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The Path to Publication is No Joke by Blair Williamson

by Writing Workshops Staff

2 years ago

by Writing Workshops Staff

2 years ago

During covid, I was furloughed from my job and found myself with so much drive and passion to focus on a life goal of mine to write children's picture books. I had time, I had the creativity, I had the inspiration. I wrote six picture book manuscripts while a student of Rosie J. Pova.
I was very busy all year and into the Summer, and here we are in October. The excitement of ups and downs during this process has been nutty, to say the least.
A little background and timeline of what has happened: I received my first "Offer to Publish" from an international publisher on my Parrot picture book manuscript on June 17. I was so excited I couldn't even stand it. The next offer came on June 23 on my Turtles picture book manuscript manuscript. The next was a second offer on the Turtles manuscript, with an additional offer to publish a story on Taste Buds on July 26th from another international publisher. I also had an R&R request from another publisher on the Taste Buds story on July 6th.
As someone completely new to the industry, I found myself wondering what the heck do I do. I wanted to jump in right away! I thought, gosh, people want to publish my stories! where do I sign!? 
But, I needed to take a minute, a step back, and really make good decisions as this is not something to take lightly and will involve years of work. And, not to mention, MY NAME on a product potentially on bookshelves all over the world. I needed to make sure I do this the right way instead of the fast way.
So, I used the network I started building in the publishing industry, asked opinions, and ultimately ended up hiring a literary attorney to review the contracts. Most were considered "hybrid" offers where the publisher wants to share the cost with the author. I am not ready to go that route yet, as I know my stories are unique, marketable, and relevant to parenting in today's society. Some publishers were willing to negotiate, others were not.
I knew I needed an agent. How do I get an agent? I have tried to stay off of Twitter as much as possible because it really did seem like every time I logged on, another author was celebrating getting represented! I celebrated with them and was happy for them, but I couldn't hide my feelings of frustration. Twitter is a great resource for connecting writers with other authors, finding out about writing events, getting great access to editors, and manuscript wish lists, but... it's also incredibly overwhelming.
I kept my head down, reached out to every single lead in my network to ask as many questions as I needed to feel comfortable with my next step. I have found that most people are willing and eager to help if they can!
Don't be afraid to ask for help. After a few "almost" discussions with multiple agents, I finally found one who fell in love with all six of my manuscripts and wanted to work with me. My stories are out on submission and the wait continues. It's painful for me, but, I'm positive something will happen and am working very hard behind the scenes to set myself and the publisher up for as much success as possible.
Do I want my books published?! yes. But, I need to be patient and wait for the right deal to come along. I am not really a patient person. I don't like sitting and waiting. So, some of the work I am doing is drumming up pre-publication endorsements for my manuscripts. I've received some pretty big endorsements for my Turtles manuscript from Plastic Ocean Project, Animal Ocean, and Global Expeditions Group, to name a few, which is very exciting. I am also working on my marketing plan to give to a publisher who requests one from me. I'm ready to make the jump and do the work, I just need to find that publisher who wants to publish my stories! 
In the meantime, here is a list of helpful resources for you that I found in my journey in case you find yourself in my position needing good, honest people's advice and help to review publishing contracts, agent contracts, or need to get a literary lawyer involved to help with negotiations, here are the BEST OF SUMMER 2021 (in my honest opinion) because, guess what, I've had to use them all.

In no particular order... 

The best mentor/writing coach: Rosie J. Pova
Rosie J. Pova is very professional, to the point, incredibly knowledgeable about the industry, and will pour energy into her students. She is well connected and offers honest feedback. She offers classes online with Writing Workshops of Dallas and also one-on-one mentorships. You can't go wrong working with Rosie! 

The best publisher offering great advice: Eric with 5310 Publishing 
You can find Eric on Twitter @eric5310pub He offers an amazing amount of helpful information to authors when it comes to contracts. He will review a publishing contract or an agent contract and offer advice for what is the "norm" in the industry. He posts about things to look for, average royalty rates, copyright, insurances, morality clauses, etc., things that maybe you might not know to look for. I had no idea about any of this. He is a wealth of knowledge. 

The best picture book course: Writing Picture Books from Creation to Publication with Rosie Pova and
If you feel like you have a story inside of your head and you don't know the first thing about writing a picture book or how to get it on paper, this course will help you do it. It gives you the foundation and tools you need. I was lucky enough to take this course back in January and absolutely loved it. I enjoyed working with my critique group and watching others' stories transform from ideas into polished manuscripts.

That's all for now. Stay tuned for some more updates on all things publishing and updates on my endeavors coming soon.
You can find author Blair Williamson on her website, Twitter or on Instagram.

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