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.
What was your first book?
My only published book at the moment is No More Dragons, a novel for young people. I have a second book scheduled to be published by the same press, and several more in the works!
Did you have a mentor in the publishing world, or did you do it all on your own?
Definitely no mentor.
How did you find your publisher/agent?
I do not have an agent. I sent my manuscript to a number of publishers (not simultaneously) and one day I got an email. I nearly fell off my chair. In fact, I scared my husband with my squeal of delight.
How did you handle early rejections?
Poorly. I remember my first. In my accompanying letter to the publisher I referred to a book, similar to my own, that they had previously published. In their rejection letter they said that the book was not one of theirs. I was so embarrassed I threw the letter away wondering how I could have made such a terrible mistake. A year later I discovered that in fact they had published that book and I was correct.
Most rejections are hard. But it is part of the process. Recently I received one that contained positive criticism. Despite the rejection that was wonderful.
The message from all of this is to believe in yourself.
Do you think about trends/marketing when you’re developing a project?
No, I don’t. I usually have a number of ideas simmering in my head and I just write the novel that insists on being written at that moment.
What advice would you give an emerging writer/illustrator?
Do it. It won’t be necessarily easy but, regardless, do it.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned since publishing your first book?
I have learned that some people do not follow the “no simultaneous submissions” rule which I have followed scrupulously. While I can understand why the rule is there, it is frustrating to find that some do not follow it because it can mean an awfully long waiting period if you have to send your manuscript to a number of publishers before it is accepted.
What project are you most excited about now?
I am always most excited about whatever project I am working on. At the moment, that means the third part of a trilogy. I wrote the first two parts a few years back and swore I would not write the third until the first two were published. But somehow it wanted to be written so now it is.