Never Stop Learning March 12, 2013 19:07 5 Comments

dreams-thoreau Every now and then I receive emails from people whose dream is to have a children's book published but they don't know where to start. I know from my own experience it takes dedication, perseverance, continuing education, and tons of moral support and that doesn't stop even after your first book is published. With no formal art education other than a college figure drawing class, I started Wanart in 2003 and I spent the next several years absorbing everything I could, trying many things, making many mistakes, spending lots of money, and drawing—lots of drawing, relying on nothing but hope and passion to keep me going most of the time. Between the trial and error (and tears!) were some small successes and then I met my first publisher in 2008. I've had 3 books published now with 6 more on the way in the next couple of years. My designs are also found on stationery and gift products sold all over the world. It is a dream come true. If there is some goal in life that you are working toward, a dream you are striving to turn into reality – don’t ever give up. Even if you can't afford to give up all of your commitments, there are other options. Maybe keeping your day job is in your best interest at the moment as you pursue the ins and outs of your dream after hours (which is what I had to do the first couple of years of my business). But also have the courage to put yourself out there, surround yourself with people who believe in you, be honest with yourself, focus on your core strengths, figure out how to maximize what you do best, create from your heart and soul (not what the next guy is doing), and never stop learning. Ever since I took that first continuing education course at SVA in 2003, I've experienced the power of continuing education and how it can enrich your life (it's why I also now teach courses at SVA). A great place to start learning about publishing is to join the Society Of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. They have many regional conferences and two national ones in New York City and Los Angeles every year. You may have even seen me post about these awesome conferences on my blog. You will not find a more supportive group of people in your life. Having attended many over the years, the New Jersey SCBWI Annual Conference is one of the best. This conference has a great variety of workshops, top-notch faculty, and is a real value for the cost. For the first time, I will actually be leading a workshop on branding so I hope you can join me! The workshop is called "What's Your Brand?" and will explore the meaning and benefits of branding for writers and illustrators, ways to identify and communicate your brand, and how it can provide inspiration and focus in your creative work and marketing activities. Invest in yourself and register today! NJSCBWI_PB_Banner Also, it's over my birthday weekend so I hope you can celebrate with me too! :) xo Joyce