In this post, we review Dr. Angela Lauria’s Book Journeys interview with Jennie Withers, author of Hey, Get a Job! A Teen Guide for Getting and Keeping a Job.
Jennie’s book is aimed at high school kids, and this came about when, as a teacher, Jennie was teaching job skills to ninth graders and was shocked at how little her students knew when it came to looking for a job. She knew that kids that age would rather not ask their parents for things, and after looking around realized that, while there was a lot of information aimed at college students, there was none for high school kids. Jennie then went about researching the matter, asking employers who hired high school kids about the matter, and after collecting her research decided to share it with more than just her students, hence her writing a book.
Jennie found it easy to write Hey, Get a Job!, which she self-published, as the subject matter lent itself to a workbook format, with activities to be done, just like her lessons. She write the book while holding a full-time job, so, for her, it was a matter of finding the time throughout her schedule when she could write, getting large blocks of time on Sundays. Jennie is an outliner, and after writing out the outline using pen and paper, she then wrote the book from start to finish, rather than first writing out the easier sections and then writing out the harder ones.
Also a mother, Jennie had to deal with her kids consistently seeking attention from her, and to keep track of what she was writing about when she needed to break off she kept notes in a notebook about what she was then writing about, which helped her when she got back to writing. She also encountered writer’s block, which she realized was her conscience telling her to do something else, and after doing something else and getting back to writing she realized that her subconscious had worked out whatever it was that was blocking her, and she could write again.
Jennie made the point, in the interview, that using a traditional publisher, which she did for her second book, wasn’t working for her. She mentioned that her publisher didn’t do as good of a job on the graphic design as her graphic designer friend on her first book, and hasn’t communicated with her about anything, even so they could coordinate some sort of marketing plan. The publisher also didn’t fulfil on a lot of the promises they had verbally made to her, and notes that, if she had to do it over again, she would have those promises included in her contract. She also mentioned that, unlike the sixty-five to seventy percent of the profit that goes to her with a self-published book, she only gets seven percent from the traditionally published book; and given that she has to do the marketing herself, as traditional publishers don’t handle that, she finds it demotivating doing so, as marketing isn’t worth it, given the little money she gets from the book sales.