On Picture Book Mastery: an Interview with Rosie J. Pova
by Writing Workshops Staff
3 months ago
Meet Rosie J. Pova, a distinguished children's author and dedicated writing instructor with an extraordinary passion for nurturing the creative potential within others.
Originally from Bulgaria, Rosie now calls Texas home, where she resides with her family. Her journey in the world of children's literature has been nothing short of remarkable, as her books have graced the pages of national publications such as The New York Times and Parents magazine.
Rosie's latest release, The School of Failure: A Story about Success, has garnered acclaim from educators, parents, and critics alike. But Rosie's impact goes far beyond her own publications; she is on a mission to empower aspiring authors of all ages.
Whether through engaging author visits at schools across the United States or providing personalized mentorship to unpublished writers, Rosie aims to cultivate confidence and creativity in every individual she encounters. If you've ever felt overwhelmed, confused, or deflated on your journey as a children's writer, Rosie's 10-Week Picture Book Mastery Workshop might just be the game-changer you need. This transformative course will guide you from the depths of uncertainty to the pinnacle of confidence, helping you navigate the intricacies of the publishing world and, most importantly, believe in the power of your own storytelling.
Rosie's course is designed to take you on a three-part journey of self-discovery and skill development.
In Part 1, you'll hone your craft and learn how to revise like a pro, ensuring your work stands out in a crowded literary landscape.
Part 2 equips you with the tools to prepare a professional submission package, complete with invaluable insights on avoiding common pitfalls.
Finally, in Part 3, Rosie will demystify the business side of publishing, giving you the knowledge and confidence to take your children's book project to the next level.
As one student put it, "I am learning so much in your class. I have learned more with you in the past two weeks than I did as a member of a regional children's book group for two years!" The testimonials speak for themselves, as Rosie's guidance has propelled countless writers toward their authorial dreams.
WW: Many aspiring authors feel overwhelmed when navigating the world of publishing. How does your course help to simplify and demystify this process?
RJP: You’re right, navigating the publishing business could be quite confusing and overwhelming, even for those who’ve tried to get published for a while, but especially so for aspiring authors who are just starting out.
My course simplifies this process by providing a system on mastering the craft of writing picture books, and it takes writers through a step-by-step process from coming up with strong, marketable ideas, to writing their stories, all the way to preparing professional submission packages, getting them ready to send their work out to literary agents and/or publishers.
WW: Rejection can be disheartening for many writers. Having faced rejection and achieved success yourself, how does your personal experience guide and support students in your workshop?
When I first set out to create the course, I looked back at the beginning of my own journey and considered all the mistakes that I’d made that could’ve been avoided as well as all the insight I wish I’d known when I first started that would’ve helped me speed up the process to publication and spared me a ton of struggles and disappointments, so with that in mind, I created the modules for the course and inserted my knowledge that I wanted to pass along to aspiring authors. In addition, while I constantly update the course with new material as I continue to grow and learn myself, I’ve included many videos to support the different modules where I further explain what worked on my journey, dispel some myths, offer a different prospective from what’s usually assumed to be true, and also dig deeper into the elements of writing a successful picture book story for today’s market.
WW: Sunday Rain and The School of Failure: A Story about Success are two of your renowned books. How have the lessons and insights from these books been integrated into the curriculum of your course?
RJP: I’ve learned a lot throughout the publishing process and through working with my respective publishers on these two books as well as through the marketing journey. There were surprises along the way, some challenges, and also invaluable lessons that were very helpful to me going forward. All of these insights are integrated into the course curriculum with every module as I’ve drawn from my very own experience of writing and publishing successful books.
But not just that. If something worked for me—even before these books were acquired—and I believe it’s also likely to work for other writers too, I’ve included it in the course. For example, in the “Write a Query Letter” module I’ve shared my own query for Sunday Rain that I used when I was submitting the story and that got me a publishing contract.
WW: For many, the business side of publishing can be intimidating. How does module 10 prepare writers to approach this with confidence and knowledge?
RJP: In module 10, writers will get an understanding of the publishing route they’d like to take depending on their own vision, goals, and desires, so then from there, they’d be able to come up with a plan of action to execute on, instead of being stuck in doubt or intimidation. Once they understand the choices in front of them—whether that’s seeking representation by a literary agent, submitting directly to publishers, or both—along with knowing what’s involved, and what comes next, they’ll be able to move forward in confidence and clarity.
WW: The course promises to take writers from idea to submission in just 10 weeks. What critical habits or mindsets do you believe aspiring authors should adopt during this short time frame?
RJP: This is a great question since a huge part of finding success in this business is due to the ability to adopt a mindset that works in one’s favor—getting rid of analysis paralysis, self-sabotage, procrastination, and perfectionism, among other adverse habits.
My goal with the course is to help writers stay consistent, be solution-oriented, pivot to a different perspective in the face of rejection and challenges, and also trust in the process, be open to growth, and have a clear vision to advance toward.
In addition, since confidence comes from both small and big wins along the way, it’s important to gradually build that. Having clarity, focus, and guidance as well as tools to apply to their writing helps the students get tangible results as they develop their stories, query letters, and submission packages, which in turn motivates them and keeps them excited.
Finally, I know that getting support as early as possible is crucial. It’s quite difficult to try and gather all the information on your own by scouring the internet for hours, days, or months even, so having a system, resources, and guidance in the process makes a huge difference in my opinion. It certainly has for many of my clients and mentees who have found publishing success and continue to grow and accomplish amazing results!
WW: In the course, you touch upon preparing a professional submission package. Can you share one common mistake you've seen authors make in this area and how your course addresses it?
RJP: A lot of writers are unfamiliar with what a professional submission package looks like and that can easily stop them from sending their work out. Or, on the flip side, often times they would put together an inferior submission that actually hurts their chances of grabbing the attention of a publishing professional.
One common mistake is that writers don’t adhere to the industry standard of writing a query letter. That’s due to either a lack of knowledge—in which case they start guessing what it must look like and decide to “wing it”—or they simply rush through writing one because they don’t understand the importance of a great query letter.
As I mentioned above, my course offers an entire module dedicated to query letters that includes my own example of a successful query letter. In addition, there’s a downloadable PDF with a submission package template that writers can use to just fill in the blanks and generate their entire proposal.
WW: You mention helping authors overcome the doubt of whether their story is "good enough." Can you share a personal anecdote where you overcame such doubts and how it has shaped your teaching approach?
RJP: Yes, absolutely. When I first wrote Sunday Rain, I had a specific publisher in mind that I thought was a great match for the story. This also happened around a particular submission opportunity to send them a manuscript, and I was very excited to share this project with them. Unfortunately, they rejected the story. At the time, the general opinion in kidlit was that “quiet books” are hard to sell, and my new story was a quiet one. But I believed in the story, I could see it had merit, and I knew there was a publishing home for it out there. So, I decided to follow my gut, and I sent it out to a handful of other publishing houses. Shortly after, one of them loved the story and offered me a publishing contract!
The way I approach my teaching in that regard is to highlight the importance of the craft, regardless of the type of story being written, and also to provide the tools and techniques to make it strong, “sellable,” and “marketable.” Learning how to be objective in evaluating ideas and your manuscript is an invaluable skill that would move a writer’s career to the next level.
WW: With the myriad of writing courses available, what sets "Writing Picture Books: From Idea to Submission" apart from the rest?
RJP: What sets this course apart from other classes and courses out there is that it’s a comprehensive course that incorporates all three major elements that are needed to succeed: mindset, craft mastery, and business knowledge. It starts at the very beginning—the story idea (whether people are just starting out or have been writing for a while)—and takes them through the entire writing and revising process all the way to submission-ready manuscripts, preparing a submission packages, and a clear plan of action towards their publishing goals. It equips writers with practical tools and techniques, resources, and offers step-by-step guidance through a proven system. I wish I had that course in my early writing years when I was struggling with figuring out the craft and business of picture book writing and publishing.
WW: Can you describe a breakthrough moment a past student experienced during your course that encapsulates the transformation you aim to achieve for all participants?
RJP: Yes, so many! The course has helped both intermediate-level and brand-new aspiring authors.
Several students who were beginners have created a body of work, submission packages, and were able to go out on submission in a very short time. As a result, they have found publishing success. For example, Gail had a children’s story accepted for publication in Highlights magazine, Rose signed with an agent (with more exciting news on the way!), Blair secured a book contract and signed with a top agent, Kasey got a book contract, Becky got a request for more work from an agent… The list goes on and on.
WW: Finally, what is the most important piece of advice or insight you hope students take away from your 10-week workshop?
I hope that students will take away the understanding that being an author, like any other skill or profession, requires training, practice, commitment, and investing in yourself in order to make it as a career author, but that doesn't mean going through unnecessary struggles or trying to figure it all out on your own. I learned the hard way, made all the mistakes, and went through painful disappointments, partly because I thought I’d manage to do it alone. Now, my goal with this course and other programs I offer is to show writers a faster, much more effective way of becoming a successful and profitable picture book author.
You can learn more about Rosie's 10-Week Picture Book Mastery Workshop and enroll if you're interested. If you're ready to commit to your author success, join Rosie J. Pova on this transformative journey and unlock the true potential of your children's book writing career.
Instructor Rosie J. Pova is a multi-published, award-winning children's author and kidlit Writing Coach. She's the creator of Picture Book Mastery System that helps emerging children's writers advance their career and get closer to their publishing goals. Rosie's picture book, Sunday Rain, was featured in The New York Times and recommended by Parents magazine. Her latest picture book, The School of Failure: A Story About Success was released in the spring of 2022 in both China and the USA. Rosie loves to visit schools and her interactive workshops empower students to unleash their creativity and grow in confidence through reading, writing, and creating. Teachers and librarians love Rosie for her bubbly, upbeat personality which captures students' attention, encourages them to think creatively, and motivates them to pursue big dreams.