Journeygirl’s Road to Publication- Part Two

Hello fellow Children’s Writers and Friends,

Oh how time flies. I do apologise that this post is late, however, my reason does fit in perfectly with the one of the subjects of this post. I have been focussed on preparations for the KidLitVic Conference at the end of this week, both for myself and my adult children who will be staying home while husband, Daryl and I have an extended stay in Victoria. (Photos and report of Conference to follow.)

As promised today’s post continues the story of my journey to publication of my first Picture Book, The Sorrowful Star (working title) answering the final two questions posed last month. What is the importance of Networking? and What’s been happening since I signed my contract?

What is the importance of Networking?

If you are an aspiring or emerging author like me, I cannot state highly enough the importance of networking. I think my story and the way time brought Kathy Creamer back into my life in a different role, depicts clearly how networking can help an author. In a lot of ways it was pure serendipity, however, had I not first found Creative Kids Tales (via internet search- writing for children in Australia, I had previously found many US sites) and put myself and my story out there seeking assistance to polish it, I probably would have remained nothing more than a name to Kathy Creamer and LPDB. This way she knew me a little and more importantly my work.

The benefits of networking do not end there for me (or you) by any means. As a result of those early days of learning about the Australian Children’s Writing industry, I discovered the world of Aussie KidLit and its people, places and events. I found the So You Want to Be a Writer Podcast, Q and Q Friday’s on You Tube which led to The Duck Pond on Facebook. I signed up to The Scribbles Course and private Facebook group and through them was invited to join, Just Write For Kids, The 52 Week Picture Book Challenge and Aussies Writing for Children. I heard of events at the CBCA, Sydney Writer’s Festival, SCBWI, Pinerolo, the list goes on. This followed hearing of The Kids and Young Adults Festival at The New South Wales Writers’ Centre and CYA Conference and their competition again through Creative Kids Tales so ably run by Georgie Donaghey.

It was at these that I heard about BuzzWords and Pass it On, also where I met Aleesah Darlison who now runs Greenleaf Press and I could go on and on, in never ending increasing circles because the industry is actually quite small and soon you get to know many members, who know other members, who may be authors, illustrators, editors, or know editors or…. you get the picture. In some ways the road is endless, but because it is full of intersecting streets, lanes, arcades and other lovely nooks and crannies, you never know who will pop up where and when, and what they may say about you to someone else.

This brings me to an important point, when dealing with anyone in this industry (or out of it really) certainly be yourself, but be your best self. Be polite, thoughtful, treat people kindly and understand we all have good and bad days so try not to be judgemental, and forgive, most especially yourself. We writers tend to be toughest on ourselves. Try not to, but if you find you are, be sure to mention it to another KidLit writer and I can guarantee these wonderful people will sympathise with you and help you see it from a different, more positive perspective.

So on a different note, What’s been happening since I signed my contract?

Well life mainly. Work, family, tutoring, assisting at church, writing, same ol’ same ol’. However, occasionally the delightful little orange Favourites star pops up in my emails and I see the names Little Pink Dog Books or Peter Creamer or Margaret Dewar (my illustrator). You can bet I don’t waste time opening those. So far, they have pretty much involved a discussion of what will be required of Margaret and I. In my case, this is mainly providing a photo or two, which I’m having professionally done soon, and (lucky for me, as I know this isn’t always the case) providing my input on Margaret’s proposed illustrations. I dare say, it won’t be for all of them.

In Margaret’s case there is a lot more required including tweaking or completely changing a character or scene based on what Peter, Kathy and yes, even little old me sometimes, have to say. Margaret, clearly a very talented illustrator, always rises to the challenge and I cannot wait till October next year (all going well) when I know I’ll be sharing something truly magical and beautiful with you all.

Farewell fellow travellers, but hopefully not for long,

Savour the quest,

Journeygirl

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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 http://www.westwords.com.au ) 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 (creativekidstales.com.au) 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 (www.littlepinkdogbooks.com)  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 author, 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!

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

Savouring the quest,

Farewell fellow travellers

Journeygirl

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

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