Sunday, November 19, 2006

Grateful Author Tale #3

Time to take a break from skankery and turn to Thanksgiving! Send your thankful publishing and/or publicity story to {bystander at bellastander dot com}.

Dianne Ochiltree writes:
My first book for kids, CATS ADD UP!, published in 1998, is due to the generosity, kindness and help of a famous author and an editor at Scholastic.

Way back in 1996, I was selected, via submission of writing samples, to attend a conference in which part of the day was a 45-minute critique session with a published author, editor or agent. When I arrived, I found that I was paired with the keynote speaker, Paula Danziger. This thrilled and frightened me---if anyone was going to find out that I had no talent for the business of children's writing, and let me know that I'd better go back to advertising, it would be someone as well-published and recognized as Ms. Danziger.

I found in my subsequent meeting that Paula was warm, supportive and full of insightful advice on how to fine-tune my story for submission. She reassured me that I had the basic "right stuff," a confidence-boosting gift I'll always treasure!

But Paula's gift didn't end there. Her last question to me was, "Where do you think your book belongs--which publisher did you have in mind when you were writing this?" I said Scholastic, definitely.

Later in the day, like a woman on a mission, Paula made sure I met every editor she knew at the conference, including one from a division of Scholastic. This editor agreed to receive my submission, with Paula's enthusiasic urgings. More surprising, this editor said that if he could not use the story in his imprint but felt my work had merit, he would send it along to other editors within the house who might be able to consider it for publication. No promises, of course. And I really doubted it would get that far.

Imagine my surprise months later when I got a phone call from an editor at Cartwheel/Scholastic who wanted to acquire the story for the "Hello, Reader!" paperback series.

So that's how CATS ADD UP! first saw print. After several years in the original series, it was reissued in the new Scholastic Reader paperback series this year, which means it's been in nearly continuous publication for over eight years. Another blessing to count!

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