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Interview with Pat McCarthy

You write childrens books. Do you think your past as a school teacher helps?  
Yes, I definitely think my years of teaching helped me to become a children's writer. I taught several grades, so am familiar with what kids can read at different ages and also what their interests are.

You've had 14 books published by 4 different publishing houses. How do you select which publishers to query?  
Actually, Baseline Development and Trillium are more like book packagers than publishers. They find people to write books to go with curriculum series. I usually select publishers by using Childern's Writers and Illustrators Market and ICL market guide, Book Markets for Children. I look to see who is publishing books that are similar to the ones I want to sell.

Do you have any tips for other writers wanting to write for children?
Read LOADS of children's books in the age range and genre you want to write for. Spend time with children in that age range. Hone your writing till it's polished. There is so much help available online now. When I started, I learned most of what I know from reading books. Kept the Writer's Digest Book Club in business for years! Also keep sending things out and never give up. Persistence is very important.

You often speak at schools and other organisations. Do you find this helps sell more books?
I usually sell a few books at school visits, and also my fee certainly helps out.

Tell us a bit about the programs you offer?
I offer a program on how an idea becomes a book, which traces all the steps from idea to publication. I also do a program on Pioneer Life, with a  Powerpoint program of photos from the book. And I have a program, also with Powerpoint, on Colonial leaders I've written about.

I recently read on your blog that you won the Best of the Best Book Award from Chicago Public Library. This event ended up with a newspaper feature. How important do you think it is for a writers career that they win awards?  
My book wasn't the sole winner of this award. It's a list they make up each year of what they consider were the best children's books the year before. That's the first award I've won. It got me some recognition, but I don't know that it will do anything for my career. I think the books should sell better in the Chicago area because of being on the list.

Where can people find out more about you and your work?
I have a minimal website, which is mainly for people looking for an author to give school programs. It's at www.authorpatmccarthy.com  That sounds a little pretentious, but patmccarthy.com was already taken! Also a blog, which I update sporadically. It's at http://patmccarthysauthorblog.blogspot.com 

Anything else you'd like to add?
I'm always looking for more school visits and also publishers who publish biographies.

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