This week’s featured writer is Aubre Andrus, an award-winning children’s book author with more than 25 books published by American Girl, Disney, Lonely Planet Kids, National Geographic Kids, Scholastic, and more. She’s also ghostwritten books for young YouTube stars. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her family. Visit her website and portfolio at www.aubreandrus.com or find her on social media @aubreandrus.
Tell us about your writing journey. How did you begin writing, and how did you break into the industry?
When did you know you could make a career out of it? I started as a PR intern at American Girl. One of my first assignments was to write press releases for some fiction titles. It took about two minutes for me to realize that I didn’t want to write about the books — I wanted to write the books! A couple months later, an associate editor job opened up at American Girl magazine. I landed it. I loved my time spent as an editor, but I worked next to the book department and I couldn’t shake that feeling that I wanted to write a book one day. When I left the company a few years later for a new job, my former editor called me up. I went to work on four nonfiction titles pretty rapidly while I had a full-time job. Once those projects were published (about two years later!) I leveraged that experience to land more book projects with other publishers. I’ve been freelancing for eight years now and have worked on 30+ titles for kids.
What special considerations are required for collaborating on a writing project?
Communication styles. I collaborate with kids and teens, and every project has required a different strategy in order to learn their voices and really pull out the story.
What topics do you particularly enjoy writing about? Why?
Thanks to my journalism background, I find a lot of topics interesting and I can get excited about just about anything! I love to do research and interview people. But travel will always be my most favorite topic to explore because it’s such a passion of mine.
What does your writing routine look like? How do you stay productive and overcome blocks?
I have a home office, which is helpful. While I love the idea of coffee shops, it’s hard to find a spot with plentiful outlets, strong wifi, a real menu, good music, and clean bathrooms. At home, I can control my work environment more and try to set myself up for success. I often turn on the Coffitivity website as background noise. I have a standing desk which keeps me moving and energized while I’m doing research or administrative tasks. But when I really have to get down to writing a manuscript, I’ll usually lower the desk. Also: iced coffee. I live in LA so I can easily access cold brew year round.
If you could go back and change anything about your writing career, is there anything you would choose to do differently?
I wish I would have started pursuing my author career sooner. I assumed I couldn’t possibly earn all of my income from books exclusively, so I spent a lot of time in the early years of my freelance career taking on freelance journalism assignments. I soon realized that my time was better spent pursuing fewer higher-paying projects. There really is a lot more work out there for authors than I ever imagined.
What’s your best piece of advice for someone looking to be a full-time writer?
Treat your career as a business. That means you must market yourself, network, and be very aware of your earning potential. Set standards on what type of project and what type of rate you will consider. And of course: write, write, write! Dedicate time every day to work on a passion project: a novel, a screenplay, whatever!
What are you working on next?
Right now I’m working on a middle grade novel as well as some more science-focused nonfiction middle grade titles for Lonely Planet Kids and National Geographic Kids.
Do you have a story idea? Pitch it to us below, and we’ll work to match you with a writer like Aubre who can help you bring your vision to life.