Author Jean Fischer and I met on Facebook. After getting to know each other and visiting each other's blogs, I asked Jean if she'd do an interview, and she graciously agreed.
Jean Fischer is a professional writer with a solid background in publishing. Her writing career began at Golden Books where she worked as an editor and creative manager. As a freelance writer, she has co-written and ghostwritten children's books with Christian authors/teachers John MacArthur, Dr John C. Maxwell and Thomas Kinkade. She has also created devotions for the Adventures in Odyssey series concepted by Dr. James Dobson. Jean lives in Racine, WI where she is proudly owned by two house cats and a ring-necked turle dove. You can contact Jean through her Web site.
1. Jean, I understand you worked for Golden Books. Nurse Nancy was one of my favorite stories. Would you share a bit of your experience from your days at the company?
Hi, Susan. Thanks for having me here at the Christian Writer/Reader Connection.
I had just graduated from college when I was hired as an associate editor at Golden Books. I had planned to work in their Book Division, but I was assigned to the Activity Products Division instead. It was the best thing that could have happened. Not only did I gain a wealth of experience about publishing storybooks, but also about a variety of other book formats including word search and crossword puzzles, coloring books, books with stickers and tracing pages, and even educational workbooks.
During my almost 20 years with the company, I did everything from planning and writing to approving book samples as they came off the printing presses. My most rewarding experience at Golden was managing the creative development of books with audio. In that capacity, I worked with Sesame Street, Nickelodeon, Jim Davis (creator of the Garfield comic strips) and other children's entertainment companies. Along with writing the audio scripts, I attended recording sessions in New York and Chicago. It was an amazing experience and also great fun.
2. Some of our readers are interested in freelancing. How do you typically obtain jobs?
Unlike most freelancers, I don't rely on online job boards to find work. I spend hours on the Internet researching publishers who use freelance writers. I especially look for smaller niche publishers that fit my qualifications. For example, I have a degree in elementary education and a strong background writing for children, so I researched book packagers/book producers who act as the middleman for big educational companies. That led to freelance jobs writing language arts textbooks for major educational publishers. Sometimes, the best way in is through the back door.
My advice to your readers interested in freelancing is to read and learn about how the publishing industry works. Big companies often subcontract book development to smaller companies (book packagers and producers). Freelance opportunities can be found there by contacting the Human Resources Departments. It takes time to research and find these smaller companies, but if you connect with one, it can lead to some solid freelance work.
Thanks, Jean. We'll continue with Part II next Wednesday, 9/23/09.
Jean has offered to give away a signed copy of her latest book, Kids' Bible Dictionary, to the winner of a drawing. To enter, simply comment and leave your email address in the usual spam-busting format (susanjreinhardt (at)____ (dot) com). Winners will be drawn from comments to this post and the 9/23/09 post. Limit two entries per person (1 from each post). I'll send along the winner's snail mail address to Jean, who will ship the book directly to you. Contest ends Saturday, September 26, 2009 at midnight. The winner will be announced Sunday, September 27, 2009.