Journeygirl’s Road to Publication

Hello Children’s Writers and Friends,

It seems never ending these days, I’ve been hearing about another couple of new publishing houses, but I’d like to take the time to find out a little more before I share again on this topic, other than to say I was able to speak to Clare Halifax of Scholastic at The Creative Kids Tales Festival and asked her the question I’ve seen several others asking in groups and forums online. Namely, ‘How Can I Tell Which Publishers are Open to Illustrator Submissions?’ I’ve put the answer Clare gave as an update on last month’s post, so press the arrow key and have a look if it’s of interest to you… or a friend.

As to the actual subject of this post, my journey along the road thus far, here are some of the hills and valleys which have led me to a big green signpost on the road to publication marked ‘Signed Contract!’ Yes, I realise an exclamation mark is probably incorrect at the end of the previous sentence, but I’m sure any emerging writer knows exactly why it’s there.

I hope the following three questions will cover what you’d like to know in the bounds of what I’m allowed to tell you. If not and I can tell you please post your question below and I’ll endeavour to get back to you soon if it is an answer I’m permitted to provide. What was the process of getting this manuscript to contract stage? What is the importance of Networking? What’s been happening since I signed my contract? This will be a two-part Post so that it does not become too long and boring. Question one will be covered this month and questions two and three next month.

What was the process of getting this manuscript to contract stage?

As it turned out, the road I ended up taking to get this manuscript published was a long and convoluted one. As The Sorrowful Star (working title) was one of my earlier manuscripts I still knew very little about Picture Books including expected word length. The original story was around a thousand words. I shortened it to enter a short story competition to be part of an Anthology. This longer version was published in Zinewest 2014 (run by what is now WestWords ) but in my heart it was always a PB because I could visualise the spreads.

With this in mind I had assessments with an editor of one of the large publishing houses for two years in a row. The editor liked my story the first year, but explained that it was not a PB for several reasons, not the least of which was length. I worked on it at home and in my FAW (Fellowship of Australian Writers) critique group

I had also discovered (CKT) Creative Kids Tales ( by now and more specifically Pen Pals, the predecessor to the current Creative Kids Tales Critique Group, of which I am still an active member. I posted a request for Pen Pals to which three people responded, one being Kathy Creamer, who loved my ms and felt sure it would be published. At the second year assessment, to my delight I found that the editor was impressed with my dedication to the story and my willingness to make suggested changes to the ms. The editor wanted me to make a few more changes. The manuscript changed again, quite considerably as I readily agreed to all the proposed changes, bar one. I provided my reasons for not wishing to make this change and my willingness to work together to find an alternative. For whatever reason, as there were other factors I became aware of later, which were certainly out of my, and possibly their control, I heard nothing more from that editor, even after sending a polite enquiry a few months later.

I finally resigned myself to the fact that it was time to find a new home for this ms which obviously had merit. I applied to about three other houses, losing heart and taking longer to submit elsewhere each time. Fast forward 3 years, 4 years from when I first penned The Sorrowful Star, and Kathy Creamer has herself moved into publishing, establishing Little Pink Dog Books publishing house (  with her husband, Dr. Peter Creamer. For one week in September last year they opened their doors to unsolicited manuscript submissions. Naturally, along with a couple of other manuscripts I submitted, the manuscript with the new title of Star. Kathy recognised it at once, but was saddened to see the many changes which had been made to this once beautifully lyrical manuscript. It had become for want of a better word, ‘cute’. I was told that LPDB was interested in taking my story further, but asked to find the version Kathy and I had once worked on together. Not remembering exactly which version that was, I now had exactly 8 different versions of this ms, I sent Kathy 4 which were completed around the same time. Using these she was able to find the exact one we worked on complete with her own editing notes. I guess what’s noteworthy here is that it was the more lyrical version that Little Pink Dog Books were interested in, yet the other publisher liked the ‘cuter’ version. Without being biased at all here… uh hmm… I believe both were sound, well-written stories with a great plot and characters with whom it’s easy to empathise. So I guess, if you receive a rejection, fellow travellers, keep moving along the road, it simply might not have been your stop.

At this stage, there were still several other manuscripts under consideration and no doubt several other factors too. Announcements were being made of other authors to be published from that September submission and I waited with baited breath to hear from LPDB again, which in due course I did. While they worked on their decisions, I had to come to terms with falling in love again with the older version of a manuscript. I’d put a lot of work into taking it in a different direction. I was of course going to do it, I’m no fool, but it did require me to ‘kill my new darling’ and recommit to my first love. I read and reread The Sorrowful Star until I once again saw its beauty. By this time, I had heard from LPDB again. Peter Creamer was now my contact person as we tried to find and agree upon an illustrator. There were several options; an established author with a waiting period, an illustration student whose potential they can see and wish to encourage, from a school in England with which LPDB have an affiliation. (A terrific idea, but as an emerging auth, not one I chose for myself) and Kathy herself with a waiting period. More to-ing and fro-ing and eventually I was asked to see what I thought of Margaret Dewar’s work, one image/style in particular. Thankfully I loved Margaret’s work, as I sensed the Creamer’s did too.

Now at last, with everything in place, it was time for contracts to be viewed, scrutinised and signed!y

That’s been my road so far and despite the lows there’s been far more highs and I am

Savoring the quest,

Farewell fellow travellers


What is the importance of Networking? and What’s been happening since I signed my contract? to follow in next month’s post.

Posted in Road to Publication, Submitting For Publication, Writing Conferences, Writing Groups | Leave a comment

Widening the Road to Publication

Hello Children’s Writers and Friends,

It was difficult to write this month’s blog because for the first time in a while I actually have more ideas than posts available. I have things to say that people actually want to hear, so although I know followers would like to know a little more about my exciting news of the last month and my actual journey to publication, I will instead be informing you of some more Australian Children’s Publishers open to submissions. This is peak unsolicited submission season after all, while writers and editors for that matter, are fresh from the Christmas Break. Yes, it wasn’t actually that long ago even though Easter is just around the corner.

Conferences will also begin soon when editors may find authors and works they are interested in. These can then become solicited mss and the ‘slush’ will become deeper and more dense so I would recommend getting your unsolicited mss in now. That is, unless you happen to have secured a consultation or assessment with a publisher during a conference or festival and are waiting to hear what said editor recommends you do to enhance your manuscript’s chances, or better still loves your ms and takes it to an acquisitions meeting. For the rest of us, I’ve listed some interesting new sites on the road to publication. These smaller boutique publishing houses are serving to open up, to widen the road to publication for new and emerging authors. As always read carefully to ensure they are the sort of publishing house you are looking for/willing to work with. Enjoy perusing and good luck with finding a publisher who is the perfect fit for your ms.

Berbay Publishing ( Winner of the Children’s Publisher of the Year Bologna Prize 2017. Publishes poignant and imaginative Picture Books which help shape the way we see the world. (paraphrased from their website. Not accepting submissions at present

Christmas Press ( Open occasionally to unsolicited mss and usually linked to a competition to be part of one of their Anthologies.

Harbour Publishing House ( Open to unsolicited submissions from 1st of February – 31st of October every year for the publishing of digital books only at this stage

Indij Readers ( contact for further details regarding the sharing of traditional and contemporary Indigenous stories with the aim of ‘promoting understanding and concern for all humanity’

Lakewater Press ( publish ebooks and Print on Demand (POD) initially with print runs considered depending on sales figures, which will be achieved through both the House’s and the author’s efforts.

Odyssey Books ( accepting unsolicited mss except PBs and several adult genres which do not fit their ethos. They publish ebooks and POD traditionally ie with no cost to the author, but also offer assistance for authors who wish to self publish.

Hopefully you can find your home with one of these relatively new kids on the block.

It’s worth noting that, Prints Charming Books by Sally Odgers, Zinewest by West Words and Birdcatcher Books edited by Lyn Fowler- run competitions and/or offer publication in Anthologies on a regular basis.

Farewell fellow travellers,

Savour the quest,


PS Update: I have heard and seen online questions being posed about illustrators breaking into publishing and how they can submit their work to publishers. At the recent Cteative Kids Tales Festival I was able to ask Clare Hallifax of Scholastic Australia how she found her illustrators and what was the norm in the industry at present. Her answer follows- Illustrators Website as well as SCBWI and Conferences where there is an opportunity to display your portfolios are the places she looks for her illustrators. As far as she is aware there are very few publishers who request illustrators to submit via their websites and the aforementioned is the norm.

Posted in Publishing Opportunity, Submitting For Publication, Writing Conferences | 2 Comments