It was so great to get profiled in Minnetonka Magazine. Read on for my section.
When Minnetonka children’s writer Jonathan Bing was in Japan adopting his son, he began work on a story, “sort of a love letter,” he says, for his daughter. She was 8 years old at the time and back in Minnesota with his wife, Tracy.
Bing wrote five chapters of the story, then came home with his new son. Years later, his daughter asked him what happened to the story. “I kind of walked away from that, so I went back and read it,” says Bing, whose daughter Ellen is now 22; his son Simon is 14. “I realized there was something there.”
Bing completed the magical fantasy aimed at middle-graders (ages 8–12) called The Contraption of Elsewhen. In his novel, a girl finds a flying machine on the edge of a town much like Excelsior, that’s been there for 150 years.
Bing, the owner of a strategy and marketing consulting firm, is now hunting for a literary agent to pitch his manuscript to publishers. As a way to stand out, he’s meticulous in crafting personal query letters to each agent. “They’re looking at [the writers] for their future,” Bing says of agents. “It’s different from saying, ‘Can you tell a good story?’ It’s, ‘Can you tell a good story that’s going to support me?’ Can it sell?”
After writing his children’s picture book, Jimmy Jonny Brownie Stays Up All Night, he decided to start his own publishing company in 2000 to print it. Bing—Jonathan Bing is his pen name for his middle-school work; Bing Puddlepot is his pen name for his picture books—soon discovered he loved writing and creating books, but not the publishing part. He worked tirelessly marketing his self-published book around the Twin Cities. He knows how hard it would be to replicate that work in different markets across the country without the backing of a publisher.
“In reality, me getting 1,700 books sold was miraculous,” he says. “It shouldn’t have happened. But it did because I was out there pounding the pavement.”
Bing has a word of advice for aspiring authors: If it’s your passion, keep writing. “For me as a writer, who has written for other people my entire life, I get to write for myself,” he says. “I get to do the thing I like to do.”
From Minnetonka Magazine, written by Stuart Sudak, illustrations by Sarah Dovolos