Monday, 18 February 2019

My Quest for a Contract • Lynne Garner

My first picture book
My first picture book was published way back in 2007. I was lucky, it was my second submission to a picture book publisher. My first submission was rejected but the rejection letter they sent was the nicest I’ve received in the twenty odd years I’ve been writing. Although the editor didn’t like my story, she liked my writing style and ‘voice’ and asked if I had any other stories. I didn’t but I had an idea I’d been working on. After tweaking, adjusting and tinkering with it I sent it off. A few weeks later I received further positive feedback and although I had to rewrite the story six times ‘A Book for Bramble’ was eventually published.

Over the next few years the same publisher took a further three stories. During that period my editor moved on and the publisher was sold and purchased several times. This meant I no longer had direct access and have re-joined the thousands of picture book writers fighting for attention in a very competitive market. For a couple of years, I sent out the odd story here and there whilst I concentrated on my collection of short stories. But last year I decided it was going to be ‘my’ year and I was going to get a picture book contract. My plan had two parts to it.

My second picture book

Part one:
I decided I’d invest in my writing. I chose my five favourite stories and sent them to the Hilary Johnson Authors’ Advisory Service. Each story was reviewed and sent back with positive feedback and helpful advice. I reworked three of the stories and sent them back for a second review. A further tweak here and there and I had three stories that were the best I could possibly make them. Then came the research and submitting process and over a 12-month period each story was sent out to at least 13 publishers. 

Part two:
Whilst I waited (and there is a lot of waiting - often months), I researched agents and submitted to 11 agents. 

Sadly, all that work, and finger crossing came to nothing. I either didn't receive a response (not unusual) or received the 'thanks but no thanks' rejection.

My last picture book but first collaboration
At the beginning of this year I began to wonder if I should forget it. Perhaps I’d had my time. Maybe my best is no longer good enough. However, I love writing picture books. I have a library of stories that with a little help I could improve. I have a stock of ideas screaming to be written down. So, I’ve decided I’m going to give it another go and repeat the process. With fingers crossed I have a little more luck this year.

Picture book writers - I’d like to know your experiences. Is it me or is it that much harder than it was a decade or so ago?  

Writing this post and pressing publish must have woken up my muse. 5am this morning I woke up with an almost entire picture book story buzzing around my head. I've not written anything new for a few months, so I'm hoping this is a good sign and 2019 will be 'my' year to complete my quest and get the contract. 



Andrea Mack said...

Fingers crossed for you, Lynne! I'd love to get a picture book contract this year too, but in the meantime, I'm sure enjoying the process of trying!

Lauri Fortino said...

I can certainly relate. I published my first and so far only picture book three years ago and have struggled to get anything else published since. This is one tough business. Best of luck to you on your journey.