Interviewed by Linda Lane
Amanda Litz has had a passion for storytelling for as long as she can remember. Being one of four children and having four children of her own, she knows how hard it can be for kids to find their place in the family and the world. For her, it is a dream come true to write and publish her own children’s books.
Have you always been an avid reader, Amanda?
I read whenever I get a chance between the kids, the dog, my husband, and work. However, I didn't like to read as a child, and I was 14 before I really started to enjoy reading books.
When did you begin writing?
Why did you choose to write children’s books?
It’s more like children’s books chose me. The first book I wrote was based on a bedtime story I used to tell my kids. They begged me to write it down for years, so I finally did.
Do you have a goal when writing your books?
I like to think my books are both educational and fun. I try to encourage broad life lessons in my writing — acceptance of differences, autonomy, self-confidence, and teamwork. Also, my early reader series Sam and Pam Can and You Can Too! shows kids things they can do.
Have you ever created supplemental material to accompany your books?
I have a coloring and activity book that goes with my Pirate's Treasure chapter book. It doesn't help kids to read so much as it helps them to think about what they read with word searches, word scrambles, cross-word puzzles, and more.
Do you illustrate your books?
Illustrating is not a talent of mine.
I have used 3 illustrators so far. My basic criteria now is someone local who is willing to do events that support our books. I also check style. It’s important that the author and illustrator have the same vision for the book they are creating.
Are your books professionally edited?
Yes. I think it is important to get another set of eyes and perspective on my stories to give them the best chance for success. Beyond the basics of grammar and punctuation, editors help to fill in gaps in logic and story line.
Why did you choose to self-publish?
I am not a fan of the term "self-publish." I prefer the term "artisanal publishing" which “features writers who love their craft and who control every aspect of the process from beginning to end" as described by Guy Kawasaki in his book APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. I did the research and chose the path of artisanal publishing because it was the best fit for me. In 2009 I created my publishing company, Traveler's Trunk Publishing.
Do you have any words of wisdom for those who would like to write and market children’s books?
Beyond writing, I do things to get more books in the hands of kids and get them interested in reading and writing. I do school visits, where we talk about what it is like to be an author and illustrator and do activities related to my books. I have story time and have started story writing programs to do at libraries.
I recently finished my “100 Libraries in 100 Days” crowd-funding campaign, where individuals would buy my books and choose which library (anywhere in the country) they would like to donate them to in exchange for a perk such as a print from my Sam and Pam series or an autographed book or bookmark. At the end of the campaign, we sent out 156 books to 34 libraries in 13 states.
Our next project is called “Raising Spirits with Reading.” Our goal is to raise enough funds to provide an autographed book for every child in Helen Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and have the authors come and read to the children and hand out the books. The date for this event is set for Saturday, November 30th. Anyone who would like to contribute to this event can donate at Raising Spirits with Reading.
Amanda Litz, founder of Traveler's Trunk, author of The Traveler’s Trunk Series, The Great Gumshoe, and Sam and Pam series, and owner of Traveler’s Trunk Publishing, is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives with her husband and four children near Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can learn more about Amanda and her books at TravelersTrunkPublishing.com/