This week let me introduce Kate Woodard!
Kate has the very best advice for writers! She says ‘allow yourself to write crap’ so that you get something down. Get in the habit of writing every day and eventually it won’t be crap anymore!
It’s a simple but powerful way to develop your writing muscles. #writingadvice
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Laurie: Hello everybody, welcome back to the Writer’s Way podcast. I’m here today with author, Kate Woodard. Thank you for joining me today, Kate.
Kate: Thank you so much. I’m, I’m really happy to be here.
Laurie: And where in the world are you?
Kate: I am in Brazil.
Laurie: Just sounds so fantastic.
Kate: Well, it can be for sure. It’s right now it’s the rainy season, so every day it’s been thunderstorming, which has been great. I love it.
Laurie: Oh, fun.
Laurie: And here it’s snowing.
Kate: Extreme difference.
Laurie: Extreme difference. So, can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got started? I know you have four books published, but you know, share the story.
Kate: So, um, I actually, my background is in playwriting and when I was young, I love to write stories and do theater with my siblings and friends.
And I was a big reading buff. And when I got to be a teen, I, um. Got into theater and had a theater group for a number of years. And so, um, I went to college for playwriting and majored in playwriting. Um, and after college I decided to up and go to London where I joined a theater group and had one of my plays staged which was really an amazing. It’s kind of a children’s play, a little mystery. Um, and I also joined a couple groups there. Um, one was a writing group. And another was, um, women in publishing. And, um, so when I was in the women in publishing group, um, I learned a lot about the publishing industry at the time.
And self-publishing was becoming like a big thing. And. I thought, you know, I love the idea of having my own creative control over my books, be able to choose my illustrator, design the book myself. So it became more and more appealing to me to self-publish. So I decided to try it out. And, um, it took a while and I had no idea what I was doing at all, and I made a lot of mistakes and some of them are costly, but, um, I learned a lot about storyboarding and finding an illustrator, finding an editor.
Um. And layout and marketing. And, um, so I managed to publish, um, four books and now I’m here in a completely different country from there, completely different in every way. And um sharing my books here with children here, and it’s been really amazing. So
Laurie: What a great story. Um, I’m just going to, so when was, when did you start that process? Like you have four books published now and you, you, you know, you’ve gone through it all. So when was the beginning, like how long has it been.
Kate: It was a while ago. It took me a long time to produce the books, and I also, because I decided to do them altogether, so it probably took me about a year to just even complete the illustration process with my illustrator when I finally got one.
So I’m trying to think. It must’ve been like. The entire idea started probably in 2011 or 12 and then I made a mistake with an illustrator that started and ended because I was really incompetent with storyboarding, which I’ve learned how to do pretty well. And, um, uh, so then it took me a little while to find a really good illustrator and it took about a year for that.
And, um, I, I actually published officially in 2017 my first book and then, um, had it translated into Portuguese and then the last, um, four, three, the last three I had done in 2018. So it took a while for me to just learn what I needed to do in the next steps and figuring it out. And I find that I’m a slow learner in some areas, and it’s taken me a long time to kind of accept this and be like, it’s okay. You know, I need to learn what I need to learn in my own time.
Laurie: So more noise. Um, so, so you, it sounds like you really learned though before you. Put it out like I feel like some people. Hmm. Perhaps myself included, um, rushed through and put things out and then on the opposite side of it, think, what am I doing now?
Kate: Well, I did a lot of that too. I mean, I, I put out three books at the same time, which I don’t know is the best idea in terms of like leading up to a launch. And if I could do it again, I would have probably like led people along put out, you know. Drop little advertisements about it coming to get people excited.
And I didn’t really do that. I just kind of like quickly did it. So I definitely did some fast moving as well.
Laurie: And how did you end up finding the illustrator? And was it a storyboard issue with the first one?
Kate: Yeah, the first one. Oh my God, I was so green. I, I, I literally gave him my book and was like, okay.
I kind of want this vibe. Can you do it? I didn’t give him any storyboard. And then obviously he came back with like, you know, his ideas and he was a really good illustrator, but I was like, this isn’t right. I need you to do this. And then I would give it back to him and he’d make changes and get back to me.
And I changed my mind. And then after a while he was like, ah, no, I quit. I was so abandoned by it. I was like, Oh my God, how could he do this to me? And then I realized. That there just wasn’t any guidance. So I put together, you know, an official story board, every page what I wanted. Um, and I just looked and looked and looked online for an illustrator that I loved.
And it took me a while to find one. I, uh, back then it was Elance that I think is Upwork now. I put an add on on there and I found my illustrator who lives in Spain and she’s amazing. Oh, so we have a really nice relationship, and she’s done all of my books for me after that, so
Laurie: I’m glad that you found somebody that went well and learned, I guess,
Kate: I learn the hard way.
Laurie: Well, but it might’ve worked out. You know, like you never know if he had had your same vision, it could have worked out perfectly.
Kate: That’s what it is too, is exactly that. You want to find someone that has your vision and also your work style too. It’s not just about your vision and it’s kind of your pacing and my illustrator adds so much to my ideas as well. I’ll give her, you know, an image of what I want, and then she puts little details in that just makes it so much more amazing.
Laurie: Oh so the synergy is just wonderful with her. I’m glad it worked out then I worked out for the better then,
Kate: Yeah, me too. It was actually better in the end.
Laurie: Okay, and you translated it to Portuguese?
Kate: Yeah, I had someone translate it for me. One of the books, “Petrified Pete” into Portuguese
Laurie: Okay. Okay. And how was that going and where do you sell it from?
Kate: I, I will, I sell it cause most of my books, I sell at bilingual schools here in, um, in the city Brasilia, which is the Capitol.
And, um, I, but I also have my books in a few local, like a little local store and a cafe and, so I don’t tend to sell that one as much, which is really surprising. I thought that would be like the biggest seller because that’s the language here. But a lot of the students and a lot of parents, um, want their children to be bilingual. So I don’t sell it as much, but I do sell it in some of the schools, and especially for younger, younger children who are still, you know, learning English or, or someone that is trying to learn Portuguese, the other end as well.
Laurie: Great. So. Yeah. And so they love
Kate: It’s really amazing to hear your book in Portuguese in another language.
And now that I’ve come, I first got here, I had no idea of the language, but now like can kind of understand to hear it and hear the translation. It’s really interesting.
Laurie: I think that would be just fantastic. Some of my books are being translated, but I haven’t heard them. I’ve seen them, but I don’t, I don’t know what they
Kate: You’ll have to go to a reading, like show up somewhere and at a reading and hear it.
Laurie: Yeah. In China.
Kate: Yeah, in China. It’s a good incentive to go.
Laurie: There you go. Oh, I can have all plans. Um. So what along the way, I mean, it sounds like it was a real learning process for you and you’ve, you know, you’ve done a ton of learning and like you say, there’s so much to learn and we all learn at different rates.
Was there anything that was, um, surprising for you along the way?
Kate: Yeah, I mean, one of the things, um, that really stands out to me that, um, shocked me was. When I was starting to research business, um, to begin with, it must have been in the beginning of this process. Um, a lot of, uh, business advices to, you know, start small.
And because I am a big dreamer, I could never get on board with that idea. Like start small. I don’t want a small dream. I want like the world. I want like something big. And so I never quite registered with that meant. It’s very strange because in some ways it’s really obvious. But, um, then along the way I heard this advice about, you know, reach out locally and start local and somehow it clicked that actually starting small meant start local, start in your local community, start in your, you know, the people, you know, the community, you know, and get solid there and grow from there.
And I think that’s one of the most surprising things about the process. It’s something I really love as well. I’d love to share it cause I think it’s such good advice anywhere you are is to start local.
Laurie: So that’s really a bit of benefit for you? It’s really worked?
Kate: Yeah. Especially here because I, you know, I don’t really have a community here per se, but when I found, you know, the bilingual English community in my own town, that was a really good starting point for sharing my books.
Laurie: And so where did you start with like, cause the community at school community? Um, or
Kate: Um, well I did a couple things. I, um, I have a friend who’s also in business and there was a local business starting up for children. And so I contacted them and I kind of did a launch there and had friends come and whoever was coming into the, the store as well.
And also I contacted the bilingual schools here, the local bilingual schools to begin with. And, um, went to visit them and. Yeah.
Laurie: Yeah. A little bit of leg work and finding your audience locally.
Kate: Yes, exactly.
Laurie: And I love how you said, I don’t have a small dream, I have a big dream.
Kate: We all do!
Laurie: We all do! Or we should
Kate: yeah, exactly.
Laurie: How much has it expanded now? Uh, beyond your
Kate: So I, um, I’ve gone to some other cities in Brazil, which has been nice, other schools, and, um, then kind of diversified from bilingual schools into some English, um, teaching schools because, because I have two books, one in English and one in Portuguese, you could actually use them as tools for people learning English here.
So, I’ve kind of gone that way. And, um, also I’m looking into doing a few partnerships here as well. Um, I’ve been talking to some businesses about doing some partnerships. So it’s kind of how it’s expanded and also a few in the U S as well. I mean, that is also been a little bit of a slower process than I thought.
But, um, yeah, I’m looking to have some of my books there as well in some stores that are kind of familiar to me.
Laurie: Yeah, well that’s exciting. Do you sell on Amazon?
Kate: Yes, I do sell on Amazon. Though, I find that selling to schools tends to be where I make my most, my greatest profits.
Laurie: Okay. So being in Brazil, I’m assuming you do large print runs to sell to schools, so how do you coordinate that?
Kate: Yeah. Um, well, it was really tricky at first. It’s cause it’s so different here and it’s. It’s not always so straight forward. So, um, I, I did a run with someone that kind of, I mean it ended up working out in the end, but it was tricky.
And then I found a local company that did a run of, of books and they were able to negotiate the price with me because it’s not, I love the model of print on demand cause it’s just so much easier. You don’t have books sitting around.
Kate: But you can’t do that here. They don’t have it. So I had to like seek out. So then, um, sometimes as well I’ll import books from the U S to here. It works out depending on the amount, it’ll work out kind of similar in price. Oh, it can be quite expensive here as well to, um, do runs of books cause they’re just not familiar with low cost in terms of like color pages, you know, the quality of children’s books.
They do more like, you know, basic printing. So. It’s been a little bit of a challenge as well.
Laurie: Yeah, and that’s interesting that it could even, you know, even out the costs because the shipping, the shipping costs can be,
Kate: Is very high. Yeah.
Laurie: Yeah. Yeah. Have you looked into printing in China?
Kate: I haven’t. I should do that. It’s a good idea. That might make a difference. It’s harder because Brazil is had very rigid, um, import, um, laws. So it’s really tricky here.
Like, I don’t even, I don’t have anyone send me mail here, so it’s really hard. I mean, I mean, it’s been okay to receive books. They tend to be okay. So it might work. I should look into it. Yeah.
Laurie: I’ll, I’ll send you the name of a company, the, um, a collective that, um, has good prices for printing and I don’t know if it’ll work or not. It doesn’t work out great for me in Canada. Just the shipping, like when the shipping is as much as printing the books.
Kate: Right. I know. See, that’s the problem. Yeah. Yeah. I’ll have to have a look at that. Thank you. That’d be amazing.
Laurie: Yeah. Yeah. I’ll do that. Um, so I loved to, I loved your story of what you’ve spent some of your earnings on, so please share that with everybody. All you have to,
Kate: well, so I had, I shared, uh, that I have, um.
One practical, um, um, spend and a frivolous spend, and my practical spend was putting a little money aside to do a copy editing course because my grammar growing up and spelling were appalling, and it’s terrible for a writer to have this terrible skill set. So, um, that’s been really great.
And then my little frivolous spend, I really love. Um, my, my, um. My grandmother and my mother have always made clothing. And so I really love the idea of having like something handmade. So, um, I put a little money into, um, having a dress made for myself and from fabric that had been my grandmother’s fabric.
She has all this old fabric that’s beautiful and such nice quality. So I, I was able to use one of the pieces of fabric and have it made into a beautiful dress. And that’s been really nice. So it’s more
Laurie: Do you have a picture of you in the dress?
Kate: I do randomly somewhere. I’ll have to send it, I’ll have
Laurie: Dig it out. I think that’s
Kate: I, I had to take it to send it to my mom as well because she gets really excited about seeing her mom’s fabric, you know, being used all these years later.
Laurie: Yeah, I think that’s so neat and it’s something that doesn’t happen very much, you know like.
Kate: No, and it’s really special here that, I mean, I found someone that does amazing work that I feel confident that they won’t, you know, charge me for something and do a bad job. It’s actually beautiful work, so it’s really nice.
Laurie: And where did you find the copy editing course? Was that an online course?
Kate: Yeah, it’s actually through the San Diego extension.
Um, they do a lot of courses online. So this one’s online, which is great. So I can take it at home. And it’s fun. I mean, when I was in school, I hated grammar, but it’s actually really fun now.
It’s like kind of puzzles and thinking it, I mean, it’s a lot to remember, but it’s, I think it’s really good for my brain too. Also. I
Laurie: I am just like you. I love online learning. School, I mean, I did okay, but it’s not like it was exciting, right? It was just slog through and get the job done.
Kate: You try and beat the system to get good grades.
Laurie: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Like you do what you gotta do. But now, like the advent of online learning. I am enrolled in so many courses. I have taken so many courses, but I’ve learned so much and it’s such a difference when it’s something you’re interested in, right?
Kate: Yeah, totally. And it can be, it can go across so many different areas, the skills you learn, so,
Laurie: Oh, definitely.
Yeah. I’m trying to get 11 year old, I’m like, what can you take and what, what skills can you learn so that, yeah, you don’t have to have a paper route, you can do something else.
Laurie: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Um, so what advice do, you said you had lots of advice, but do you have a, um, one in particular piece of advice that you would give to somebody starting out? Maybe somebody you know, like you at the beginning of your journey years ago.
Kate: Yeah. Um, definitely. I think like one of the principles that I think goes for writing is, um, to actually sit down and write and to make the time every day and have a regular practice. And also, um, even if it’s 10 minutes a day, but also being, allowing, allowing yourself to write crap because not every day is going to be an inspired day where you’re writing amazing things. Like some days it’s hard and it’s challenging, but you have to sit through those days. And I think it’s important, not just because then you produce something, but also because then you learn that you know, the next day is different. And when you go back to a day where you’re not feeling inspired, you just know it’s a phase.
So it’s teaching, it’s like. Flexing or learning, you know, really developing your muscle as a writer. Um, so I think that’s really important because so many people I know that are really amazing writers, um, they never either sit down and write because you know, they’re trying to write the most perfect novel or the most perfect story.
And so they can’t start or you know, they don’t make the time and you know, 10 minutes yields, you know, something, something to edit. So I think that is really important if you want to write and then just keep going from there and, and, and, you know, keep working on your craft. I’ve learned so much just by sitting down and doing it.
Laurie: I think that’s such great advice. Just do it. Butt in chair. And uh, I love the, allow yourself to write crap because we do. That’s not good. So, and then we edit the same sentence over and over and over and
Kate: Exactly. And then we’ve wasted hours on it and
Laurie: Yeah, just let it flow out. Whether it’s good or bad or ugly or whatnot, it doesn’t matter.
Kate: Exactly, and sometimes when you write crap and you go back and you read it like weeks later. Cause I think it’s important to put your writing aside too. Like if you’ve completed something and go back. You see it with different eyes and some of the things that you think were crap. Were not. Were actually like, you know, they might’ve been kind of fun. You never know. So yeah. You know, you have to just let yourself be with your writing and the whole.
Laurie: Yeah, so we didn’t talk about your books. Why don’t we talk about your books. What are you books about?
Kate: So they’re all different. But all of them are kind of, um, humorous and in rhyme. And one of them is a little mystery story.
It’s very kind of English cause it’s set in a tea shop, but it has a little twist to it. Um, so that’s “Mary and Me”. And then “No Rain” is about, um, it’s the African Saara. Well, I guess that’s the Portuguese word for Sahara. Um, but it’s dry season. So that’s actually been kind of popular here. Cause there’s a dry season as well here, where it’s like three months of no rain, which is the name of the book, “No Rain”.
Um, and then another book is called “No One To Hug”. And that one’s about a little girl who’s bullied and how she finds it in herself to find what is actually true in what she knows to be true of who she is. Um, and then the last one is “Petrified Pete”, which is about a little boy who had lots of different fears, and that’s the one that’s been translated.
Kate: Yeah. Those are the 4 books and um, yeah, they’re all in rhyme, and for three to five year olds. So.
Laurie: And where can people find them?
Kate: So they can find them on amazon.com, amazon.co.uk. Even amazon.com.br and on Amazon for sure. And you can actually find the link on my website as well. So,
Laurie: Which is Katewoodard.com?
Laurie: Yes. Perfect. Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you. I’m very jealous of your sun. Trying not to be.
Kate: And I’m jealous of your winter. grass is greener. Always such a pleasure to be on here with you. I like ages ago, I have to say this little story. You usually go when I was trying to find information. I went on, I listened to a podcast, the self publishing show, and I, um, you were on there and I thought it was really inspiring to hear you.
Laurie: Thank you. Thank you. That’s a great, that’s a great one. They do such a good job and it was fun to go on there. Children’s, children’s books are a whole other world, right?
Kate: Yeah, totally. There’s only to like people interviewed on there because of that. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s its own entity. So it’s great that you’re doing this podcast to help all other children’s book writers out there.
Laurie: Well, I feel like as parents and teachers, so many of us, we just, we have stories in our heads and it always becomes that, what if, what if I could. You know, can I, and, and what would happen and how would I do it?
And like you said, there’s a lot to learn, but it’s doable. You know, the age of online courses, everything is, is doable. So why not know?
Kate: And hearing from someone else that’s done it is really inspiring. So,
Laurie: Yeah, that’s why I like to talk to people. Thank you. I so appreciate you coming on and thank you for your, your kind words and all of your links and info and all that. The books will be in the description. So anybody who is interested can, can find you and track down those, those books and have a look at the one in Portuguese for sure. Cause that’s fun. Thank you. So I’ll say goodbye.
Kate: Thank you so much. Bye.