on August 13th at 5:30 pm PST on Penelope’s Facebook Page where Jon and Laura will be our guests along with Author/Illustrator J.H. Everett, Author Merrily Kutner and Author Chris Pedersen.   Join in while we talk about the love of reading and writing with our crew! Also, we have a fantastic giveaway going on with over $600 worth of treasure to be had!  Check in the Current Giveaway section.  And more goodies will be handed out at the Facebook Party on the 13th so mark your calenders!

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