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!