Children’s Publishing: Creative Kids’ Tales

georgiedonaghy_ckt-editGeorgie Donaghey is the founder, editor and author of Creative Kids Tales; a one-stop shop for emerging children’s authors and illustrators. It provides an opportunity to create or expand children’s authors and illustrators online presence and start building a community of supporters. Georgie is also a published author of children’s books.

Her first steps into the world of children’s publishing were taken with the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA), where she served as President for the Sutherland Shire sub-branch for three years. It was during her time with the CBCA that she discovered that there were many emerging children’s authors who needed a voice; somewhere they could display their work, network with others and utilise tools and resources to assist them on their journey to publication. In 2011, Creative Kids Tales (CKT) was born.

In 2013, an extension of CKT was launched via The Author’s Shelf on 2SSR; a fortnightly program centred around Australian (and occasionally international) author interviews. Georgie ran this for one year before shelving it (excuse the pun) in favour of focussing on her writing.

In 2015, Georgie’s first children’s book, Lulu, was published with Dragon Tales Publishing. In 2016 she signed a second contract with Little Pink Dog Books for Clover’s BIG Ideas which will be released later this year. In 2016 Dragon Tales Publishing closed. Wombat Books loved Lulu so much that they wanted to re-release it under their brand. A few months later and Lulu is now happy in her new home with Wombat Books. You can check out the trailer (created by Georgie’s talented daughter, Charlotte) here

We convinced Georgie to sit down and have a chat with us, and share a little more of her expertise with our audience.

Georgie, can you tell us a bit more about yourself?

I won my first writing award when I was eight, after submitting a poem to a Sunday Telegraph competition; it was a poem about going to the dentist!

As my life progressed my writing changed, and I found myself interested in writing murder mysteries. But it was after the birth of my son, 18 years ago, that I really found my writing home: writing fiction for children.

With an overpowering desire to create new adventures, I filled notebook after notebook. I immersed myself in the children’s writing industry; joining writing groups, attending festivals and enrolling in courses. It was at the NSW Writers’ Centre children’s & YA festival that I met Di Bates. This is where my journey took a clear direction. With the support of Di, I relaunched the Sutherland Shire CBCA. This opened many doors and allowed me to make beneficial contacts.

How would you describe yourself in the context
of the children’s book industry?

I live by the rule if the door is closed, find a window. If you believe in yourself and your writing, and have done the hard work, then it will happen, it’s just a matter of time.

I offer assistance and guidance to those writers and illustrators no matter where they are on their creative journey but who are serious about reaching publication. I love this industry and the many special people within it.

What prompted you to establish Creative Kids Tales?

I chaired the Sutherland Shire Sub-branch of the CBCA for almost three years. While rewarding, I found the role restrictive. I wanted to offer support through a variety of services to emerging children’s authors. I wanted to offer a voice and help them build their author platform. I wanted to offer tips, competition information, a publisher listing and a host of other services. There wasn’t a site in Australia that could do that. I needed to create one.

In 2011 I launched CKT. Now an industry recognised site, CKT supports not only Australian emerging children’s authors and illustrators, but also published authors by providing a unique website packed with everything a writer needs on their creative journey.

CKT is a partner with Love2Read and is archived under the National Library’s Pandora Archives. We also support the KOALA Awards.

 What does the site aim to do?
Does it take up much of your time?

YES!! CKT consumes most of my waking hours and often sneaks into my sleep time too. I’m always thinking of ways to help people in this industry. People think it is my only job. When in fact, I work full-time and raise three kids. Unfortunately, my full-time job is outside the children’s writing industry but it helps to pay the bills!

CKT is a unique website for Australian emerging children’s authors and illustrators.  It offers somewhere emerging authors/illustrators can display their work, network with colleagues, have access to features, tools and resources to assist them on their journey to publication.

We provide the latest festival, workshop and competition information for writers of the children’s genre.  We have pages with tips on ‘Securing that Grant’, ‘Don’t lose the plot’, ‘Mentor or Superhero?’, ‘Social Media’ and more.  We review the latest children’s book releases and offer a spot on our Tours at the Tales page for those wanting to pitch their latest released book. Have you ever wondered what your favourite children’s author’s top tip is? Well now you can find out on our ‘Top Tip’s page.

We have an added bonus for members – our interactive forum is exclusively for members. Here you can network in a safe environment with other CKT members. We also have a member’s only critique group where you can workshop your stories and ideas among your peers.

In 2017 we’ll publish our first book – a collection of stories and illustrations from our members.

Who does the site most attract?

We average around 300,000+ hits per month from local and overseas visitors. It varies each month as to what’s the most popular. Our publisher listing is always high in the rankings, along with our What’s New page, competitions pages, author and illustrator profiles. Our Featured and Emerging Author/Illustrator of the month is a popular choice each month too.

The types of viewers we attract to our site are publishers, those looking to be published, readers looking for the latest released children’s books and currently published authors looking for inspiration.

Our CKT Kids’ Book Club is popular with children who like to read the latest reviews and see what’s the chatter around the playground.

Who are some of the authors and illustrators
whom you’ve interviewed?

Through both CKT and The Author’s Shelf I have been fortunate to interview many wonderful authors. I enjoyed chatting with Captain Underpants author; Dav Pilkey, Diary of a Wimpy Kid author; Jeff Kinney, Jackie French, McLeod’s Daughters creator; Posie Graeme-Evans, Andy Griffiths, Shaun Tan, Leigh Hobbs, Aaron Blabey, Nick Bland, Graeme Base, Susanne Gervay, Deborah Abela, Isobelle Carmody, Jacqueline Harvey, Kate Forsyth, Belinda Murrell and many others. All interviews appear on either Creative Kids Tales or our YouTube Channel and we haven’t finished yet! There are plenty more people we want to chat with J You should see who we have lined up for this year.

What do you feel proudest of with regards your site?

The people we’ve assisted, many of whom are now published children’s authors.

This industry is hard and I’ve struck the odd nasty who has expected everything be done for them. It doesn’t work like that. Sometimes, not often, I question why I continue to provide a service such as CKT. When I’m having one of those rare moments, I go to our testimonials page and read through comments and endorsements from some of this country’s well-known children’s authors. My mood is quickly shifted and I’m back on track.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I realised long ago, being accepted by a publisher straight away wasn’t going to happen. I had to earn my stripes. What I did know was, I would be published. With every rejection I received, I used it not to discourage but to fuel my passion and determination. How could I build my name in the industry and also help others just starting out? I had to go through the publishing back door rather than through the front.

Writing is a journey. The most wonderful, heart-wrenching, exhilarating, goose bumps expedition you can venture on.

My advice is to build your name within the industry. Work hard at your writing. Wear rejections like a badge of honour. Be proud, celebrate each and every achievement and win. But most of all believe; always believe, because that acceptance letter is on its way.

Good luck with your journey and see you on the shelves.

Visit www.creativekidstales.com.au to find out more about Creative Kids Tales.

 

About Kit Carstairs

Kit Carstairs has background in book and magazine publishing, academic research, marketing and broadcasting. She has almost a decade of experience working with a wide variety of content including: fiction (adult and children’s), general non-fiction (craft, gardening, home improvement, general DIY, food titles, natural history, general reference, photography) as well as working with corporate (marketing and sales material, business reviews and papers) and academic content (research publications and thesis). Having worked both as a freelance editor and as an in-house editor and project manager in publishing, Kit has a comprehensive understanding of the importance of content development and the need for authors to be proactive in developing manuscripts that represent their full potential. As well as providing manuscript assessments Kit is also able to offer her editing and proofing services (POA) as well as fast and accurate transcribing services (POA). Contact Kit to discuss these services in more detail. Kit lives and works in the inspirational surroundings of the Blue Mountains, in Australia's New South Wales.

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