The May/June issue of Writer’s Digest is dedicated to those who write for children and teens, so I did my ill-coordinated happy dance when it arrived and jumped right in. According to what I read, I’m right on the mark where I need to be, and since Writer’s Digest says I’m doing well, I’m certain others will soon figure this out about me too, and I’ll become a rich indie author.
Ok, but I am where I need to be, I think.
I felt like my book was homeless when I finished it, which is part of why I decided to forgo all the jumping through hoops in search of an agent who would then search for a publisher. I figured my story didn’t really fit anywhere well, so it would have to do as I have always done, and non-conform, see who might pick up on it anyway. But as it turns out, my book does fit as a piece of Middle-Grade literature. Between that and Young Adult fiction, my story Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages falls into the middle, Middle-Grade that is. Yet somehow most of the readers I know of have been adults, and not necessarily all even female. I guess I’ve told a timeless, possibly genderless, story. We’ve all gone through the tortures of middle school, right? Also, I don’t often get feedback from that age group because they don’t really do that. I need to enlist the gatekeepers, their parents, teachers, aunts… My book fills the criteria properly, but I still need to reach them.
But even after checking on my word count and the appropriateness of my characters and content, I felt pleased. But what of my soon-to-be-released sequel? My middle schooler protagonist is moving up to high school, my word count is increasing, and some more serious issues will arise, though Drew always tries to keep it light. So, now my series is moving into the Young Adult world. Will that make it hard to categorize my series? It’s moving from one age group to another. I guess I hoped my readers could grow along with Drew, but is it an awkward change? Is my book series going through puberty? Is that even allowed? J.K. Rowling got away with it as everyone read about Harry and his buddies as they grew up. This worked well for her, so here’s hoping (I would cross my fingers, but I already type slowly)
I plan to launch my sequel at the end of May. I’m both excited and want to throw up. I had no idea what I was doing the first time I self published my book, but now I’ve done a little more research and publicity, though all the free kind. Last time, I put the book on Kindle and then started telling people about it here and there. This time I’m planning to shout it from as many rooftops (social media) as possible ahead of time, and to enlist my friends and fans to help.
I’m proud of my sequel. My writing and content have matured and it’s more polished. I also think Drew, my semi-autobiographical protagonist, is a fun, interesting character. In the same Writer’s Digest issue, I also read an article by Jacquelyn Mitchard on “Standout Series Characters” and I think Drew fits this concept:
“One of the most important characteristics of a character who’ll become part of a teen or a kid’s life for several years has a simple, relatable likability.”
Of course, I also read this gem about the fine balance of writing a sequel, a tedious task:
“One of the most difficult things in the word world is to write the second book in a series. The challenge for a good writer is finding the balance– appealing to the reader who’s meeting these characters for the first time and making sure the reader who knows the character already isn’t utterly bored.”
I think I got it right, and soon readers will be able to confirm this for me.