Deborah UnderwoodI am so honored to introduce you to Deborah Underwood, our March featured author for 12 x 12. I, like many others, came to Deborah’s work first through THE QUIET BOOK. I loved it so much that one night when my mom came over for dinner, I read it to her and said, “THIS is why I love picture books and THIS is why I want to write them.”Β 

THE QUIET BOOK is one where, after you read it, you smack your forehead and say, “Of COURSE! What a great idea. I SO wish I’d written that book.” Yet, writing a book with the word quiet in the title at a time when agents and editors reject manuscripts all the time on the basis of their being “too quiet” takes courage. A trait Deborah carries in spades. So instead of asking her to write a post on one topic, I (selfishly) sent her a series of questions so we could dig deeper into the choices she’s made in her career and her writing. I was beyond inspired by her answers, and I’m sure you will be too. Please welcome Deborah!

1. As if picture books weren’t hard enough to sell, you’ve been published in two nichesThe Quiet Book that are especially difficult to break into — concept books (The Quiet Book) and and holiday books (The Easter Cat). Agents and editors often advise authors to shy away from writing these types of books, but many of us (myself included!) still do. What is your NUMBER ONE piece of advice to authors attempting to break into these niches?

It would be the same as the number one piece of advice I’d give to authors trying to break into any area of kids’ publishing: write to please yourself, not the market.

It’s funny you mention those two books, because they were the two manuscripts that might have seemed the most hopeless in terms of marketing. If I’d been focusing on marketability, I certainly wouldn’t have written a book called THE QUIET BOOK when so many manuscripts are rejected for being too quiet. And I wouldn’t have written an 80-page picture book, or drawn my own rough illustrations for HERE COMES THE EASTER CAT–talk about breaking rules!

I think both of those books turned out well because I was writing them for myself: because *I* was fascinated by the idea of different types of quiet, because *I* was snickering on my bed as I scribbled out the conversation between Cat and the narrator. And I hasten to add that it is not easy for me to ignore the lure of trying to write for the market; I have to continually check myself and steer back on course if I’ve veered in that direction.

2. Authors are also told not to pitch manuscripts to agents or editors as potential series. Did you pitch THE QUIET BOOK as a series or were THE LOUD BOOK and THE CHRISTMAS QUIET book only suggested after the success of the first?EasterCat_CVR_lo

Nope, I didn’t pitch it as a series. After we finished work on QUIET, my editor suggested LOUD, so we were working on that even before QUIET came out. Then after QUIET pubbed, I suggested CHRISTMAS QUIET, and she said yes.

3. Did you feel pressure for THE LOUD BOOK to be as beloved as THE QUIET BOOK? What advice would you give authors who are writing a second or even third book and beyond following a popular title?

Oh, absolutely. Honestly, the time before LOUD came out was one of the most stressful periods I’ve had as a writer. There’s *so* much self-inflicted pressure to live up to a previous success. (I want to be clear that this pressure wasn’t coming from my editor at all; it was all my own doing.)

And on top of that, it feels churlish to complain: “Boo hoo! Poor me! I’ve had a successful book and I’m worried about the next one!” Before I’d sold a book, if one of my friends had whined about the burden of doing a sequel to her bestseller, I would have wanted to whap her. So the difficulty is magnified because you don’t have your usual support system.

My advice would be what a well-known author told me when I asked her for advice: do your best to keep the publisher from rushing you. I think a lot of the sequel-fail incidents come about because the author just doesn’t have enough time, and when a publisher is pushing you, it’s hard to push back. And sometimes you can’t.Β  But you can, as always, try to focus on the work itself and not all the external pressures.

4. I feel a kinship with you because, like me, you wrote a storybook app. The app is called SPATTER AND SPARK, is fully-interactive, adorable (we own it), and was published by Polk Street Press. How did you get involved with that project? Did you find your writing process was different for the app versus your picture books?

I’m so glad you like it! I’m really proud of it. I was approached by the Polk Street founder, who happens to live in my city. We had tea and it felt like a good fit, so I pitched some ideas, she chose the one she liked best, and we took it from there.

The process was different in some ways. Since apps were so new to me, it was hard to wrap my head around the possibilities at first. It was really important to me that the interactivity be part of the story; I didn’t want just goofy things to poke and swipe that didn’t advance the plot. So it was fun to stretch that way. And the speed with which it came together–partly because of the incredibly quick yet fabulous work by the illustrator, Luciana Navarro Powell–was mind-boggling, since I’m used to glacial picture book timeframes.

But of course I also wanted to make sure there was a strong story, just as there would be in a traditional picture book. So in that way the writing process was the same.

5. Do you foresee more digital publishing projects in your future? Do you recommend authors and illustrators explore digital publishing as a means of publishing more of their work?

I’d love to do more app work, and I have a lot of ideas. But it seems like confusing territory right now. I think everyone’s wrestling with the how-do-we-make-money-on-apps question. I’m hoping things settle down so there’s a clearer path for those of us who want to get involved.

Digital book publishing is also a murky area for me. For now, focusing on traditional makes sense for me, and probably makes sense for people who don’t have the inclination to do all their own marketing. Plus I think there’s nothing like a physical picture book in the hands of a child, and I want to help get those books out there.

Bad Bye Good Bye6. Your book EASTER CAT was released earlier this year and BAD BYE releases April 1st. Can you tell us a bit about BAD BYE and what it’s like to have two books released so close together?

BAD BYE, GOOD BYE pairs a very spare rhyming text with wonderful illustrations by Jonathan Bean. It’s a child’s emotional journey as he moves from one town to another. It was my first rhyming manuscript to sell, and I was particularly excited because I got to work with my fabulous QUIET BOOK editor again. It started out as a few words that I scribbled on a page, then abandoned in my “ideas” file for ages. I’m fairly sure I pulled it out again because I had a critique meeting coming up and nothing to bring–critique meetings are great motivational tools!

There will be about two months between EASTER CAT and BAD BYE releases, but the pub dates still feel pretty close. It is tricky trying to juggle promotion for two books at once, especially since I’m also writing the third book in the Cat series now as well as working on some educational projects.

But my first three picture books were released within two months of each other, so it could be worse!

7. How involved are you in the marketing and promotion of your books? Do you advise authors to establish a platform before publishing?

Every author I know struggles with this. I do some things–bookstore appearances, guest blogs, etc.–but I don’t take months off to promote the way some folks do. I’ve been a bit more involved than usual in CAT marketing: I drafted a letter that went out to booksellers about it pre-publication, and I’m doing the same for HERE COMES SANTA CAT, and I’m doing more interviews/guest posts than usual.

I’m sure a platform is a great idea for some folks, but I don’t think I could manage that and write. I advise people to do what feels comfortable to them PLUS a few stretch things. For example, I love Facebook and am very comfortable there, but that feels less like promotion and more like just being part of a community. But Twitter is tricky for me, so I’m making more of an effort to have a presence there–that’s one of my marketing-stretch things for this year.

One lucky 12 x 12 participant will received signed copies of both HERE COMES THE EASTER CAT and BAD BYE, GOOD BYE from Deborah. Plus, I am throwing in a copy of THE QUIET BOOK from me (not signed). In addition to being fabulous books to simply read and enjoy, they make excellent mentor texts for writing spare rhyme, holiday themes and concept books. Are your fingers in position over those keyboards? Good – because I’m sure you’ll want to write and revise this month to improve your chance of winning this trove of books.

Deborah Underwood’s books include Here Comes the Easter Cat; Bad Bye, Good Bye; A Balloon for Isabel; Pirate Mom; and the New York Times bestsellers The Quiet Book and The Loud Book! She co-wrote the Sugar Plum Ballerina chapter book series, and she has written over 25 nonfiction books on topics ranging from smallpox to ballroom dancing. Her magazine credits include National Geographic Kids, Ladybug, Spider, and Highlights. Please visit her online at DeborahUnderwoodBooks.com.

Categories: 12 x 12, 12 x 12 Featured Author, Apps, Authors, Books, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, Picture Books, Publishing, Rhyming, Social Media, Storybook Apps, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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254 Comments

  1. Huge fan of your books! I use them in the classroom to teach writing. And I can’t wait to get my hands on your new ones! πŸ™‚ It’s so encouraging to hear that the quiet book was thought of as “too quiet,” and yet, it made it out into the world! πŸ™‚

  2. love your books Deborah! thank you for sharing your experience with the process of writing a ‘loud’ book before the ‘quiet’ was released.

  3. Melanie Lucero

    Thank you so much for your insights Deborah! I think the part about remembering to write for yourself, not the market, is particularly important advice. Looking forward to your new books!

  4. Michele Norman

    Thank for sharing your advice and experience and most of all, for your books!

  5. What an informative and inspiring interview! Thanks so much for sharing, Deborah and Julie. I also found the advice to write for yourself especially encouraging. Congratulations on your upcoming books, Deborah!

  6. Great tips! Congrats, Deborah!

  7. Terrific interview, Deborah and Julie!

  8. Great information. Thank you. The wheels are turning now on things I need to do.

  9. Thanks Deborah. I love, love your Quiet Book. Can’t wait to read your latest two. Thanks for sharing your story on 12×12.

  10. Thank you, Deborah. The themes for your books are terrific.

  11. I got The Quiet Book and Here comes the Easter Cat from the library this month, and loved them both. It’s nice to hear someone encouraging us to write to please ourselves, because some of my ideas are pretty far out there. πŸ™‚

  12. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us, Deborah. I totally agree with your comment β€œwrite to please yourself, not the market.” And I also like that you broke the rules when writing, HERE COMES THE EASTER CAT… an 80-page picture book! I like knowing that there is hope for long format picture books out there

  13. Great post Deborah! It is too easy to get trapped into thinking about the market instead of what truly inspires us as writers. I can’t wait to read your new books!

  14. Hahaha, thank you Deborah and Julie. This post made me feel so comfortable while reading it. Kinda like the three of us were sitting in a bookstore, drinking coffee (or tea), and talking all things writing. I love breaking rules and someday I’ll do that too. (When I’m firmly grounded as a published writer.) I HOPE I win. Our library system stinks. All the books are at least 5 years old. So I have to buy newer picture books to read. When I’m published, I plan on donating picture books, so no writer has to go through what I’m going through. And so that the kids have fresh new titles to read.

  15. Great post! And am always extra delighted to see/hear/read the word CHURLISH!

  16. Thank you for sharing!

  17. Great interview, Julie, and thanks, Deborah, for sharing your experience and advice.

  18. Love your books, Deborah–thanks so much for sharing your experiences!

  19. Emily Peters Schoenfelder

    I love the Quiet Book! Looking forward to reading the new releases. I especially needed to be reminded of writing for myself, it’s a hard balance to write what I love vs. what I think is more marketable. Great perspective.

  20. I am a BIG fan of your books, Deborah, and your FB humor!! Great advice, thank you.

  21. Wow, what a great interview and a great inspiration. Thanks so much!

  22. We writers do need to hear that we should be writing for ourselves. While we all hope to be published one day, I doubt any of us can really reach that goal if we “fake” it. Each of us has to write for our own spirit. Of course, the dream is that some editor out there will get our vibe and invite us to begin that enviable journey into the publishing world.

    Thanks for sharing your insight.

  23. Loved this post – everything seems so doable when Deborah talks about it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

  24. Thanks for the inspiration Deborah! Do what feels right…I like that.

  25. Thanks for the insights! I love your books, Deborah!

  26. Thank you for doing the interview and the inspiration. Best of luck to you with your 2 new releases.

  27. Deborah, this was such fun to read! I felt like it was a conversation and was a little disappointed to have it end. Thanks for letting us have a glimpse inside. All the best on your upcoming books! πŸ™‚

  28. I appreciate you sharing your dedication to writing to please yourself, and your honesty about that same aspect with regard to having an online platform in the way that is comfortable and “you” also. Excellent advice — thank you Deborah.

  29. Great post! I got my copy of Easter Cat about a week ago and I love it – so funny! πŸ™‚

  30. Wonderful post Deborah. Thanks for your advice and inspiration!

  31. What a wonderful post! I felt as though it was written just for me – my pb’s are quiet, rhyming, concept mostly. You have given me faith in following my heart. Thanks so much for your words! Can’t wait to get back to the library – as soon as it stops snowing – and check out some of your books. πŸ™‚

  32. Thanks for being so open, Deborah. I hope we meet at a conference sometime!

  33. I LOVE The Quiet Book, and enjoyed reading this blog. You’re so right about crit groups being great motivators. I’ve often searched files for mss and done some quick revisions a day or two before a meeting.

  34. Those were great “dig deeper” questions, Julie. Thank you, Deborah, for your revealing answers and interview. Thanks for what you said about writing for yourself (I think about/wrestle with this all the time) and I thought it was interesting that the time frames, in your experience, were so vastly different for storybook apps vs. traditional picture books. Looking forward to reading BAD BYE, GOOD BYE in April and love how that book came about because of an approaching critique group meeting!

  35. I love the Q/A format for the featured author post. Your words are very encouraging, Deborah. It’s kind of what I always want to hear – write what moves you. I’m dying to see what an 80 page picture book looks like. I’ll be on the lookout for Easter Cat…

  36. Thank you, Julie, for asking the questions we want to ask. Thank you, Deborah, for such great answers. I can hardly wait for Easter Cat.

  37. There was a lot of good advice here and now I have new books to seek out. Thanks!

  38. The Quiet Book is absolutely brilliant and a great concept! Thanks for sharing your story, Deborah; it gives all of us hope that our unusual books that don’t fit certain popular categories may one day make it. πŸ™‚

  39. What an excellent, open informative interview. I look forward to reading the “Quiet” book — which I’ve seen on the shelf and admired — among your others. Thank you Deborah!

  40. I’m so glad that you advised us to write what we love, not what is marketable. I struggle with that all of the time, but the stories I love always win out!

  41. I can’t wait to read your new books. Thanks for the inspiration in your interview given here.

  42. Thanks for the informative interview, Julie and Deborah. I love your books Deborah., Here Comes the Easter Cat is hilarious! What a character. I’m thrilled there are sequels!

  43. Thank you for providing us with such a helpful, honest interview chock full of great tips. I am putting all of your books on my “must read” list, Deborah. Thank you!

  44. Thanks for sharing your honest feelings and advice!

  45. Thanks so much to you all for your kind words about the interview and about my books. And thanks again to Julie for inviting me and for her great questions.

    Best of luck with your own writing!

  46. I am so pleased to see someone else give the green light for writing what feels good and not what is someone else’s wish. Many of the MSs I write seem quiet to me, and I am constantly wondering what else I can do to make them more marketable. It’s a tug of war and also a balancing act. Thanks for sharing your feelings and experience. I look forward to reading all of your books!

  47. Very interesting, great Q&A! I LOVE the quiet book and will be looking out for the new ones!

  48. Debbie Austin

    Thanks, Deborah and Julie. I love The Quiet Book and The Loud Book. You say so much with so few words. I’m off to put Easter Cat on hold at my library.

  49. Hats off to you, Deborah…for your courage.And talent. And creativity. Many thanks for sharing some of your incredible journey…it is very helpful to read how others have gone through this process…and emerged successfully! In your case, wildly successfully.:) Congratulations…can’t wait to read ‘Bad Bye, Goodbye’!

  50. I hadn’t thought how the pressure of a sequel is doubled because you can’t share your angst without sounding like a whiny baby who doesn’t appreciate good fortune. But it’s even harder than writing the first when you have lots of support. Maybe a SEQUEL SUPPORT GROUP is needed? πŸ™‚

  51. Lovely interview! Congratulations on all your books. The Easter Cat book looks fun!

  52. Fantastic, insightful interview, thank you! Can’t wait to read Easter Cat!

  53. Thanks for sharing. Keep pleasing yourself, because you’re also pleasing the rest of us.

  54. I so appreciated this interview. As one who has a real problem thinking about the market when writing, it helped to find out that it is possible to write for yourself and still be successful.

  55. Thank you so much for reenforcing writing from the heart instead of the market! My first book published was a concept book that teaches shapes & holidays. I’m actually working on 2 more concept books now too. πŸ™‚
    Happy writing!

  56. Deborah, it’s so wonderful to hear of your successes. I remember your talk at SCBWI two years ago in LA and all the nuggets of wisdom you had for us writers then. Thanks for being so generous with your advice.

  57. Deborah, thank you for your courage and calm reassurance. I can’t hear enough times from published authors to write what I want, not what the market wants. I need it to be my mantra!

  58. Thanks Deborah! I love what you say about writing to please yourself and not the market. If it’s not something that commands my heart, then it’s not going to command my attention. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the market advice out there. This reminds me that no matter what I learn through my PB research, etc, above all “to thine ownself be true.”

  59. Margaret Greanias

    I love the Quiet Book. And can’t wait to read Easter cat! Thank you for an insightful interview!

  60. Awe-inspiring interview! πŸ˜€

  61. Wonderful post! I am putting The Quiet Book on my to be purchased books. πŸ™‚

  62. Great post! I’m fortunate that I have a bunch of baby great nieces and nephews for whom I buy books and a great children’s book store in our town which stocks many titles. I’ll add The Quiet Book to my shopping list. And thanks for the reminder to write for our hearts and not the market. We writers can’t hear that too often
    .

  63. I will always remember how you told the SCBWI-LA conference of THE QUIET BOOK was born. It inspires me to stay present to what is around me. If I rush through life I may miss all the details.

  64. Thank you for a great interview Julie and Deborah. I am looking forward to Easter Cat πŸ™‚

  65. I’m on my way to the library tomorrow to read your books.
    It does my heart good to know that doing all the social media stuff isn’t necessarily needed.
    I appreciated your direct honesty.

  66. Yay Deborah! You always give the best advice on writing what you love. πŸ˜€ And I love what you write, so it WORKS! Can’t wait for Easter Cat and Bad Bye, Good Bye!!

  67. Congratulations on your latest books, Deborah! I love how you write to please yourself and then are able to share your stories with young children, and their parents!

  68. Thank you for sharing your expertise Deborah! I have to agree re: remembering to write for yourself, it is a very important piece of advice for me. it takes off the pressure and allows creativity to flow more freely. I feel so honored to be here with all inspiring authors/illustrators! Success is ours for 2014!

  69. I am surely going to buy The Easter Cat for my grandson if I don’t win a book from Julie & you. good to know an author can break the rules and do it her way every now & then!

  70. Beth Anderson

    Thanks for sharing your insights! Was great to hear your thoughts on apps and platforms.

  71. Stacy S. Jensen

    Great advice for our writer selves and love to read your great books with my son. Thank you.

  72. I NEED to get HERE COMES THE EASTER CAT!!! πŸ˜€

  73. Deborah’s story of success is a Monday morning inspiration for me.

  74. Great interview Deborah -you really make marvelous books, and a lot of sense, thank you. Just curious, how come 99% of the comments are by women?

  75. Wonderful advice; thank you for sharing. I just checked my library and both the QUIET and LOUD books are finally available…they’re always checked out! Much success on your upcoming publications, Deborah. :0)

  76. Thanks for the reminder to write for yourself. I love “The Quiet Book” and “The Christmas Quiet Book”, and I look forward to reading more of your work.

  77. Love your books and wishing you continued success. Great advice BTW! Thank you.

  78. Good interview, great advice! Thanks Patti Zelch

  79. This is so insightful! It’s so nice to hear someone say that writing for yourself can still get you published. I read the quiet book while waiting for an employee to locate a cookbook for me and like Julie I thought “Damn that’s a good idea! Why didn’t I think of that?” Hope that someday someone will say the same about one of my books!

  80. Such fantastic advice! Can’t wait to read her books … they sound and look wonderful! Great post!

  81. This is wonderful! Thank you!!!

  82. Love your books.

  83. Time to add a couple more books to the TBR pile!

  84. Great interview. I look forward to checking out your books.

  85. Follow our hearts, write that quiet book! Thanks Deborah and Julie for this inspiring interview!

  86. Deborah, Thanks for being candid about the pressure, your support team/friends, and your tenacity to write through your intuitive process and use your knowledge as a published author of kid’s books and ap. Spatter & Spark are charming. The Quiet Book is on my list. Congratulations!

  87. kelly mcdonald

    This was fantasticly inspiring. id love to be able to say… a sequel to MY best seller πŸ˜‰ great post. kelly (artist) mcdonald

  88. I remember gasping at the beauty of the Quiet Book and being thrilled when the Loud Book came out. I am so looking forward to Bad Bye–what a great idea, and how fortunate to have Jonathan Bean as an illustrator! Thank you for the reminder to write for ourselves.

  89. Great interview! So full of wonderful information – thanks so much for sharing. (And I love The Quiet Book!)

  90. Pamela Hamilton

    I’d not heard of “The Quiet Book” before. Now I am anxious to check it out of the library! Thanks, Deborah and Julie, for a fun, informative interview/

  91. Sheri McCrimmon

    Thank you Deborah and Julie. Great post – reminder to write what I love. Holding on to the joy of writing and the gratitude that comes with it. Love, love love The Quiet Book (love the gentle illustrations too)! I write a lot of concept books :).

  92. Great interview. I just bought Easter Cat and OMG I love it! It’s so funny. πŸ™‚

  93. Thank you for sharing with us, and particularly for your honestly about the pressure to keep delivering that can sometimes accompany the publication process.

  94. thank you Deborah Underwood. It is so inspiring to read about the wonderful things happening to fellow writers. Congratulations on your books and apps. Your comments about writing from ourselves resonates strongly with me. My work is always flat when I try to squeeze into other people’s dictates. I don’t mean sensible edit suggestions but the ‘do this to get your name known’ kind of things. Thank you for your time and sharing your insights.

  95. I really like The Easter Cat πŸ™‚ Thank you for your insights and informative post.

  96. Inspiring post! Thanks so much for all your experiences and insights, Deborah! I love your books.

  97. I found the article inspiring when she said to write for yourself not the market. I am going to look into both quiet and loud books for gifts and templates for concept book outline.

  98. RogueAnthropologist

    An encouraging book and I can’t wait to read her books!

  99. I love the idea that she didn’t worry about the rules. I know myself, I go through phases where I get too caught up in the “supposed” to and forget about the… oh wait, I just love this, so I should just DO it!

  100. Oh, how I love your books!! I’m so glad you said that you don’t stop writing to go out and promote your books. I feel like too much emphasis (sometimes) is put on promo and not enough on writing and manuscripts can suffer because of that!

  101. I am now more interested in figuring out how to create storybook apps. Thank you Deborah & Julie

  102. Becky Scharnhorst

    Thank you Julie for asking such great questions and thank you Deborah for your honest and inspiring responses. As a new writer I have often been overwhelmed by the shoulds and shoudn’ts of writing for the market as well as the “necessity” of putting together a platform. I know that what I need to do right now is focus on my writing, even if what I’m writing isn’t marketable. Thank you for affirming that it’s ok to write for ourselves and to do what feels comfortable in regard to platform, marketing, social media, etc. I’m incredibly thankful for this interview. It came at the perfect time.

  103. What a great in-depth interview. I appreciated both the thoughtful questions and the detailed and honest perspective given in Deborah’s responses. Thank you both!

  104. What a great interview. Deborah, thank you for being so candid. I breathed a sigh of relief in hearing you say find a marketing way that works for you, and to follow your own calling (write for yourself). It seems like so many people say you have to have a blog, rule Twitter and Facebook, make & post videos, etc,, and the list of ‘must do’s’ is so long that sometimes it’s hard to breathe let alone get actual work done! Good fortune in all you do. Your books are great.

  105. Thanks for taking time for the interview, Deborah. Reading this, I feel a bit like that person with and angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. Angel–Oh, isn’t it fabulous that she has had such success and managed to write not only a published picture book or two (or more) but one at least that sounds like it could be a classic. Devil–Oh, crap and darn. How come she could figure this out and I’m still not there (can I pretend I haven’t tried very much?), and blah, blah,, blah…..

    My choice, the angel wins.

  106. I’ve been a fan for many, many years. Thanks for bring us back to basics. Writing for yourself is a great way to start.

  107. Deborah, I enjoyed this interview and was especially happy to hear that you’re able to be an author without a huge on-line presence. My daughter and I both love THE QUIET BOOK and THE LOUD BOOK! (which my daughter usually calls the “Noisy” book). I look forward to reading BAD BYE, GOOD BYE – what a great title!

  108. Great advice on writing to please yourself, not the market. If we all wrote only for marketability the book world wouldn’t have much diversity. It’s not always easy to do when there are so many informal rules to writing and submitting pbs, but rules are always made to be broken πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing your journey and best of luck on your upcoming books!

  109. Amanda Sincavage

    Thank you for this post Julie and Deborah. I have been questioning my work lately because many of my drafts fit into those hard-to-break-into niches. This was just the inspiration I needed to push ahead.

  110. Great advice and thanks for the candid remarks. I love the quiet and loud books.

  111. Ellen Sirianni

    Great interview. I love your books.

  112. Leah Henderson

    Great information…a lot of food for thought! Thanks.

  113. It’s wonderful to hear from someone who’s clearly passionate about the stories she chooses to tell and has had success with a variety of picture book forms. I also appreciate the digital app insights. Very inspiring interview!

  114. I’d be curious to know if Deborah had an agent for her first pb or submitted directly to publishers. I’ve seen it done both ways, but often been told that pb writers generally don’t go through agents.

  115. R. Shane Parkhill

    I couldn’t quite get my brain wrapped around the concept of The Quiet Book from the description so I bought my own copy. Reading it was a reminder that the main purpose of pictures books is not to lull cranky kids to sleep, but rather to help keep their imaginations wide awake.

    The ideas in the story are subtle, challenging and thought-provoking, yet the economy of words, friendly illustrations and overall presentation should make it accessible even to very young children.

    Thank you for the interview and the inspiration. I am now keeping an eye out for your other books.

  116. Mary Jo Wagner

    I thought it must be March Madness because I chose to make my Mar draft a Christmas-related story – like THAT topic hasn’t been done before – but you inspired me with your Easter cat series. That and you are a rule breaker. So you’re doubly cool.

  117. Congrats on your successes! I can’t wait to check out your books that I haven’t read yet. I bet my kids will adore them all!

  118. Great post ladies. Liked that your not afraid to try your hand at most things, also writing for yourself not the market!

  119. Great post. I think you had every right to be worried about your second book after your first book’s success. Some writer’s only get one great book, Deborah, I’m glad you aren’t one of those people. You have so much great advice here that it’s going to take me some time to soak it all in. Thank you!

  120. I loved the freshness of The Quiet Book, Deborah. I am always amazed at such original ideas.

  121. Thanks for offering the insights into your successful creative process. I liked the image of you “fascinated by different types of quiet” and “snickering on my bed as I scribbled out the conversation between the cat and narrator”.

  122. I think the comment that resonated the most in your interview is “write for yourself and not the market.”
    I look forward to reading The Quiet Book

  123. Thanks for sharing your story…especially taken with the impetus to write for yourself and find a market later.

  124. Such a wonderful look at your creative process! Can’t wait to read your new books.

  125. Your advice seems so easy, write for yourself. But everywhere I turn I run into guidelines and rules. Slowly, I’m saying…forget the rules, for get the guidelines and just write from the heart…It’s harder than it seems but I think my stories are becoming truer because of your post. Thanks

  126. Love “The Quiet Book” and need to remember to write for myself. Been a bit difficult these days.

  127. I always just write for myself and try and figure out if there’s a market for the story once it’s finished. I love writing, so I’d rather not take the fun out of it while I’m writing, you know? πŸ™‚

  128. I’ve got a story that doesn’t fit a specific group so your words are encouraging xx

  129. Love The Quiet Book. Now I’m off to find Here Comes the Easter Cat! Steve Meltzer was singing the praises of Easter Cat at a conference I just attended. Thanks for your inspirational advice.

  130. I have read pb for years, but only recently started writing, so I would have to say that at this point , I am only writing for myself. I like that Deborah reinforces that point, especially since trying to write for a quickly paced market could be disappointing, too.

  131. I love all your common sense advice, like write for yourself, do what social media feels comfortable, and don’t let earlier successes stress you out. Thanks!

  132. Your story is inspiring! “To thine own self be true . . . ” Thanks for the encouragement.

  133. Great interview, and I will definitely check out Deborah’s app – need a few for my 5yo. Thanks!

  134. loved the interview. Especially the part about “Bad Bye, Good Bye”. Very encouraging to pull out some old things and refresh. thanks !!

  135. Love the idea of writing for yourself, as you did with The Quiet Book. Thank you for sharing your very inspiring story.

  136. Fantastic post, thank you, Deborah. The Quiet Book is one of my absolute favorites.

  137. Jessica Pilarski

    Sometimes we forget the simplest…just be yourself. Thanks for a great, inspiring post.

  138. I’m glad this interview hit on sequels. Too often I read a sequel and think the author lost the magic that was present in the first slam bang wow book, but I never thought of how little time the author has to see if the first book sells well and then churn out another for the publisher to keep the audience coming back. Thanks for the idea of pushing back on the schedule (however possible, however gently) to make a story shine instead of just hitting a deadline.

  139. Thanks for your post. It’s good to know how to buck the trends and write what we want to write!

  140. Great comments to ponder. Thanks for taking the time to share. And to encourage the writer to write their passion.

  141. Tank you for reminding me to write what I love, and what I am interested in.

  142. Good to know your feelings about an author platform. I find it so hard to do that and keep up with my due dates, too. Best of luck to you, Deborah. I am off to check out your books!!

  143. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Deborah. It is encouraging to read about someone who has had success by listening to her own heart, rather than the market. The best writing comes from within. You are an inspiration to the rest of us!

  144. Kimberly Cowger

    I love Easter Cat! I plan to write a Halloween story for the exact reason you mention, for myself!

  145. Terrific post! Thanks for taking the time to share and inspire!

  146. Karen Mae Zoccoli

    Thanks, Deborah, for sharing your experience and great advice. Its encouraging to know your authentic voice and style won out over what we tend to hear from the industry!

  147. Cathlin Parker

    I loved reading about the stories behind your books. Very encouraging indeed!

  148. I can’t believe I forgot to read this until today. Great interview. Wish I had read it earlier as it would have helped with the “title angst” I was having before subbing this month.

  149. EASTER CAT is in my AZ indie bookstore now, prominently displayed. Love the concept of EC and enjoyed reading this inspiring interview.

  150. I love The Quiet Book! The text and illustrations go so perfectly together..love the Loud book too of course!

  151. Kelda Ytterdal

    I especially liked to hear “write to please yourself, not the market.” I first started writing because there were things I wanted to write about. I understand both are important for consideration, but the joy can disappear if you try to only please the market. Thanks for sharing and I’ll take a look at your books!

  152. Gene Gryniewicz

    Cool! … and for some reason it reminded me of a scrap of paper (really … a scrap of paper) I have left over from my college days … about a hundred years ago: RULES – YA GOTTA LOVES ‘EM … HOW ELSE YA GONNA BREAK THEIR HEARTS WHEN YOU DON’T FOLLOW THEM!

  153. I love your books Deborah. Thank you for sharing some insight, tips and inspiration. This was a great interview!

  154. A very inspiring post, especially the part about writing for yourself. I think that’s true in all artistic pursuits, because I do plein air landscape painting in my spare time, and find that I have to follow my own rules there, too, to be happy about it. I think it’s important to know rules, and why they exist, before we break them, but then go ahead and break away!

  155. Great post! I laughed out loud when I read the “nothing to bring to critique group” observation re motivation to come up with ideas. Thanks!

  156. thanks for the great inspiration–i need to read your books!

  157. I liked the Q&A format of this post! Publishing both concept and holiday picture books, and now rhyming text! You are my new hero! And I’m totally with you in writing from a place of panic to have something for critique group. πŸ™‚ Good luck with the new book and thanks for the inspiration.

  158. Great interview. Love your use of language in your books. Perfect illustration match for your THE QUIET BOOK. Excellent advice about writing, too.

  159. Wonderful interview! Thank you, Deborah!

  160. klmcmorran-maus

    Thank you for sharing, Deborah. I love The Quiet Book and The Loud Book.

  161. Congratulations on your continued success! Thank you for your suggestions that we remain true to what works for us. We are all certain to fit in somewhere!

  162. Great tips Deborah, thanks for sharing.

  163. Thank you for the insight into your writing and publishing process. It was reassuring to hear you talk about writing for yourself instead of the market. So often we got told the opposite.

  164. Rene` Diane Aube

    Thank you for sharing your journey. It is encouraging to hear that what newbies are told not to write can, indeed, make it into picture books. πŸ™‚

  165. We just LOVE the quiet book and I am very interested in concept books!

  166. I found the Loud Book at my local library but as an introvert I am especially looking forward to reading the Quiet Book! I also really enjoyed “A Balloon for Isabel.”

  167. I saw you at an SCBWI conference a few years ago. You are STILL inspiring! Thanks

  168. WRITING FOR YOURSELF. LOVE IT. VERY PURPOSEFUL.

  169. Thank you for sharing this encouraging post and I love the part about writing for yourself!

  170. Truly a wonderful interview. Writing for yourself is the best advice any writer could receive.

  171. Wonderful Post! I too love “The Quite Book” and feel so encouraged by Deborah’s advice, to write for yourself. If you truly love what you write and are writing about you put more of yourself into it which usually comes across to the reader in the end. Thank you!

  172. Thanks for the insight. Another mantra to add to my list.

  173. Ever since I heard your speak at the SCBWI-LA conference I have been paying attention to quiet.

  174. Thank you and kudos to you for going against the grain with The Quiet Book. You think like I do (or, rather, I think like you do!) I appreciate your insights here!

  175. Thank you for sharing! I too have an interest in creating interactive apps and am glad that yours has been so successful!

  176. My kids love The Quiet Book and The Loud Book. We’re going to have to check out the Easter Cat book, how timely.

  177. After hearing so many authors talk about the amount of time they spend marketing, it’s refreshing to hear that you don’t spend as much time marketing as writing. And as a writer who spends quite a bit of time entertaining myself with my own stories, I also love that you write for yourself and not the market. Cheers to good times!

  178. LOVE the section about staying true to yourself. With all of the information out there about marketability, rules, and how to write the “perfect” book, it is easy to forget why we write. Thanks for that!

  179. Great advice about writing for yourself – not for the market. THAT is always an important reminder! Looking forward to reading your new books.

  180. Thank you so much for the inspiration of the Q&A and for encouraging us to write for ourselves. Congratulations on your successes.

  181. Great advice. Thanks for sharing!

  182. Thank you for the great advice! ” Write to please yourself, not the market.”

  183. Julie Segal Walters

    Great interview! Awesome books! Thanks!

  184. Thank you for sharing!

  185. Thank you so much for your insight! My favorite of yours is “A Balloon for Isabel”. My girls and I check it out of the library all the time!

  186. I know I commented already, but I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed A BALLOON FOR ISABELE.

  187. Great interview. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  188. Great interview! I can’t wait to read the “Cat” books!

  189. Wonderful interview…very inspiring. I love that Deborah Underwood wrote for herself and not the market πŸ™‚ Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

  190. Thank you, Deborah, for the constant support and honesty you are always so generous with. I’m such a fan! Xoxo

  191. Insightful interview…thanks!

  192. Deborah, congratulations on all your success! I agree about putting a physical book in a child’s hands. Thanks for the great info!

  193. Gabrielle Snyder

    Deborah, I really appreciate the advice to write to please yourself rather than worry about the market. It seems like the books with the greatest emotional resonance come from the writer’s own interests and passions. Thank you!

  194. This was so great! I love hearing about what your doing, what your process is, and that you’re totally human the whole way through it. Love that! πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing.

  195. Such great advice, and very inspiring! I think readers can tell when you are writing for yourself, or writing for the hype. That’s the difference between a book to read, and a beloved book. Thank you Deborah!

  196. Wonderful post Deborah πŸ™‚

  197. Loved the post!! It gives the rest of us hope to pursue the kind of writing we would like to do. : )

  198. Thank you for such practical advice Deborah. I love The Quiet Book and all the emotions that spring to mind as you read each page, especially the little guy that got caught writing on the wall!

  199. Meredith Pinkstone

    I love hearing about the experiences of authors. Thanks so much for giving us a snapshot of your writing life!

  200. shirley johnson

    Love your books! I appreciated the thought “write to please yourself”, also liked your advice on platform “do what your comfortable with” and “have a marketing stretch.” Great post!

  201. THE QUIET BOOK and THE LOUD BOOK bring back memories of telling my child to use his “inside voice.” I would have loved reading these to him. I’m glad to hear that you’re not completely “Twitter” savvy, as I still find social media somewhat intimidating. It’s good to know that a such an accomplished writer faces some of the same challenges I face as a newbie. Congratulations on your publishing successes!

  202. Johannah Wirkki

    I love what you said about “snickering” to yourself as you wrote. When I can clear all internal editors out of my head and just write stuff that makes me laugh, it is bliss. I suspected this was good for the creative, writing process and you have confirmed it. Thanks for inspiring us by example.

  203. What a great Q&A. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge!

  204. Thank you for the wonderful advice, Deborah! And your beautiful books!

  205. Love the fact that you were brave enough to do an Easter cat!!!

  206. I love that your editor came up with the idea to continue the series with the Loud book!!

  207. Kathy Cornell Berman

    Congratulations on the success of your books. I read The Easter Cat last week and loved it. Looking forward to reading about his next adventure. The illustrations compliment your text beautifully.

  208. Congratulations and thanks for the inspiration! I love your books!

  209. Thank you for sharing your insight. It’s great to see writer dance to her own drummer and succeed, even (and especially) when the work are different from the norm! Gives the rest of us hope! Best wishes, and thanks for sharing your story.

  210. Thanks for sharing!

  211. Wonderful interview. Thanks.

  212. Thanks for the insights and information

  213. My daughters and I have been enjoying Balloons for Isabel lately. Such a fun book! Thanks for your insight and inspiration. Jen

  214. I can’t remember if I commented earlier, but thank you so much for sharing this. It’s always good to hear write for what you want to write, and to know that miracles happen. πŸ™‚

  215. Great advice and thanks for the information!

  216. Bad Bye, Good Bye is sure to be a healing tool for families who often relocate. Great concept.

  217. Thanks for sharing- love the Write for yourself reminder. I love all your books, especially The Christmas Quiet Book – “mistletoe quiet” is precious!

  218. Thank you for sharing your tips Deborah. Never thought to include myself as the one to please when focus was always pleasing that one reader for whom I write. Following my heart is now a bigger priority.

  219. Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait to check out all your books!

  220. I had the SAME reaction as Julie when I first read “The Quiet Book.” It’s SO the kind of book I wish I had written! But, absolutely love (and admire) that Deborah wrote it, of course! And I definitely agree with Deborah’s statement about how critique groups can provide some great motivation! This was a great interview. Thanks, Deborah and Julie!

  221. Thanks for your mentoring.

  222. Thanks again for sharing.

  223. Great post with helpful insight! Thank you!

  224. thanks for sharing your writing journey tips. Hearing “write what you want instead of for the market” is ALWAYS a good reminder. also love your new book Bad Bye Good Bye, brilliant title too

  225. Christina Pierson

    I love that one of the scribbles that you put into a drawer actually became a really successful book later on. This reminds me that it is sometimes powerful to step away from a piece. Thank you!

  226. Thank you, Deborah, for your advice. I especially need to remember to write for myself and trust that the rest will follow.

  227. Thank you, Deborah, for your insight and for the time you have taken to contribute to 12 x 12. It is invaluable to have “real world” stories from which to draw inspiration and motivation. I appreciate you!

  228. Great interview! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Deborah.

  229. Thank you! Your words are inspiring!

  230. I’m going to be mulling over and repeating to myself, your advice to write what pleases you and to not allow the thoughts of what you think will sell to take over. Thanks!

  231. Being true to yourself, your ideas and visions — love it! Enjoyed reading about your writing journey.

  232. I read your post at the beginning of March and have found ideas from it popping up in my head all month. THANK YOU!

  233. Great advice to write what you love. How else will you want to finish it?

  234. Thanks for sharing! I love that you wrote THE QUIET BOOK & THE EASTER CAT for yourself!

  235. Thank you for the positive reminder to write for ourselves and not the market. I believe this is where innovation in the market naturally comes from, and feeling authentic as an author is important for creating an honest voice.

  236. Thanks so much for sharing! Great thoughts!

  237. It’s always great to have another reminder to writer for ourselves. That passion is essential. Can’t wait to get my hands on your new books!

  238. thanks for the interview!

  239. Out of the many points in your interview for which I thank you and Julie greatly, I had not really thought how even the things touched and poked in book or this case App, should also propel the story along! You helped also to move me a little further along in this learning curve of passion for what one writes and being an entrepreneur about choices!

  240. betty matthews

    What a great behind the scenes look. It was very helpful.

  241. Deborah’s point regarding the importance of writing to please oneself cannot be underestimated.
    I believe the notion of pleasing oneself is really about developing a deep inner conviction; an intuition about the rightness and readiness of one’s work.
    The dilemna when starting out is to distinguish between one’s own developing intuition or gut feeling, in the face of pressure from publishers or other external forces, versus mere intellectual preference or being overly precious about one’s own work. The inner knowing is always there deep inside and becomes clearer or more accessible with practice.
    Thanks for the great post.

  242. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  243. Deborah, your kind of courage is always inspiring to new writers like me. And it’s always so deeply good to hear a successful author say “write to please yourself, not the market.” Thanks for the lift. – Damon Dean

  244. I found your hints very interesting and encouraging. I have not ventured far down the poetry road. It is something I will do for fun sometimes but it definitely is not my strength.

  245. Amazing! I guess I never realized that my book was a niche before now. I look at it in a whole new light now. Thank you.

  246. Sheila Hausbeck

    Among my finished manuscripts, the quiet ones are the ones of which I’m most proud. They are true to my “writing” soul. Thank you for validating that.

  247. My motto has always been to write what I wish and not worry about marketability. Glad to see I’m not crazy taking that approach (hopefully). Your journey is very inspiring–thanks for sharing!

  248. Thank you for your honesty. Very insightful.

  249. Thanks for the post Deborah. I love your books!

  250. Too late for the raffle, but still wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your work!

  251. I love that you “go against the grain” and just write for yourself…I’m going to take that on board πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  252. Some great advice, thanks Deborah!

  253. Love your books, Deborah. And the great ideas. Betty

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