Blogger: Wendy Lawton
I received the email below a couple of weeks ago. As I began to answer this I decided I should tackle the answer here and then let you chew on this with me and help me come up with the real answers.
Here’s the email:
I am a student at a community college and would like to know if you would PLEASE give me brief advice on the type of degree I need or classes that would help me write children’s books or more specifically a line of children’s books.
I live in [deleted] and want to look at my path through an agents eyes to pair with my school’s counseling center’s advice.
First, it is tough to be brief with a question like this one. There’s much to consider. Let’s look at five things here but focus on the comment section for the real wisdom.
- I would say that the people to answer this question would be the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). I noticed that grants given by SCBWI are given to students majoring in English or Creative Writing programs, so those two majors would be one bit of advice.
- Most agents would not recommend creative writing programs because they tend to focus on literary fiction as opposed to commercial fiction. Why would an agent steer an author away from literary toward commercial? Hint: Commercial means that which sells.
- English, of course, would be the major most likely to prepare you to write. Journalism is also a good major for someone who wants to write professionally. But let me come back to that.
- Authors need to be communicators on many levels these days. I’d suggest you not stint on speech classes (you’ll make a good part of your income doing school visits and speaking). You’ll also want to learn everything you can about social media.If I were you, I’d learn to design and run a website as well.
- I don’t want to discourage you in any way but let’s talk turkey here. There are precious few writers making a living as children’s authors. And if you are going to be one of those who does make a living, or even a fortune (it could happen), it will take a number of years to get there. If you don’t have a patron of the arts (also called a working spouse) you are going to need to support yourself while you write. When I look at the list of successful Books & Such clients I see teachers, a pharmacist, doctors, pastors, lawyers, a biochemist, artists,construction workers, firemen, social media experts, etc., etc. All that to say this: you may want to get a dual major– the one that prepares you to write and the one that will put food on the table while you are building your writing career.
Okay, blog community, your turn. I’ve let this student know you’ll be chiming in today so what advice would you give her?
Which college major prepares me to write successfully? Click to Tweet
English? Creative Writing? Journalism? Which is the best college major for a writer? Click to Tweet