It’s been two months since negotiating terms, signing contracts, and doing the happy barefoot dance of ecstatic joy around the yard thanks to an offer from Lerner to write three more books for their Country Explorer series, so I figured I’d talk a little about my journey into publishing and where I am now.
Disclaimer: I’d been writing my whole life (for fun) and thinking about getting serious for ten years (SCBWI member since 2010- woo!), and the journey hasn’t been linear –it’s been a complicated, big-hearted punch in the guts followed by an ice-water plunge shock of experiencing some success.
Encouraging caveat: It took one month of serious head-down, focused work before I was offered my first publishing contract. Even though every single piece of writing advice (in craft books, on the internet, from SCBWI gurus who I love and respect…) says “treat this like a job, take your writing seriously if you want serious results,” the truth is, I toyed and played for a decade, splashing in the kiddie pool when I should have been showing up for 6AM practice, swimming laps, putting in the workout time.
Thankfully, I finally woke up and got the message: get serious.
Also thankfully, the stars aligned to bring the knowledge I was finally ready to receive. This was the knowledge of writing for the educational market. I had small pieces published in magazines, on websites, and in trade journals (the all-important “clips”). But clips aren’t books. I wanted to write books and my pitches were going into the void. Educational publishing was a way to write books and learn (seriously learn with seriousness) the trade in addition to the craft. I bought a copy of Laura Purdie Salas’ Writing for the Educational Market and followed it like a manifesto-bible-manual-horoscope.
And when I say “the stars aligned,” I mean one day I quit a job that was wearing down my ability to write at all (or enjoy life at all!)- the day I quit that job, I was offered a contract to write two books for an educational publisher I’ve always admired and wanted to write for.
I had two months off of work between jobs (career-type jobs, what I call “my day job”), and I wrote like a FIEND. I researched the two books, I studied SCBWI materials like it was graduate school, I wrote manuscripts and revised them 10-15 times over. I pitched, I queried, I submitted.
And one was accepted.
It was a contract for my first trade picture book! I’m not even going to try to describe the experience of that offer, except to say that it was so exciting it caused a two-day migraine (Ooooo the double bladed sword of joy!) but I didn’t even mind because my 10+ year goal of “be a published author of books” was breaking through from post-it-note-on-the-wall to real life.
And then the offer came to write three more books for the educational series. Six books in six months, from pre-published one year, to published author of books the next. Everyone’s journey is different. In sharing this particular journey, I hope one thing sticks out as important: If you want serious results, take your writing –and yourself—seriously.
If you want to talk more about the journey to publication, achieving goals, or making big changes for the better, friend me up on the socials!