Crystal writes: I am doing a research project for english. I was just wondering what your favorite food was.
Lauren K. writes: I’m an eight grader at Clifton T. Barkalow Middle School in Freehold New Jersey. I am doing a book report on a book you wrote. The book is Speak. About the repot, their is a part of the report is about the author. I was wondering if you could help me. If you do, it would really help. Here are some of the questions that you might be able to help me with:
How many books have you written? 23, think.
What do you enjoy to do? Writing, reading, hanging out with my family and friends.
What inspired you to start writing? A rather lively imagination.
What is your favorite book out of all the books you have written? I’m proud of all of them.
If you could give one piece of advice to young writers, what would it be? Be nice to your parents. If you are going to try and make a career out of writing fiction, you will wind up living in their basement for a long time.
Where do you like to write? In my attic.
Where do you get your ideas for a story from? Everywhere!!
Tom writes: Hello, Ms. Anderson. Have you ever/Would you ever post the query letter that eventually led to the publication of Speak? It would not only be entertaining, but could also serve as a model for those reading your LJ who are in the query-writing process.
That is a great question, but I’m afraid I don’t have it anymore. (I submitted SPEAK in 1997.) My query letters tended to be very brief: A paragraph with (I hoped) an interesting one- or two sentence summary of the book, a paragraph that briefly detailed my writing qualifications, and a paragraph that said thank you for considering my work. Let me point out for the record that SPEAK was plucked from the slush pile. I sold my first 4 picture books, my series, 2 novels, and a couple of work-for-hire jobs without an agent.
Kashia writes: I believe that you met my teacher at a conference recently. She was so happy to meet you and I wanted to hear everything about it. To my surprise she was really nervous to meet you. I never would have thought of my teacher as a nervous person before. She really looks up to you maybe even more than myself.
But any way I was wondering what procedures you took to get your book published? was it hard? Did you have to go through a lot of editors and stuff or can you simply walk into a publishing office and say “I want to get a book published.” And did you start out with picture books or was Speak your first book? And the last thing I was wondering is how old were you when you realized you wanted to be a writer? I am very interested in what you had to do to become a writer!!
I did it the old-fashioned way. I borrowed books from the library that taught me about the publication process (librarians rock), I borrowed more books from the library that had lists of publishers’ names and addresses, I wrote manuscripts and sent them to publishers. The first four years I was writing books for kids, I got rejected – over and over and over again. But I kept trying to improve my skills and it paid off. I started out with picture books because my kids were little back them. (I was about 30 years old when I decided to try and write for kids.) If you want to be a writer, you need a good day job to pay the bills, a passion for storytelling, a willingness to learn about craft, a wicked stubborn streak, and patience.