Dianne normally writes YA historical novels, and The Eighth Day is her debut book for children. It is the first book in a planned middle grade fantasy series.
First, Dianne, tell us what your book is about.
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Tell us briefly about your path to publication: Traditional or independent? Recently or further in the past?
In 2007, I self-published a historical novel about the true story of Maggie Fox, a teenage spirit medium from the 1850s. This was my first venture into publishing, even though I've been writing since I was a child.
The book did well enough to catch the attention of Sourcebooks, an independent traditional publisher. They offered to re-publish it -- with a fresh edit and a new title. So, in 2010 the book was re-released under the title We Hear the Dead. My experience with Sourcebooks was a good one, but I knew nothing about contracts, options, and royalties, so I started querying for an agent. Eventually I received an offer from Sara Crowe of the Harvey Klinger agency, who sold The Caged Graves for me (Clarion/HMH 2013) and The Eighth Day (HarperCollins 2014).
I like to tell people I did it all backwards. First I published a book. Then I got a book contract. Then I found an agent!
Time to pull out your Magic 8 Ball: How do you see the world of e-publishing developing for children and young adults over the next 5 years? Do you think it will ever exceed or replace print publishing?
As a recently retired elementary school teacher, I can say that more and more students are bringing e-readers into the classroom. When e-books first became popular, a lot of people predicted that a children's market would never exist for this form of publishing. When I bought my first Kindle in 2010, I wanted to purchase copies of all the children's books I taught my class, so I could have them handy in one location -- but NONE of them were available in e-book form!
That has changed drastically over the past four years. Yes, kids have e-readers, tablets, and other devices for reading electronic books. And yes, all new children's titles are available as e-books, and publishers are catching up on the backlists.
Will they ever replace print publishing? My crystal ball says not in public schools. My school had approximately 20 laptops for every 8 classrooms -- and 20 wasn't even a class set. (What good are 20 laptops when I have 28 students -- and when I have to share them with 7 other teachers?) Since the current trend in education is to give public schools less and less money, I don't see schools being able to purchase the technology to go fully digital.
Some studies say children reading e-books are reading more, while other studies say they comprehend less of what they read. What’s your opinion or experience?
My answer to this question will explain, in part, why I had to leave the teaching profession.
The current belief in education is that teachers should test a child to discover her "reading level," then restrict her to books written on that level -- and that comprehension is measured solely by more tests.
Without even addressing the validity of those tests or the way books are leveled, I will say that my experience over 25 years of teaching is this: When a student really wants to read a book, it is never going to be too hard. Students stretch themselves when they read something of interest, even if it's above their level. And if they only understand part of it and miss some things -- so what? If they were entertained, if they learned something, if it keeps them reading, if it makes them seek out more books or re-read that hard one in a year's time, then the reading experience was a success.
When I was a child, a family friend gave me Oliver Twist even though I was too young for it. I read that book three times before I finally understood it. But I read it. Three times.
I believe anything that gets a child reading is going to be beneficial, and the more they read, the better they will get. That's my philosophy of reading education, which sadly no longer matched the one espoused by my school district. I said good-bye to teaching this spring and plan to write full time -- and hopefully inspire the love of reading in more kids.
Learn more about Dianne and her books at her website and blog or by following her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
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