Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Are You a Writer or An Author?

Sudipta Barthan-Quallen started off her PB workshop by saying, "There are writers and there are authors. Writers write for the pure joy of writing. They write what they love. Authors write to get published. They know the market and they write to it. There is nothing wrong with being either one, but you should know which one you are." (Okay, she may have said it a little better than that, but you get the gist.)

I knew the answer.

I started out as a writer who thought she was an author. I wrote cute, sweet little stories with great language. I happened to get lucky... I got a contract for Hop! Plop! in 2003.

In 2008, I became an author. I know the exact moment when it happened.

I subbed a PB manuscript to Stephen Barbara.

He wrote back saying, "I can see the Dr. Seuss influence here and the fine and playful grasp of language you have. I’m concerned though that this may not be quite a big enough concept in this difficult picture book market. Are you working on anything else?"

And I suddenly got it.

I had received five years of rejections saying, this is charming and we love your rhythm and rhyme, but we have to pass. But in that one line from Stephen Barbara, I got the gestalt. Something clicked. I finally understood that if I wanted to get another book published, I needed to WRITE SOMETHING BIGGER.

Something high concept. Something with mass appeal. Something with a strong hook.

Shortly after, I wrote THE THREE NINJA PIGS. I knew immediately that this one would sell. And it did.

Which category do you fall into? Are you sure?

17 comments:

Shannon O'Donnell said...

What an interesting post, Corey. I think I'm a writer, but one who is trying to work herself into an author. It isn't an easy transition.

I can't wait to buy Three Ninja Pigs!! :-)

Little Ms J said...

I'm not quite sure. I would like to be a ninja, but that wasn't the question, hm? :-)

Robin Mellom said...

Interesting post! I've been putting a lot of thought into the concept of "hook" lately. I think I finally get it. SO important. :-)

Beth Coulton said...

Love, love love the new look to your blog! I haven't been on for a while- it's terrific.

Very interesting post- never thought of it that way before. Right now I think I fall into the same category as writer-hoping-to-be-author-someday, but I'm writing for the pleasure of writing.

But I honestly never put a difference between the two.

I'll have to put that in my cap and think about it for a while....

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

I started as a writer. Somewhere along the way, I because an author. But I need to go back to being a writer, because it's just not fun anymore.

Tamika: said...

You raised a great point Corey. I do want to get published, I guess it just remains to be seen if I have the appeal readers will gravitate towards.

Lydia Kang said...

I am hoping to go through my metamorphosis of writer to author sometime in the next few years. Thanks for sharing your "A-ha" moment!

Rena said...

I'm not quite sure what I am.

雅俊芬凱陳許 said...

來看你了~心在、愛在、牽掛在,幸福才會繁衍不息^^............................................................

Mother Hen said...

Easy answer at the moment, just a writer who loves to write but who knows, someday I might be an author too

Rebecca said...

I'm a writer. Except when I'm writing with you. :-)

Susanne Drazic said...

Interesting post Corey. The Three Ninja Pigs sounds like a really cute book!

Corey Schwartz said...

Yes, well... Becky, you'll thank me when you get a PB deal :)

Julie Hedlund said...

I'm not sure what I am either - probably a writer at this stage. I'd be curious though, to know how you interpreted the feedback of writing something "bigger" and "high concept" and how you put that into practice.

I write in rhyme also, and I've been told that my rhythm and meter is good, playful, etc, but I'm not sure how to take it to that "next level."

Solvang Sherrie said...

I guess I'm a writer working to become an author...

Heidi Willis said...

What an insightful post! I think writers tend to turn their noses up at the idea of writing for publication. They want to write what they want, then have it sell.

I've discovered that doesn't always work. In the same way you did. :) And I lucked out on my first one, like you did.

The book I just wrote I don't think is a publishable one. Not that it isn't good. I just don't know that it's sellable. I'll revise and send it off anyway, but I've got another in my head that will be much better, I hope. And more sellable.

I'm working on making that transition I think.

kangaroobee said...

Being a bit of a ninja myself and a big fan of pigs, I can't wait to buy THE THREE NINJA PIGS, it sounds awesome! HIYA!

In transition now from writer to author, I can feel it...