How did CWILL BC members get their first big breaks in the publishing world? In this series of interviews with local writers and illustrators, we ask what advice they would offer and what mistakes they would never repeat — an inside look at the publishing process, from the creators’ point of view. Please feel free to tell us your own publishing tales in the comments section below.
What was your first book?
My first book was Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask, a middle reader book based on my travels. Amanda Ross, an average 12-year-old Canadian girl, has an adventure of a lifetime in the United Arab Emirates. She encounters a beautiful princess, a dangerous desert, and a loyal camel as she discovers the secrets of the perfume flask.
How did you find your publisher/agent?
I spent five years looking for a publisher for my first book and eventually found one right here in Ladner! An older gentleman called me three years ago to ask about a writing group I belonged to. In the course of the conversation, he mentioned his daughter had started an e-publishing company. I suggested he invite her to be a guest speaker at our next meeting. Michelle Halket, of ireadiwrite Publishing (now Central Avenue Publishing) explained e-publishing to the group and asked me more about my book. She offered to e-publish it and later, as her business expanded, print published it. She also published my next two books. I consider the day I met Michelle one of the luckiest days of my life. She is wonderful to work with, designs amazing covers for my books and is a true professional.
How did you handle early rejections?
I think I handled the early rejections quite well, possibly because many were kind rejections and perhaps because I was prepared for rejections at first. Every time I got a rejection, I reviewed and polished the story. I considered it part of the probationary period. One of the first rejection letters I received was from Maggie De Vries who was the editor of Orca books at the time. It was a form letter but she made a note in her own handwriting suggesting that I continue to send the story out as it had merit. That was so encouraging, I will never forget it.
What advice would you give an emerging writer/illustrator?
The advice I would give to an emerging writer/illustrator is to not give up and not be afraid to try something new or different. I am so glad I made the decision to have my book e-published initially. I hadn’t even heard of e-publishing before I met Michelle, it was quite new at the time. But I decided, why not give it a try. I now sell 50% of my books as e-books.
What project are you most excited about now?
I just finished book number three in the series, Amanda in England: The Missing Novel, and have started on book number four, Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone. Every time Amanda goes on a new adventure I get more excited. I am having a lot of fun writing these books and have developed quite a following. Kids often come up to me and ask, “Where is Amanda going next?” I always have to be thinking a couple of books ahead.