Smith College - Majors in Psychology + Early Childhood Education
Growing up, Ann M. Martin had the job we wanted to have. In fact, she was a huge part of the reason why our founder wanted to become a writer, and later on, an editor. Ann is the author of The Baby-Sitters Club, one of the most successful series in publishing history with more than 176 million books in print. Because of the success, she spent the latter part of the 1980s and most of the 1990s working on the series, which was supposed to debut in 1986 and end in 1987, and to consist of only four titles. Instead it ended 15 years later, with four additional related series, approximately 250 titles, games, a TV series and a feature film. And if you were anything like us, chances are it inspired you to create your own baby-sitters club in your town.
The Baby-Sitters Club became the first children's book series to appear on the USA Today bestseller list. The Baby-Sitters Club also was named as one of the "Books of the Century" by the New York Times Book Review in 1998.
In April 2010, Scholastic, the longtime publisher of the BSC books, published a new novel in the series, "The Summer Before," which was a prequel to the hit series. Re-issued paperback editions of the original books in the series also started to roll out following the book's release. (E-book editions are soon to follow.) And just yesterday Ann's latest novel, "Ten Rules for Living with My Sister," hit bookshelves nationwide.
When Ann isn't writing stories that spur the imaginations of tweens across the country, you can find her indulging in reading, sewing and neeedlework. She also is an animal lover who enjoys spending time with her dog, Sadie, and her cats, Gussie, Pippen and Woody.
Be kind. Be patient. Maintain your sense of humor.
How did you discover your current job?
After graduating from Smith, I taught elementary school for a year, and then entered publishing, working on children’s books. While in publishing, I began writing for children, and after my first three books had been published, I left my job as editor at Bantam Books to write and freelance full-time.
What is your typical day like? What types of things do you do in your job?
I’m an early riser, and I start working by about 8 a.m. (I work at home). I usually answer email for awhile, then write for the rest of the morning. I take a break to walk my dog, have lunch, and run errands, and get back to work around 1:30 p.m. I write for a couple more hours in the afternoon, and end the day by catching up on mail, reading galleys, editing other people’s manuscripts, and so forth.
I also oversee two small foundations that I started in 1990, the Ann M. Martin Foundation and the Lisa Libraries.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?
My favorite part of the writing process is creating characters. The most challenging part is plotting, which is why I rely heavily on outlining.
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
I’m very lucky to be able to work at home and make my own hours. But at times this can be difficult. Sometimes I feel as though I can’t leave my work behind, and I find myself working when I hadn’t intended to.
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
I’ve learned not to be afraid to take risks. The books that I felt were the biggest risks, such as "A Corner of the Universe", were the ones that were the most challenging and exciting to write, and that touched readers in ways I hadn’t expected. And collaboration can be a wonderful thing. I’ve collaborated with several writers, and each time have learned something new about the writing process.
Who are your role models?
My father, a cartoonist, taught me about discipline and about being self-employed. Both of my parents taught me, by example, to be a reader. And I admire countless writers. I learn something about writing every time I read a book. Among the writers I most admire are John Steinbeck, L. Frank Baum, Mildred Taylor and Betsy Byars.
What are some of the rules you live by?
Be kind. Be patient. Maintain your sense of humor. Think before speaking. And be on time!
What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?
(This applies to guys too!) I think it helps to have worked in publishing. A degree in literature or writing is helpful too. And definitely be a reader, so that you can become familiar not only with different forms of writing but with material being published in your field of interest.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
My first book was published almost 30 years ago, and while I think I'll always write, I'd like to start slowing down my schedule so that I can have more time for sewing and needlework, my passions apart from writing.
P.S. We're dying to know, what is your favorite BSC book?
It’s hard to choose just one, but I’ll always be particularly fond of "Kristy’s Great Idea", the first book, because it set the series and the characters in motion.
Image Credit | Dion Ogust