Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Path to Publication

Before I received my first publishing contract I used to google stories about authors’ paths to publication.  I found it very motivating to read success stories, so, now I have my own contract, I would like to share my story.

I always wanted to be an author, but for some reason--I don't know why--I never thought I could do it.  I studied primary school teaching--which I loved.  I wrote little rhymes and stories to use in my own classroom, but didn’t do much towards becoming a writer until I had three children and was on parental leave from my teaching job.

At age 38, I signed up for an online picture book writing course and googled everything I could find on how to write picture books.  A lot of what I read was quite disheartening as it seemed many people attempted to become published without success.  I decided to focus on the fact that SOME do get published and I was going to be one of them.  I was NOT going to give up!

I started sending out manuscripts and receiving rejections, but then one day I received an email from EK Books publisher, Anouska Jones.  She had read my manuscript and loved it!!!!  I could barely breathe for excitement and called my best friend before I even finished reading the email!

Then came the waiting…My manuscript had to pass through a few meetings before I would get a contract.  It got the thumbs up at the first and I was thrilled…then more waiting.  I was creatively frozen with the excitement and I couldn’t write anything new.  I just waited and day-dreamed about being published and celebrating my book launch. J

I then received a lovely, very kind, phone call to let me know that my manuscript was not chosen.  I was standing outside the school gates with my toddler.  When I hung up I cried ... then I realised that this was still great.  I could now directly send manuscripts to a publisher and I had the validation that my writing was good.  I had been unfrozen.  I set off to write a better manuscript…and I did!

My next manuscript started going through the meetings and I was waiting again--I became very good at waiting.  But this time I was not frozen.  While I waited I kept writing and the ideas kept coming.  I got a great idea!  I don’t remember where I was or how I got it.  It was for a book about shapes.  I then did something I had read many times NOT to do—I wrote it in rhyme!  Then I committed another no-no—I made a dummy and illustrated it myself!  I asked if it was ok to send this rhyming dummy and then I crossed my fingers and posted it.

Anouska (EK Books) loved it and took it to a meeting.  It was this rhyming dummy that eventually got me over the line. Eight months later I received a contract!!!!  Woo Hoo!! And even better I was asked to illustrate it too!!!!

So here I am now, 40 years old, with a contract in my pocket and a pencil in my hand, illustrating my first picture book!


So my advice to aspiring authors is GO FOR IT! Never give up, keep learning and treat each rejection as a step closer. And develop your ability to be patient!  Good Luck!


  1. Fabulous post Sally. I love reading these stories. It is possible!!! Congratulations - I can't wait to walk in to my local bookshop and buy a copy x

  2. Congratulations! A very inspiring story, Thanks for sharing!

  3. Oh that is such fantastic news!!!! I am thrilled for you- well done:) Congratulations!!!!! I am jumping up and down. Yay!!!
    I am not giving up either:) x x

  4. Sally you must be so excited about your wonderful achievement! A dream come true for you. Your journey is inspirational thank you for sharing it. Congratulations! X

  5. Thanks for sharing Sally. What a timely post, just when I thought maybe I should give it all away, you have inspired me and I am back at my computer, editing, editing and more editing. Congratulations!!

    1. Hi Heidi, thank you, and good luck for you in your writing.

  6. What a timely post. Congratulations!
    You truly are an inspiration and encouragement not to give up.
    Looking forward to buying your finished product, and reading it to my grandchildren.

    1. Your story is very inspiring. And I really brainstormed a plot instantly!

      But I would like to know if the writing course you take worths the time and money. What do you think the most crucial to get your first book published?

      Thanks a lot!

    2. Hi Michelle, Thank you for your comment. I do think the course I did was worthwhile. You may find it more beneficial to spend the money on manuscript assessments. You would have to look at the course outline and decide what you think will benefit your writing the most. You need to consider that it is a VERY subjective industry and one person may love your manuscript and another may not like it at all. So I think the most crucial thing is to be persistent and keep submitting your best work. I think timing is very important too, but that is where luck comes into it. Make sure your submissions are perfect in terms of grammar and spelling and following submission guidelines.