Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Meet Our 2019 Conference Faculty: Tammi Sauer

Meet the faculty of the 2019 Austin SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Working Conference. We’ve asked all our faculty members to answer 4 quick questions so we can get to know them better.

Tammi Sauer, Author

Tammi Sauer is a full-time children’s book author who presents at schools and conferences across the nation. In addition to winning awards, her books have gone on to do great things. Nugget & Fang was made into a musical and is currently on a national tour with 120 scheduled performances, Wordy Birdy was named a Spring Kids’ Indie Next pick, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, and a Barnes & Noble Best Book of the Month, and Your Alien, an NPR Best Book of the Year, was recently released in Italian, Spanish, Korean, and French which makes her feel extra fancy. To learn more about Tammi and her 27 books, visit her on the web at

Tammi Sauer
Tammi Sauer

What attracted you to children’s books?

I had a professor in college who began each class by reading a picture book. It was always such a joy to enter her classroom and know that the hour was going to start in such a wonderful way. This same professor noticed I was good at writing. One day, she pulled me aside after class and told me I should pursue publication. Knowing that she believed in me gave me the courage to try.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part about my job is discovering that a book of mine has really connected with a kid. I love getting pictures and emails from parents and notes from kids that let me know that something I wrote has, in some way, made a difference. For example, at the end of one of my school visits, a girl handed a letter to me. The last line was “You make me light up like Christmas lights.” It doesn’t get better than that.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

For me, the most challenging part of my job is coming up with a good idea. I can come up with 726 okay ideas before breakfast. Those good ideas? Those fresh, irresistible-to-editors ideas? Whew. Those are hard to uncover. But when I get one? Well, that’s when the fun starts.

What’s the best piece of advice you were given that helped drive your career?

The best piece of advice that has helped drive my career was found in an old Cynsations post. It was this comment by Lynn Hazen: “My main considerations for any picture book are humor, emotion, just the right details, read-aloud-ability, pacing, page turns, and of course, plot. Something has to happen to your characters that young readers will care about and relate to. Oh, and you have to accomplish all that in as few words as possible, while creating plenty of illustration possibilities. No easy task.”

Come see Tammi Sauer at the 2019 Austin SCBWI conference, May 18-19, 2019