In fifth grade, my school had a program where each student could write and illustrate a published book. It was fantastic! Best project ever for a budding writer.
Out of curiosity, I just looked up Studentreasures, the publisher that ran the program, and they seem to be doing well. I was half-afraid they’d be out of business or something considering it’s been 16 years. But they’ve “helped over 6 million students publish a book” — quite impressive!
Below are the books I published in fifth and sixth grade:
Change Independence, written when I was ten, has two short stories about time travel and the dangers of changing history. Heck yeah.
The first story is shamelessly based on the musical 1776, where John ends up in the body of Pennsylvania delegate James Wilson. Unlike the musical, John votes against independence and ruins the entire revolution.
The second story was added just because I needed to fill the rest of the book’s pages. Nikki ends up in the body of Mary Todd Lincoln on the fateful day her husband was shot at Ford’s Theatre. Knowing what would happen, she tries to push Lincoln out of the way and ends up getting shot instead.
Blood-Soiled Collars, written when I was eleven, is a short story about animal rights. Connie and her family fight to save animals from an evil corporation. When a mission goes wrong, she adopts an orphaned otter. Then her brother betrays her and sells the otter to the corporation. And yes, it includes an illustration of a dead otter in a pool of blood. I was a special child.
So there you have it. That’s how I’ve been published since the age of ten. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized that my first experience with publishing was actually self-publishing.
And now, sixteen years later, I have a short story in another self-published anthology, an essay in an upcoming self-published book, and plans to self-publish more short stories as ebooks while I finish revising my novel. I still want to shop that around to traditional publishers first. I’d love to balance indie and traditional publishing.
But it’s fun to think how I’m continuing down a path I started in elementary school.
Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.