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Linda Kandelin Chambers on the Joys of Writing for Children and the Power of Self-Publishing

“Life is mostly innocent and pure when we are very little or at least it should be, and so it is the simplicity of childhood I am drawn to when writing,” declares Xlibris author Linda Kandelin Chambers.

Chambers published a series of illustrated children’s books, namely ABC Poetry, On the Farm, Cheroot, The Littlest Bull, Mumps, Inside My Grandma’s Pocket, On a Journey to Mirthf and Be Good Boys, all of which met positive reviews from readers both young and young at heart.

Born and raised on a ranch in the San Fernando Valley, Chambers grew up amongst cowboys, film stars, artists, jockeys, ranchers, farmers, political dignitaries, and others by working in her parents’ successful business, Frank Kandelin Western Wear & Saddlery, located in North Hollywood, California. Chambers studied at the University of Barcelona, the Sorbonne in Paris, and Westminster College in London before returning to the United States to complete her degrees in language arts, Spanish, and philosophy. She lives in northern Nevada on a small ranch with her husband, recently retired stuntman Steve Chambers.

“I was raised on a working ranch in the San Fernando Valley. My father was a cowboy and my mother an English teacher. Together they instilled in me a deep respect and love for nature and animal life. My mom taught me the wonder of words and their deeper meanings. These are the influences I draw from when writing for children.”

Each of the eight children’s books that the author self-published in seven years was illustrated by award-winning artists from around the world. She has promoted her books in annual book events like the Nevada Library Conference. “I have learned that when my books are put into the hands of librarians, teachers, and parents, that they like them and will buy. So it is important for me to continue to interact with the public. I want to attend events in Idaho and Arizona for instance. It is expensive and time-consuming to do so, but well worth the effort,” the author observes.

“I have heard from parents and children alike from all over the country, and every response has been a good one! When I visit schools and libraries to do a reading, it’s been the same.”

When asked about the primary message she wants to impart to her readers in all her books, the author pointed out the value of joy and learning. “Enjoy . . . and maybe learn a little while you’re reading. Four of my books actually have a glossary at the back so that the unusual words and phrases I like to introduce are fully explained for the child reader. For instance, in ABC Poetry there’s a “sneaky deft eft” in the “E” poem, and in Cheroot children will learn about “cloudberries” and a beaver’s “cache.”

“These are not common words and so I’ve provided a glossary whereby the young reader may broaden his or her knowledge and expand vocabulary while enjoying a good story! I’ve found that little children really love to learn and respond very well to not only being entertained but taught something new as well.”

Chambers also shared her views about her own self-publishing experience when asked about advice she can give to potential authors. “In terms of becoming a self-published author, I would encourage a new author to move forward with confidence. There are a dozen reasons why I continue to self publish. It is actually a topic about which I have lectured to large groups of librarians on the West Coast of the U.S. However, to begin with, I chose to self-publish because I was impatient to get the book out there, if you know what I mean.”

“The process of sending a manuscript to a publisher who wants to be assured that the work is exclusive drags the process on and on. By that, I mean most publishing houses require that a writer promise that he or she is not submitting to anyone else at that time. They want an “exclusive” submission. The wait for an answer is a long one, sometimes taking as many as four to six months before receipt of a reply. If one is rejected, then you’ve got to start all over again.”

“In today’s market, it’s almost impossible to break through. Publishing houses have a stable of writers already on contract, with successful formulae in place, and monies paid. There is very little room for someone new. It’s why we see the same authors on the Best Seller lists year after year after year.”

“Furthermore, by the time I was doing my second book, On the Farm, I realized I liked the notion of governing how a book will look, what the layout will be, etc. It’s a monumental task to embark on. From the first word on the page to the sales receipt, a self-published author is in charge. However, I own the words and the art outright, which means I can leave a legacy for my children and grandchildren.”

“Self-publishing has moved out of the venue of ‘vanity press.’ It’s now accepted as a legitimate means of producing quality work. The ultimate problem is, of course, the high cost to the author producing the piece as well as the difficulty in advertising one’s book. On the other hand, new avenues have opened up within the last few years that give the self-published author access to bookstores and libraries. The Xlibris website provides many resources and your own perseverance will provide the rest.”

“Oh, and one last thing. . . . Have your work edited by a professional before submission! Poor grammar and punctuation can turn a worthwhile read into an unacceptable one. This is the biggest complaint critics have when reviewing self-published works. Unnecessary mistakes makes the author read like an amateur. You’ve worked too hard to have this happen.”

ABC Poetry, On the Farm, Cheroot, The Littlest Bull, Mumps, Inside My Grandma’s Pocket, On a Journey to Mirthf and Be Good Boys are available at the Xlibris Bookstore.