Children’s author discusses publishing process

Peter Batista

Emma Walton Hamilton discussed her experience as an author of children’s books over the past 12 years as well as her work with her mother, actress Julie Andrews, writing and publishing for the Julie Andrews Collection in Falvey Library on Nov. 20.

Having written and published 17 books with an 18th on the way, Hamilton enjoys the creativity that children’s writing allots her. Writing is the magic of creating one’s own course, according to Hamilton.

She also acknowledged the challenges that arise in writing a story for children.

“Girls will read books about boys, but not necessarily vice versa,” she said. “And the books need to have the main character the same age as the audience.”

Despite being the daughter of a famous actress, Hamilton had trouble breaking into the writing industry. She discussed the difficulties of getting a book into print.

“When the book is written, the work is not done,” she said. “The most important thing to do as far as getting a book published, besides the writing of the actual book, is to develop a marketing plan.”

Marketing has become extremely important in the publishing industry, with a large house such as HarperCollins publishing about 1,200 books a year, according to Hamilton.

Because of the sheer number of books that are published, the house cannot devote resources to advertising all the books. The publishing house will therefore choose a couple of books that they expect will be successful.

Getting a book to the point of publication, as outlined by Hamilton, involves writing the book and then getting an agent and signing with a publishing house. After this, the publisher edits the book and discusses it with the marketing department to see if it is viable. A sales representative then attempts to distribute the book, and finally the product makes it to the market where a potential customer can buy it.

If your book is not chosen as one of those special ones, you will still have to market it yourself, according to Hamilton.

The lecture focused on how to make a name as an author and sell a book, assuming that it has already been published and the author now wishes to promote it.

She referenced several resources to help understand the market, including “Literary Marketplace,” “Writer’s Digest” and “Guerilla Marketing for Writers.”

Finding a niche as a writer is key, the author said. She also stressed the importance of both readers and publishing companies recognizing you as a writer of specific subjects or motifs. Books from the Julie Andrews Collection tend to find their niche in nature and the arts.

Once you find your niche, you reach out to that target audience. Hamilton offered the example of her book, “The Great American Mousical.” She marketed this book in theater stores and to theater people. Cross-promotion is also helpful, she said. Corporate sponsors can increase exposure and help you to develop markets.

Noting the significant role of Web marketing in reaching an audience, every author needs to have a Web page, blog, Twitter or Facebook fan page, Hamilton said.

She showed her Web site as an example of what to include in a Web site – from a bio, media kit, and FAQ section to a recommended reading list and links to the author’s other web resources – and how to organize it.

“After developing a marketing plan, market yourself, and then finally you need to sell your book,” Hamilton said. “We all run two businesses, the business that you are in and the marketing of the business that we are in.”