Taking the Publishing Plunge with Joan Betty Stuchner

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 your own publishing tales in the comments section below.

Joan Betty Stuchner

What was your first published work?
My first book was an Annikins. It was called A Peanut Butter Waltz and it was beautifully illustrated by Diana Durrand.

Did you have mentors to help with the publishing process?
I can’t say I had any mentors. I sent out about two or three manuscripts every week for a couple of years. I’d go to the library or Vancouver Kidsbooks and see who was publishing what. Then I’d see which of my stories fit which publisher. Annick finally accepted that one story.

How did you handle early rejections?
I handled early rejections first by crying bitter tears, and then drying my tears and getting back on the typewriter. ‘Never give up,’ I would say to myself. I don’t cry so much these days, but my heart still gets heavy. It’s the same feeling you get when your boyfriend breaks up with you. ‘I don’t understand. What’s not to love?’ Nowadays, instead of the typewriter I get back on the computer.

Do you write with trends or markets in mind?
I don’t think about trends or marketing. I get an idea, start writing and see where it goes. I never think, ‘Will this be a boy book or a girl book? Will this appeal to reluctant readers?’ I write a story for me and I hope that others will want to read it too. Boys, girls, grandparents and nannies. Stories are for sharing.

What new project are you most excited about?
As usual I’m working on a few projects. It’s just my chaotic nature. I’m excited about all of them, but there are two short historical novels that I’ve been working on for ages — trying to get just right. One is about smugglers and one is about a highwayman AND a little bit about smuggling. Sometimes when I’m working on one of them I get a little thrill, as if I’m reading a new and exciting book written by someone else, and I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I think that’s a good sign.

To learn more about Joan and her work, please visit her blog.
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