Trying To Get a Book Published Is Not So Easy...

Monday, October 28, 2019
Last week, I announced that I would have a new picture book out titled, Listen, Lucy! Listen! A Red Ribbon Week Adventure, and I do! I did it! I got the book out before a lot of schools are celebrating Red Ribbon Week and before the National Family Partnership's Red Ribbon Week dates of October 23 to October 31, 2019. I am thrilled.

But getting to this point was not easy. I share this story with you today for a couple reasons:

1. Maybe your own road to publication is not going as smoothly as you hoped, and you are feeling stuck with limited options.

2. My story is not atypical for any creative area--whether you write novels, paint landscapes, photograph family portraits, or create Christmas wreaths. Being creative, producing your work, and selling it is not for the faint of heart--but it is possible. "Where there's a will, there's a way."

I wrote this picture book over fifteen years ago when a friend of mine told me she was having trouble finding a good Red Ribbon Week book to share with her students. She said there are a lot of books--nonfiction--that talk about saying NO to drugs, but not many with a story that is also entertaining. So I wrote this manuscript; and of course, I revised and revised and tinkered and debated and all the things that picture book writers do.

Then I found a publisher. It was a small, regional publisher who was getting into picture books, and she had high hopes for a series of Lucy books, and so did I! She found an illustrator who worked in water color. We signed a contract for royalties, and I was even assigned an editor. The artist finished her illustrations, and there were a few back and forths about the cover and a couple of the illustrations, and then...NOTHING. I mean NOTHING.

Eventually, I discovered that the publisher suffered from some family problems and physical ailments and went out of business or at least stopped publishing anything new, and I gave up on Lucy. Until...everyone started self-publishing their books and doing well. It's very hard for a picture book author to self-publish because you have to find an illustrator, and your book price is hard to set as inexpensive if you print them in color because that is not cheap. But the brain wheels started turning and turning and turning, and finally, I contacted the illustrator and asked if she had the originals.

That was about two years ago, and I did nothing until the spring of this year. I realized that I had the capability to create a PDF of this book--but then I was still stalling. I had a form of writer's block until I began listening to podcasts on book marketing. One point the podcasters talk a lot about is giving something away for free when someone signs up for your email list. Before this picture ebook, I had designed a practical parenting worksheet for email newsletter subscribers, but I wanted to give something more. The lightbulb went off, and I decided my free gift would be Listen, Lucy! Listen!

Once I decided I would give this book away for free and use it as a marketing tool, the design took off, and I finished it up in a few weeks with my critique group looking over it to make sure it was done well. And then I emailed the illustrator to tell her I had finally decided what to do with Lucy and that she could use it to giveaway, too, and...

no email back.

I started to worry, and so I turned to Google, and sure enough, Pam Withroder, my illustrator, had died last year. Ugh. She never got to see the finished product, and I know that she had poured her heart and soul into those illustrations, so I was very sad that I had waited so long to finish it, and she never saw it.

But now it's done. And a lot of teachers have already downloaded it to use it, and I'm super excited that I finished a project and published it in spite of all the difficulties Lucy's story had getting out into the world.

If you're interested in reading Listen, Lucy! Listen! or you know a teacher or parent with preschoolers to second graders, then please click this link or pass the link on. (Scroll to the middle of the page, and you'll see the newsletter sign up and information about Lucy!) To receive the book for free, all it takes is an email address.

And to the authors and illustrators out there, to get your book into the world, it takes grit and determination--but you can do it!

About Listen, Lucy! Listen: A Red Ribbon Week Adventure:  It’s Red Ribbon Week, and Lucy is ready to learn about being drug free. But there’s one problem. Lucy always forgets to listen. She tries to listen to what her teacher Mr. Grant says, but she gets distracted by polar bears and police dogs. The whole week is a total disaster for Lucy, and she has to figure out the secret of listening. Will Lucy discover how to be a good member of her classroom in time to celebrate being drug free? Join Lucy, Mr. Grant, and her classmates for a Red Ribbon Week adventure! Click here to enter an email address and receive your book for free.

About Margo L. Dill: When she's not writing picture books, Margo is working on longer fiction and teaching novel writing classes, such as WOW!'s Writing a Novel With a Writing Coach, that starts THIS FRIDAY, November 1. It's not too late to achieve your 2019 goals of working on or finishing a novel with Margo's help. Register here before the price increases in 2020.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--I'm glad you persisted and persevered when it came to this book. As successful as you are, it's encouraging to read about the obstacles you faced.

Good luck with this marketing strategy.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

So ghad that you stuck with it and got this out in the world! Maybe you could write a post on marketing pod casts?

Margo Dill said...

Thanks! It is nice of you to say. Obstacles are everywhere at every level. But I do believe that everyone can overcome them.

That's a great idea. I will put that on my list.

Lynn Nicholas said...

This is a great story, which is as much about overcoming obstacles in a creative way and perseverance as publishing. Good advice as well.

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