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Hey, Coach! (and the Value of Trying Again)

One of the more challenging aspects of writing picture books is the speculative nature of the process. Coming up with a story idea is easy. But is it a good idea? Or, more to the point, is it marketable idea, one that will lead to an acquisition?

Unfortunately we won’t know until we actually write the story—and not a rough version of it, but a fully-developed, honed and polished, ready-for-publication manuscript. All of which takes time and effort—and no small amount of hope that the investment will pay off.

And, frankly, there’s no guarantee that it will—which is why I’m so happy on those rare occasions when an editor pitches a story idea to me (e.g., Over the River & Through the Wood and Will’s Winter Nap, coming fall 2017). Even then, an editor may pass on the manuscript, but at least we’re starting from a place of guaranteed interest.

I also appreciate it when editors provide specific comments on a submission and offer to reconsider it if revisions are made. Hey, Coach! began life as a multi-sport “mishmosh,” as Sterling editor Meredith Mundy put it. She suggested I focus on one sport—soccer—and offered to take a second look. I did, she did, and the mish-mosh is now a book. For a peek behind the scenes—and a look at the two manuscripts and sample illustrations—visit the Hey, Coach! page.

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