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Check Out Margo Dill’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Margo Dill. 

Hi Margo, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
In 1998, I answered an ad in a Family Circle magazine about a correspondence course about writing for children. I was assigned an instructor whom I only communicated with by mailed letters, and the Institute of Children’s Literature sent me a big, white binder full of my lessons–which I completed and mailed back to my instructor. That all makes me sound like a dinosaur! I learned a lot, and I was hit with the writing and publishing bug. I started my first published book, Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg, a historical fiction novel for 9 to 12-year-olds, in that class. 

Like all writers, I had a dream of being one kind of writer when I started–a famous, rich, and successful one. I dreamed that I would write children’s fiction, and I would be loved by kids around the world. What I quickly realized is that if I wanted to make a living as a writer, I had to write all kinds of pieces–kids’ stories and activities for magazines, newspaper articles about school boards, bios for law firms, standardized testing questions, and more. 

While I did this different type of writing, I also kept working on my fiction, and I managed to get three books traditionally published with small to mid-size publishers, where they paid me royalties. I was a REAL author. I did school visits and taught fiction writing courses. I did all of this while teaching elementary school or working as a freelancer and being a mom and wife. 

Then I got divorced. I wanted to stop writing. I wanted to stop creating. I was exhausted and burnt out, and I couldn’t do anything creative. 

Instead of this, though, I kept writing small pieces–mostly nonfiction on a blog for WOW! Women On Writing, and I was brutally honest about how I was going through a divorce and couldn’t write. I figured someone else out there might be feeling the same way. I’m not sure if they were or not, but what it did for me was keep me in the “writing game.” I also stayed in my critique group, and a conference they invited me to changed my life. 

In November of 2019, my critique group went to the 20Books to 50K conference in Las Vegas, and I learned about the current indie publishing trend. People were publishing themselves, and making money from it–more money than I was currently making with my three traditionally-published books. They were smart, savvy writers who took marketing and their readers seriously, and I was inspired. I came home, and I started writing every morning–no matter what. I published two more books for myself. 

Coincidentally, a 91-year-old member of a former critique group, Fred Olds, contacted me on Facebook one day and asked me if I would consider helping him publish his books on Amazon for 50 percent of the royalty. And I thought you know what, Fred, I can do one better than that–I can become your publisher. And thus, Editor-911 Books was born. 

At Editor-911 Books, I operate as a traditional publisher–my authors pay no money to be published, and I pay them 50% of the profits we make. I also am always looking for ways to market them! At my company, I do publish myself, but I also publish other authors–and I like to say that we are a traditional publisher who thinks outside the box–I have chosen to publish writers whom I know are excellent, but for some reason or other, they were having trouble getting published on their own–Fred is an excellent writer, but he’s not what New York agents are looking for (parents and kids love him!); Cinda Bauman wrote a book that has a main spunky character who also believes in God, but Cinda wants the book to be geared toward a secular audience, and Sioux Roslawski is a 60-something-year-old White middle school teacher who wrote a book with a 12-year-old Black protagonist who lived during the Tulsa Race Massacre. Plus, I have two more authors under contract. 

The other day, Sioux asked me if I considered changing Editor-911 Books to Dream-Maker Publishing because she said that I make dreams come true. But we have a long way to go. It’s not easy to sell kids’ books–but I will not give up. We are creating outside-the-box methods to get our books into kids’ hands and into schools without kids and schools having to pay for them, while still providing money for the author and some for my business, too. After all, it is a business and I’m a single mom. 

I can’t wait to see where Editor-911 Books goes and all the lives that the books and the authors impact along the way! 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
As a children’s author, I have had struggles and obstacles. Common challenges for children’s authors are that our audience is not who buys the books (parents/teachers/librarians buy the books), and kids usually want or ask for what’s in popular mainstream culture. 

However, if we can reach kids–at a library or through a school–then they are really excited about meeting an author and reading our books! Being an indie publisher, it’s difficult to get books into brick-and-mortar bookstores or to compete with publishers who have large marketing budgets. 

But honestly, a couple of mantras keep me going: there is always a way to work around an obstacle if I just keep moving forward. One step forward, toward my goals each day, gets me one step closer–it’s simple and cliche, but it keeps me going. I’m also not scared to admit if something is not working, or I have to try something different. 

When I got divorced and had to get a “day job” for insurance and benefits, and I was emotionally and physically drained, I wanted to quit writing fiction, but something in me just didn’t let me. Something in me had to keep writing–I just flipped the script to a different type of writing–creative nonfiction, blogging, essays–and went back to kids’ books when my life calmed down, and I began healing. 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I have two parts to my business: Editor-911 Writers Services and Editor-911 Books. I am known for being a writing coach and teacher as well as an editor and children’s author. Now since June 2020, I am also known as a small publisher. 

I love helping writers! Through the website WOW! Women On Writing, where I am a managing editor and instructor, I’ve been able to meet, teach, and edit countless authors–many who have gone on to publish their work in some way! That’s so exciting! 

With my own business, I have authors who have gotten agents for their picture books or have won awards with their writing. They have received publishing contracts from mid-size presses or created their own indie press. It’s just very exciting and rewarding to start with an author and a manuscript draft and help them shape it into a publishable work. 

But the best is honestly finding an author and saying: YES, I WANT TO PUBLISH YOUR BOOK–and then editing it, designing it, and putting it out in the world for authors. 

Editor-911 Books is a brave press that is willing to take a chance on a new author. I am known for encouraging all authors and helping people be the best writers they can be. I try to do the same with my own writing–making the stories the best they can be. 

Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
Besides my daughter and my dog, who are both my greatest loves, writing makes me happy. Every day that I have a chance to work on my own book or an Editor-911 book, I feel happy and fulfilled. Why? Because I was meant to be a writer. I know that in my being. I was meant to create words and stories. 

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