I spent the first four years of my children’s writing career making solid progress in the magazine market but failing to sell a book. I read books. I took classes. I wrote numerous picture book manuscripts and submitted them to several publishers. I worked hard, but I wasn’t getting anywhere.
In the meantime, I was homeschooling my three children. In the course of our science lessons, my children become very interested in different animal appendages and how they benefited the animals who had them. We searched the library, but we only found a few dry just-the-facts books on this topic. My children were in preschool and early elementary grades. They wanted the material presented to them in a fun and entertaining way.
Right around this time, I saw a clip in one of my writing newsletters about a relatively new publisher looking for picture book manuscripts that had a science focus. I had my lightbulb moment! I would write a book about animal appendages, I would write it in a tone that my own children would enjoy, and I would submit it to this publisher.
Within a few weeks, I had a first draft. I sent it to my critique group. I revised. I sent it to my critique group again. I revised again. I sent it back to my critique group, and they thought it was ready to go. I submitted my manuscript in August of 2006. I received an email the day before Thanksgiving of that same year informing me that this publisher wanted to buy my book. I had done it! I had sold my first book! Needless to say, I was extra grateful that Thanksgiving.
I learned from this experience that if I wanted to increase my chances of being published again in the future, I needed to narrow my focus and concentrate on what individual publishers were looking for and not just what I felt like writing. That first book, Paws, Claws, Hands and Feet was published in February 2008. Using my write-what-they-are-looking-for approach, I have sold thirteen additional books since.
Kimberly Hutmacher is a writer, teacher and book reviewer. You can learn more about her and her books by visiting her website www.kimberlyhutmacher.com.
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