Welcome to the Winner’s Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. Today we are celebrating published author Melissa Abramovitz!
What is the name of your book (or books)? Who is the publisher?
I have published more than 50 nonfiction educational books for children and teens with Lucent Books, Capstone Press, ReferencePoint Press, Lerner Publications, and ABDO Publishing. I have also published two children’s picture books with Guardian Angel Publishing and a book for writers with E&E Publishing.
Tell us a bit about your path to publishing, from idea to submission to published book.
Most of the books and magazine articles I publish are assigned by publishers with whom I work regularly. Some are with publishers who are new to me, and sometimes I do submit stories or books on speculation. I am currently sending out several nonfiction and fiction picture books to publishers on spec in hopes of getting them published. As far as how I get ideas, I have long lists of article and book ideas that I struggle to find enough time to turn into finished manuscripts!
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing professionally for 30 years. Before that, I enjoyed writing stories and poems for fun, and even had several poems published while I was in high school.
What’s your favorite genre to write and why?
I most enjoy writing nonfiction books and magazine articles. I love learning about the many topics I research and write about, and somehow nonfiction comes much easier to me than fiction does. That said, I also love writing rhyming children’s picture books.
What ICL courses have your taken?
I took the Writing for Children Course.
How has taking our course helped your writing and/or career?
The ICL course gave me the knowledge I needed about how to write for children’s markets, along with how to market and sell what I wrote. At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom and wanted to start a part-time career that allowed me to work around my family’s schedule, and starting a freelance writing/author business turned out to be perfect for me. I actually sold the first magazine article I submitted to a publisher – it was a nonfiction article I wrote for one of my ICL course assignments, and I sold it to Medical Detective magazine. At that time Medical Detective was a magazine for tweens in the Humpty Dumpty’s/Jack and Jill family of publications. Of course, after that I received, and still receive many rejections, but I still love what I do! And the ICL course started what has grown into a full-time career for me.
Have any of your class assignments been published?
Yes, the one I just mentioned that I sold to Medical Detective magazine, titled “The Chinese Way of Healing.” It’s about acupuncture, which is now pretty mainstream in America, but at that time was very new in this country.
Do you have a favorite writing tip you’d like to share?
I think one of the most important things to remember is that if you want to write professionally, act professional. This includes submitting work with no typos or grammatical errors, that is professionally presented, and approaching any and all editors, prospective interviewees, and others with whom you interact, in a professional manner. This is not an actual writing tip, but is an overall guiding strategy for people who want careers as authors/writers.
If you could travel back in time and give yourself one piece of writing advice, how far back would you go, and what would you tell yourself?
I would tell myself to start networking and interacting with other authors much sooner than I did. As a busy mom and homemaker, I rarely interacted with other writers when I was writing part-time. I did teach some writer’s conference workshops, but did not belong to groups like SCBWI until around 2012. Since then I have really enjoyed and gained much-needed support from being involved with SCBWI, ICL, the Working Writer’s Club, and other groups. These groups have also allowed me to mentor and advise other writers who are just starting out, and I regularly write columns and teach tele-classes. I find I really enjoy these connections and chances to give back as well as opportunities to learn from others.
Tell us about your favorite place to write and what time of day you are most productive in your writing.
I usually write in my home office, at all hours of the day (and sometimes night, when I’m swamped with writing assignments), since writing is my full-time career.
Please tell us the best or most valuable thing you learned from your experience with ICL.
The most valuable thing I learned from my ICL course was what is involved in writing for children. Before I took the class, I had no idea about how to come up with productive ideas, or about how to tailor manuscripts for specific publications, or how to sell stories etc to publishers.
What do you like most about writing for children?
I like many things about writing for children and teenagers, but I think the best part is knowing that I am making a little bit of a positive difference in kids’ lives. I love it when kids write to me to say how much they love my books, or how much they learn from my books, or how much my books make them laugh, or how one of my books motivated a child to follow a particular career path or to do good things in the world.
Melissa Abramovitz is an award-winning freelance writer/author who specializes in writing educational nonfiction books and magazine articles for all age groups, from preschoolers through adults. She also writes short stories, poems, and picture books, and is the author of the book for writers, A Treasure Trove of Opportunity: How to Write and Sell Articles for Children’s Magazines. Melissa graduated summa cum laude from the University of California, San Diego with a degree in psychology and is also a graduate of The Institute of Children’s Literature. She is a member of SCBWI and The Working Writer’s Club.