This week I checked in with The Elevensies, an invaluable community website run by and for children’s book authors whose debuts were published in 2011.

What I read both alarmed and inspired me.

First, the alarming: basically, lots of amazing authors (some of whose books I’ve read and some I haven’t, but trust me, they’re all amazing) — who have had their dreams come true by getting published in the first place — are now seeing those dreams bump up against a cruel reality. It turns out that some authors are still searching for a contract for their second book; others are worried about the sales (and implications thereof) of their first book; and still others are already considering other ways of getting their work out, such as e-publishing. It seems almost absurd that some of the best writers in the world – and that’s what they are, because that’s what you have to be to be published in the first place – are finding it so difficult and stressful to continue pursuing their craft. Is this really what it’s come to? Is the publishing industry so broken that those at the very top of the field haven’t earned the right to be seen, and heard, and read? I’m not naïve – I get that people aren’t reading as much these days, and the business is in turmoil, all the doomsday stuff we’ve all heard a thousand times – but still, it’s distressing when it hits home, and you see your colleagues working their asses off just to stay in the game

But that’s what brings me to the inspiring part. Because here’s the thing: every one of these writers are still writing. EVERY ONE. Yes, of course, writers write to be published, and to be read and appreciated; but we also write because it’s in our blood and bones. It’s what we do. We write. We write through the stress, and the worry, and the bookscan obsession (we all have it), and the knowledge that what we’re writing might be read by thousands, or might just be read by our families. Becaue when it comes right down to it, all that stuff doesn’t matter. There are stories that we want to tell, we HAVE to tell — and come hell, high water or low sales, we’re going to tell them. It’s that passion and talent that got the brilliant members of The Elevensies published in the first place, and that’s how we’re going to continue to get published — or e-published, or self-published, or some form of published that hasn’t been invented yet — until we don’t have any more stories to tell.

It’s as simple as that.


  1. March 13th, 2012

    Sara Bennett Wealer

    Tommy, you rock. One way or another, we *will* get read! 🙂

  2. March 13th, 2012

    Helen Landalf

    Thanks so much for writing this, Tommy. So, so true!

  3. March 14th, 2012

    Angela Cerrito

    One author has published a guide book for children about NOT reading.

    *glances to sidebar at the left!*

    When will it end???!

  4. March 18th, 2012

    Anna Staniszewski

    I finally had a minute to read through all the check-in comments. Wow, it really is amazing to see everyone persevering, isn’t it? No matter what, we keep writing.

  5. March 20th, 2012

    Kathy McCullough

    I missed the Elevensies check-in, because I was touring around Washington with some Elevensies, and we were all sharing many of the concerns you mention above. Carole Dagg had seen your post and told us about it — and it’s true — for all the complaining and worrying, despite all the setbacks and doubt — in all of our discussions, it was always assumed that we would keep writing. 🙂

  6. March 24th, 2012

    Amy Fellner Dominy

    Hey Tommy,
    Just catching up on Elevensies news — so far behind–and saw your blog post. Thanks for saying what I was thinking in such a wonderful way.
    I’ll be at TLA for a couple days mid-week. It would be great to see you!! I have no official duties there so look for the wandering, aimless, author. 🙂

  7. March 25th, 2012


    would love to see you! my cell 201-966-8567 – i’ll be there wed-fri

  8. March 27th, 2012

    Kiki Hamilton

    Hey Tommy!
    Great post. Through the ups and downs of this business, it’s always nice to know we’ve got other authors on the same crazy ride with us, in one way or another. I look forward to seeing what adventures wait for us over the next 5 or 10 years.

    I’ll be at TLA too – hanging with Amy D. 🙂 I’d love to buy you a coffee this time and catch up on your news. I suspect it’s GOOD!! 🙂

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