Week of August 5, 2012—Odds and Ends
Monday, August 6—Kari-Lynn Winter’s Story
Picture Book Author, Drama Educator, and Researcher
(And my fellow on-line critique group member)
After spending two years writing and editing my first picture book manuscript— Jeffrey’s Wor(l)d Meets Sloth (a hideous title, but at the time I thought it was clever)—I was ready to submit! I researched several publishing companies and decided on a mid-size Canadian publisher, Orca Book Publishers.
In my mind, everything was moving along smoothly: the manuscript was ready, the cover letter was written, the publisher was chosen. The only problem was that I didn’t want my work to simply sit in Orca’s slush pile. So I decided to be strategic. I decided that in addition to submitting my manuscript, I would also pitch the editor — in person! But how?
I started paying attention to upcoming children’s literature conferences, particularly the events where my editor was scheduled to present. Once I found the conference that was right for me, I signed up as a volunteer. Next, I purchased some of the books that she had edited and authored (I figured that each book would give me a few more minutes to chat with her) and I rehearsed my pitch. Then, two months before the conference I submitted the manuscript, guaranteeing that it would be on her desk by the time the conference began. Finally, I asked a friend (who happened to be one of her authors) to interrupt our conversation with unbounded, exuberant praise for my manuscript.
The actual pitch played out like this:
1st—I approached the editor with books for her to sign.
2nd—As she signed I delivered my pitch, trying to sound as though I was delivering it spontaneously (she seemed mildly interested).
3rd—My friend (her author) approached us, introduced us formally, and raved about my manuscript (the editor now seemed genuinely interested).
4th—The editor asked me to send the manuscript to her. I replied with a smile, “It is already on your desk!” (The editor now seemed extremely interested.)
The following Wednesday (just days after the conference), I received a call from my editor. She told me that she loved the manuscript and that she was bringing it to the next acquisitions meeting. The manuscript was officially accepted a few months later. My first submission was a success! I jumped and danced. I remember shaking with excitement when I told my family.
Jeffrey and Sloth, illustrated by Ben Hodson and published by Orca Book Publisher in 2007, was nominated for several prestigious book awards, and recently became a Canadian best-seller.
Note from Rob: Kari-Lynn’s story makes me smile. It shows how each writer can realize his/her publishing dreams in a different way. If you know the charismatic Kari-Lynn, this story is so-o-o her! J