How do you promote your work? Part 2 of an interview with rhyming poet, Jackie Hosking

Today, I talk to poet Jackie Hosking about the ways she promotes herself and her work.

Poet, Jackie Hosking

Rhyming poet & Pass It On editor, Jackie Hosking

Jackie, do you have an agent?

No I don’t have an agent but then again I haven’t really looked for one. I actually enjoy the submission process, though I imagine that an agent would be extremely useful if you found yourself strapped for time. As I tend to write short and sweet, my time is not as scarce as it might be for others.

Have you spoken on radio?

Yes I have – I did an interview with Elaine Harris (ABC Tasmania) a few years ago and a local Melbourne radio station.

Have you performed your poetry in public?

I’ve done a few public readings of my poetry and as far as I’m aware, they went pretty well. I get very nervous at the prospect of reading my work aloud in public but once I get started you can’t stop me.

Have you spoken to school groups?

I have spoken at small local primary schools, usually because I’ve been invited – I don’t tend to seek out this type of work but am happy to do it if asked. My talks so far have been about the art of rhyme and rhythm where we use a rhyming dictionary. I’ve also taught children how to write limericks.

My poetry has been described as old fashioned but not outdated – I like that description.

Do you market yourself to teachers, librarians or any other groups?

This is my next big challenge. I’ve not taken this road yet I think because my internal editor is being too strict. I’ve started to look at designing some workshops but the perfectionist in me is being very restrictive. I need to put it in a box and leave it outside for a while.

Tell me about your online strategy. How did you decide what components to use?

I used to have a website though GeoCities but they closed down this year so now I use a WordPress blog. For me it’s all about networking, getting your name out there and connecting with like minded people. I think of the ones you’ve mentioned above, I use Facebook the most. I only really tweet once a week to let people know that I’m editing the next issue of PIO. Facebook is a bit more casual and very friendly. It is full of useful information and allows you to befriend people in the industry that you may not be able to otherwise. Like all online sites though you have to be careful what you choose to share – once you’ve hit the send button it’s out there for a long time.

These things can also be big time thieves if you’re not disciplined – I like to have them buzzing in the background as I work because being a writer can be a very lonely profession and they remind you that you’re not the only one staring at a computer screen.

I use the internet to promote the newsletter, to ask for news, to find things of interest, to search for artists to profile, to research – the list goes on and on.

Do you target different audiences with each of the online channels?

No not really. The children’s writing/illustrating industry is mostly where I spend my time and my blogs reflect this. The wordpress blog gives information about PASS IT ON, my writing and my rhyming manuscript editing service. The versatility blog gives examples of my poetry and the CBI blog showcases children’s illustrators. Facebook covers everyone, while Linkedin acts as more of an online CV.

What method have you found to be most effective in promoting yourself as a writer?

Well I guess having a list of publications is helpful – I have a page on my blog that shows where I have been published and the type of writing that I write for both children and adults. When I get an acceptance I like to share it with my colleagues – it’s always nice to have your work validated. And like I said earlier, if I’m asked to give a talk or something similar, I usually do.

I get very nervous at the prospect of reading my work aloud in public but once I get started you can’t stop me.

Are you a full-time writer? How do you structure the days that you write?

I think most writers are full time, in that they are constantly thinking of things to write about. My days however are pretty unstructured except when I’m editing the newsletter. Entering competitions is a good way to keep me writing or editing things I have already written. I definitely have a one track mind – if I have to do the accounts for hubby’s business then I can’t work on my writing. I’m very black and white – all or nothing.

How would you describe your ‘brand’ as a writer?

I am a rhyming poet. My poetry has been described as old fashioned but not outdated – I like that description.

If you could travel back in time to the moment before you sent off your first manuscript, what advice would you give yourself?

Knowledge is power. This advice will save you lots of time and money. Be sure that you send your work to the right people. Be informed.

Thank you, Jackie!

Bio

Jackie has been writing for children for about 5 years. She likes to write in rhyme and runs a manuscript editing service where she helps others to  write in rhyme. She is also the editor/publisher of PASS IT ON, a networking newsletter for anyone interested or involved with the children’s writing/illustrating industry. PASS IT ON has been in circulation for over 6 years.

Links

For information about Pass It On and Jackie’s Rhyming Manuscript Editing Service, click here.

VersaTility – Rhyme & Rhythm: Jackie’s blog about poetry for children (including samples of Jackie’s work).

Children’s Book Illustrators – A Showcase. This blog showcases the work of children’s illustrators who have appeared in Pass It On.

This weekend, I’ll be posting a list of resources for beginning writers. The list was compiled by Jackie with the assistance of Pass It On subscribers.

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How did you get published? Interview with rhyming poet Jackie Hosking

Today, I’m talking to writer Jackie Hosking. Jackie writes children’s poetry and short stories and has been published by education publishers. She is also the editor behind Pass It On, a weekly e-newsletter for people interested in children’s publishing.

Publications that Jackie Hosking has written for

The magazines and books where Jackie has had her work published

Jackie, can you tell me how you first came to be published?

The very first offer that I received was quite accidental. A friend had suggested that I visit a UK website (The Bad Mothers’ Club) as at the time I had written a few humorous pieces about being a mother. After visiting the site and laughing my head off, I contacted the editor of the site to thank her for making me laugh – I also sent her a piece I had written because I thought it might make her laugh. She emailed back offering to publish the story on the site which was a complete surprise. A monetary figure was mentioned and me in my naivety thought that I had to pay her! Turns out I didn’t and she went on to publish half a dozen poems and stories on the site. My first children’s piece was published by The School Magazine, is was a poem called ‘If I Were a Giant’ – I’d learnt about The School Magazine via an online chat group that I belonged to.

Tell me about your writing ‘process’.

I tend to work in spurts. The longest story that I have actually finished totalled around 10,000 words (a chapter book for 9-12yr olds). I prefer to write shorter pieces with a twist in the tail and they tend to come out in a rush. I think that’s why I enjoy poetry so much. It’s very economical and yet can be extremely powerful. My internal editor is very strong – I like to have the finished product in my head before I begin writing and this, I think, is why I tend to keep things on the shorter side – it’s just the way my brain works, so yes, I do tend to work on only  one piece at a time.

You’ve written short stories and poetry for children. How do you find switching between these different forms of writing?

My most favourite genre is rhyming poetry or stories in verse. Again I think it’s just the way my brain works. I’ve written a few short stories for children, a handful have been published but my specialty is most definitely things that rhyme. Humour is probably the thing that binds the two genres, or the unexpected – I really enjoy writing with a twist in the tale (tail).

The other genre that I enjoy writing in, and this fits in quite well with the above, is flash fiction, short stories with word counts less than 500. They tend to behave like long jokes, have a kick in the tail and usually make you laugh or gasp in surprise. My flash fiction pieces tend to be written for adults rather than children.

If a piece is accepted for publication, do you often have to rewrite or rework material?

No. I think my internal editor is so strict that once the work hits the page it pretty much stays the way it falls. There have, however been a few occasions where this didn’t happen. I once wrote a story for an education publisher, a straight prose story. This was accepted but later changed into a diary form just to mix up the type of writing used. I didn’t have to rewrite the story, the editor did it.

Another time I wrote a poem where the publisher loved the subject but required it for an older audience. I rewrote the poem half a dozen times until it was accepted – it was a long process but an enjoyable one.

Are you mainly writing for education publishing? Do you have plans to write for trade too?

I would love to have a rhyming pb (picture book) or a collection of poetry accepted by a trade publisher. I’ve had some very nice rejections so I feel that I am close. I will certainly let you know when it happens but as I said before I don’t tend to write for anyone in particular, I write what I write and if someone likes it enough to publish it then that’s an added bonus.

What (if anything) has been restrictive about writing for the education market?

 When you write for the education market you need to be mindful of certain subjects, especially when writing for the US market. To be honest though, I don’t tend to write this way. I write what I want to write about and when I’m convinced that it is my best work, I send it out. Ordinarily I’m not a niche writer. I write when the mood takes me. So when I think about it, I’ve actually found writing for the education market liberating rather than restrictive because it encourages me to write about topics that I might not otherwise have thought about.

Do you try to build relationships with the editors that you work with?

In my experience editors tend to come and go. I certainly enjoy working with editors who like my work and would probably try to follow them as they move from publishing house to publishing house. I guess it’s the same with any job, people like to work with people that they know.

How does being a member of writers’ groups and networks assist you as a writer?

Tremendously. My first children’s publication came for reaping the knowledge of other writers. It’s always great to put faces to names and a lot easier to email an editor or a publisher with queries if you have met them before.

How does Pass It On fit in with your writerly life?

PASS IT ON fits in very well. I spend lots of hours at my computer which is how PIO is put together, I do a little bit towards it every day. I enjoy meeting subscribers, especially when they are new to the industry because I know how helpful the newsletter is. As a writer PIO connects me with anyone and everyone in the children’s writing & illustrating industry. It takes up a fair bit of time, but it’s certainly time well spent with people who are not only incredibly helpful but also incredibly knowledgeable. 

How do you research potential places to submit your work?

Usually if I hear of a new publisher I will google them and check out their website, then I’ll email people I know and ask what they know about them. I might send them a query, letting them know what I like to write and I certainly have few favourites where I send a steady stream of things. It’s always exciting when a new potential market opens up, especially if you are a rhyming poet like me.

Did you have a deliberate plan to develop your career as a writer?

Not so much a plan as a philosophy that you make your own luck. I try never to turn down opportunities, if I am asked to give a talk or presentation (or interview), I always say yes. I also try to support my peers in their endeavours, I really enjoy helping others promote their work which again works well with the PIO newsletter.

Tomorrow, Jackie explains how she promotes herself and her work.