Be Your Own Birder

An Announcement for a New Generation

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Years ago, I never had interest in writing a book, and now I find myself in the unique and inspiring position of having written not one, but… Now announcing… Two! With the official release date just one week away, it’s time to spread wings and let Birds for Kids: A Junior Scientist’s Guide to Owls, Eagles, Penguins and Other Bird Species fly.

Baby Killdeer - Photo by Charles Gates
Baby Killdeer – Photo by Charles Gates

Wait, We’re Doing This Again?

As with Migration: Exploring the Remarkable Journeys of Birds, I never sought to write Birds for Kids, and in fact didn’t know much of the publisher before they approached me with a proposal for a completely different type of book. A shattering timeline, a completely new approach, and most importantly, a radically different audience – these were all challenges I was to face with this new project.

The timing was tight, with just a few weeks for each step of the book writing and submission process. Okay, that’s fine, I’ve worked on deadlines before – more times than I can count.

A new approach – the publisher provided a detailed outline of what they wished to see, including approximate word counts, timelines, and more. This made the process different indeed, but actually aligned well with my experience as a freelance writer and my ingrained writing methodology.

The difference in audience was most stark. For the 20 years I’ve been writing, my work has been geared for adults on all sorts of topics. Even my bird-related writing has always been for a mature audience. But this book was to be for children, specifically for ages 6-9, more or less. I’ve never written exclusively for children before.

Ducklings - Photo by Michele Dorsey Walfred
Ducklings – Photo by Michele Dorsey Walfred

Because the book was to be a complete overview of birding – from about birds to how to be a birder – yet contained within young reader language and the constraint of no more than 80 pages (to include the table of contents, glossary, index, etc.) – this presented a unique challenge to my writing. How was I to communicate a thorough, comprehensive overview in such a short space, and without the ability to sufficiently elaborate? It was an intriguing challenge and turned out far more difficult than I’d have imagined, but I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to bring birding to a new generation of fledgling birders.

Publication Vagrancy

What happened through the process proves that life never keeps the straight path you might anticipate. As the end of the initial writing and submission phase approached, I ran into communication difficulties with the publisher and several bouts of non-responsiveness. Ultimately, I was told there was reorganization in the works and the project was to be cancelled. As the bulk of my work was already complete, the terms of the contract were fulfilled and we were to move our separate ways – it was a lot of work, but with no book to put on the shelves.

Birds for Kids Book

Then, some months later, I received legal notification with words like “creditors” and “equityholders” and “assets” and whatnot. Legalese being what it is, there were no straight answers, but I filed the letter away nonetheless, without another thought of the project that was not to be.

Or was it? I regularly check Amazon to note book sales and whatnot, and suddenly, a new title appeared connected to my name. Wait, what?

Time to Fly

So now, after further rounds with new contacts and under a new (kind of?) publication company, Birds for Kids: A Junior Scientist’s Guide to Owls, Eagles, Penguins and Other Bird Species is taking flight after all. I couldn’t be more pleased with how lovely the book finally turned out, proving that good things are truly worth the wait. The official release date is March 15, 2024 – twenty-two months from the first contact I received about a potential project. What a whirling murmuration of a flight it’s been, but now… Let’s fly!

5 thoughts on “An Announcement for a New Generation

  1. Sally Work

    Wow! What a challenging journey. Congratulations, and best of luck! I plan to get one for a niece who’s mom and grandmother are trying to instill in her a love of the outdoors and nature/birds.

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