International Author Series - Jeff Kinney by Georgie Donaghey

​Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney didn't grow up wanting to be a children's author. His dream was to become a newspaper cartoonist, but he wasn't able to get his comic strips syndicated.

In 1998 Jeff came up with the idea for Diary of a Wimpy Kid, a story about a middle-school weakling named Greg Heffley. Jeff worked on his book for almost eight years before showing it to a publisher in New York.

Jeff Kinney was born in 1971 in Maryland and attended the University of Maryland in the early 1990s. It was there that Jeff ran a comic strip called "Igdoof" in the campus newspaper, and he knew he wanted to be a cartoonist.

However, Jeff was not successful in getting his comic strip syndicated after college, and in 1998 he started writing down ideas for Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which he hoped to turn into a book. Jeff worked on the book for six years before publishing it online on in daily installments. To date, the online version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid has more than 80 million visits, and is typically read by more than 70,000 kids a day.

In 2006, Jeff signed a multi-book deal with publisher Harry N. Abrams, Inc. to turn Diary of a Wimpy Kid into a print series. The first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book was published in 2007 and became an instant bestseller. Just a year later, more than 100,000 copies were in print in the United States alone. With each subsequent book, in-print numbers continue to grow exponentially both in the U.S. and abroad. The ninth book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, sold more than 2 million copies in all formats around the world in its first week. There are more than 164 million copies of the series in print.

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has been a fixture on the USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. The series has remained on the New York Times bestseller lists since the publication of the first book, for more than 450 weeks total, and more than 350 on the series list. The books are currently available in 54 editions in 50 languages.

Since initial publication in 2007, the series has gone on to win many regional and national awards around the globe including two Children's Choice Book Awards and six Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards for Favorite Book. Jeff Kinney was named one of Time magazine's most influential people in the world. In addition, three movies based on the book series have grossed more than $250 million internationally.

Jeff Kinney is also the creator of Poptropica, which was named one of Time Magazine's 50 Best Websites. He spent his childhood in the Washington, D.C., area and moved to New England in 1995. Jeff lives with his wife and two sons in Massachusetts, where they own a bookstore, An Unlikely Story.

About the Author taken from

1. What is the Jeff Kinney story?

The Jeff Kinney story is (hopefully) just halfway through, but here are the main points: Greg up in a middle-class neighborhood, got into computers at a young age, wanted to be a newspaper cartoonist. Couldn't break in, so came up with a different way to deliver comics... in books. Published Diary of a Wimpy Kid in 2007. Crazy ride ever since.

2. What five words best describe you?

Flawed, ambitious, creative, tolerant, tired

3. What prompted you to sit down and write your first story?

I always felt like I was born to be a cartoonist, but I didn't know how to get my work out there. Finally I discovered the format for Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and I spent nine years developing it before it was published.

4. Is there any part of the creative process you don't like?

I find all of it to be very difficult. If I was writing at a slower pace, it might be easier, but publishing a book a year makes for some difficult deadlines.

5. Are you a plotter or a panster? (Plotter =Plotting out your manuscript before you write it. / Panster = Putting pen to paper and plotting as you go along)

I'm a plotter, for sure. I outline everything before I start.

6. What excites you about the future of children's books?

What excited me about the future of kids' books is that they're growing in popularity. In many bookstores, the children's section is the most profitable. I think it's important to put a real, physical book into the hands of a kid.

7. What's the funniest thing a child has ever said to you during a read aloud session?

hmmm... can't think of anything funny!

8. What's next from Jeff Kinney?

I'm working on a Wimpy Kid musical and a new feature film. Hopefully one day I'll write a new book series. In the mean time, I'm working on the 11th Wimpy Kid book!

​Picture Book Authors Writing Routines by Megan Hi...
Should I be paid? by Georgie Donaghey


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Thursday, 15 April 2021

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