Rashmi Sirdeshpande, Picture Book Writer-in-Residence 2022 for the WriteMentor Hub, shares 6 things she didn’t know about being a picture book author.
1. There’s so much WAITING.
Waiting to hear back from editors if you’re on submission (and sometimes there’s no closure, just ENDLESS SILENCE). Waiting to get to an acquisitions meeting. Waiting to hear what happened in acquisitions. Waiting for edits. Waiting to be paired with an illustrator. Waiting for a slot in their diary. Waiting to be allowed to talk about your book! Waiting to reveal the cover. Waiting to be published. Waiting for reviews. SO. MUCH. WAITING.
2. The speed can crank up quite suddenly.
There’s this joke that publishing has two speeds. One is super slow and the other is ‘AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA’. And it’s an unspoken publishing rule that if you’re waiting on multiple things for multiple books, they will land on your desk all at once. But you won’t know when that’ll be.
3. There is a lot of ‘NOT-writing’.
Eventing is a big part of my life and that includes everything from school events and festivals to panels and writing workshops. There’s promo too – blogging, building momentum and boosting bits of good news on social media. And ADMIN – don’t you just LOVE admin? – scheduling, invoicing, accounts. In terms of events/promo, you can do as much or as little as you’d like (everyone’s situation is different) but I’ve leaned into it and as a result, I haven’t been able to write for months. So I’m finding a new balance.
4. It’s about finding the right home for your book.
I used to think it was all about being published. Now I see that the key is finding a publishing home for a certain strand of book. When I write a new thing, I know this feels like a book for X or Y and I know they’ll be the first to see it. It’s a beautiful place to be when you can call a publisher ‘home’. It feels more like a secure, long-term creative partnership and it’s my wish for every picture book author. *Wipes away a tear*
5. The TEAM is everything.
It takes a village to make a book (and I’m going to introduce you to some key players in that village in a later post!). I knew this in theory pre-publication. But the feeling I have now is so strong. I love each and every illustrator I’ve been paired with AND every editor, art director, and PR manager too. Big squeezy hugs all round. Also got a lot of love for sales and rights and marketing and PRODUCTION – the next time you stroke a picture book (what, you don’t do this??), think of production!
6. It’s a long game.
Picture books don’t have to make a splash on launch. Some books will but you can totally build your rep over time and grow a strong base of happy readers who shout about your stories to anyone who will listen. And they might be all over the world (rights deals are a HUGE deal). Play the long game. Centre the reader, build good relationships, keep writing. It’s all we can do.
Want to learn more from Rashmi?
Rashmi is 2022 Picture Book Writer-in-Residence for the Hub, WriteMentor’s community learning platform that connects like-minded storytellers and provides all the tools they need for writing success.
Find out how you can access member-exclusive content delivered by industry experts like Rashmi.