Kim Childress is the founding publisher of Childress Ink, a publishing resource, publicity, and product development company centered around books. Thirty years in publishing, Kim is an award-winning editor, author, speaker, and reviewer, including book editor for Girls’ Life magazine since its 1994 debut, and previous middle grade acquisitions editor for HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Zondervan). She’s the author of 100s of books, short stories, and articles for all ages; as regular contributor to Writer’s Digest, The Institute of Children’s Literature’s monthly bulletin, and their annual guides.
You do a lot within the publishing industry, have you always wanted to work in this field? I was always a reader, beginning at age 3 when I begged my mother to teach me to read. I had no idea I would end up writing and editing for children, reviewing for Girls’ Life magazine, and for Christian Publishing. Each opportunity grew from my work in a bookstore and in freelance writing. For writers, putting yourself out there and working on your craft leads to new opportunities.
What do you like best about all your work? I love getting letters and hearing from readers, especially children, just to know my work has helped others in some way provides much-needed encouragement as a writer, where daily rejections are a part of the gig. Also, teaching and mentoring the next generation of writers is one of the most fulfilling parts of what I do.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to succeed in your professional industry? Writing is a craft, one that can be continuously improved. Writers should also be readers, especially in the genre in which you write, as part of “doing your homework” and knowing what books are being released and who is publishing them. Writers need a support system and/or critique group for encouragement. Every single writer questions what they do at some point. And having other writers to help through those questioning times can be life-sustaining. Writers need to persevere, develop a passion that will carry you through as you create and lead you to create more and more. I also advise new writers, plan on having a day job.
What is one (or more) fascinating insight you’ve gleaned from working in the publishing industry? I’ve learned that I am a person who loves to continuously learn new things, and I learn the most by reading.
As an expert in your field, what advice would you give to published authors?As writers, we need to help each other. Every time we share a book, we help the authors self-promote. As a reviewer, I do not write bad reviews. If I do not like a book, I simply stop reading and pick up a new book. There are too many good books out there, and not enough space to share.
Be kind and understanding to your editors and publishers. Your editor wants to make your book the best it can be, and part of being a good editor is knowing what other books are out there, trends, and what works or doesn’t work. Ask questions. Never stop promoting your books. Continuously educate yourself on new and emerging technologies.
Covid has completely changed the publishing industry, supply chain issues are real, sometimes resulting in unexpected delays, even for well-established authors.
What is one (or more) cautionary “pearl” you’d like to share? Recognize that your editor is very, very, very busy, and do not take it personally if there is a month or two between correspondence. Listen to editorial suggestions and think about them before becoming argumentative. But do know as the author you have final say on edits and revisions. Authors who are combative or argumentative may make an editor hesitate before doing more projects together.
What do you think is the biggest reason someone doesn’t get their book published? Social media, having an internet presence, is essential for authors and those in the publishing industry. Having an internet presences is now necessary for ALL businesses, which provides more opportunities for writers.
How do you suggest authors (published and non-published) build their platform, including social media and websites? Reading, blogging, following publishers, continuous education. building an online presence, attend conferences and events, and always stay authentic and honest. I regularly give presentations on this topic at conferences and author events.
For news on the publishing industry and tips for writers, please explore and subscribe to my blog at ChildressInk.com. For book reviews and recommendations, check out Ink-a-Dink.com and subscribe to the blog for reviews, giveaways, author interviews and free resources for educators and parents
What conferences or events do you recommend authors and writers attend? American Library Association hold two annual conferences, summer and winter. Highly recommend for seeing new books,meeting authors and publishers–and also get lots and lots of free books.
For children’s writers, I always recommend joining the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) at SCBWI.org, for annual conferences and author events. SCBWI exists purely to help children’s authors and illustrators market their books.
For Christian fiction writers, I suggest joining the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and attending their conferences.
For whatever genre you write, search for professional organizations related for finding new conferences, such as Poets and Writers Society, etc
Do you speak at conferences or conduct trainings? If so, where can we learn more? I speak annually at different conferences, including SCBWI, Taylor University Professional Writers Conference, Maranatha Writers Conference (discontinued this year, hoping for return), Michigan Association of Media Educators (MAME), where I will be (tentatively at this point) speaking this coming November, 2023.
What book uplifts you? Some of my all-time favorites (not including the Bible), The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster and The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
Anything else you’d like to share? Do your homework, persevere, your voice matters.
Image Courtesy of Kim Childress