Welcome, Michelle! Thank you for joining us on the blog. Please briefly describe your journey to publication.
Thank you, Rosie, for welcoming me to your Chitchat series on KidLit Oasis.
It’s so valuable for writers, pre-published or multi-published, to read about journeys to publication because they are each so unique! Every creative should keep in mind that each person’s path contains bumps and turns, but also joys and celebrations. Here are a few highlights of mine…
I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a child. Being an author was my dream ever since my third-grade teacher assigned us to write and illustrate our own picture books. The PTA moms made our stories into real books from donated fabric and cereal boxes. I will never forget holding that book in my hands!
Fast forward thirty years, I reconsidered that dream while living in Belgium. During my graduate and teaching years in the States, I had written, published, and won recognition for my adult poetry. But having children sparked once again my dream of publishing a picture book.
I spent years writing bedtime stories and then years revising those stories. While querying, I was often told that they were “too quiet.” So, I wrote some “less quiet” stories, two of which were published as early readers. I also wrote a couple middle grade manuscripts.
I eventually queried an agent with a middle grade novel, who then asked to see any picture books manuscripts I had. I sent her a few. And in the end, this agent, Essie White of Storm Literary Agency, signed me as a client because she loved my quieter, more literary stories.
It may have taken more years than I could have ever anticipated for Teddy Let’s Go! to be published, but it did find the perfect publishing home at Enchanted Lion Books. I am so thrilled that readers everywhere will be able to meet Teddy on December 6, 2022.
Would you walk us through the experience of getting the news of your publishing offer? How long after submission did it happen? Were you aware that it went to acquisitions or was it a surprise? How did you get the news (email, phone call, text) and where were you/what were you doing when that happened? What was your immediate reaction? Who was the first person you shared the news with? I'm always curious about how other authors experienced this particular moment of "The News" so, please give us all the juicy details! :)
Teddy Let’s Go! went on submission in Spring 2016. And then one afternoon in Fall 2018, I was writing in my office when an email popped up from my agent. I read it several times to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood! Claudia Zoe Bedrick at Enchanted Lion Books wanted to publish Teddy Let’s Go! and Nahid Kazemi was already on board to illustrate it!
Almost immediately after responding to Essie, I sent an email to my husband, and I couldn’t wait to pick up my daughters from school! But other than them, no one could know.
Because Claudia is the publisher at ELB, the manuscript didn’t go to an acquisitions meeting. But paperwork and contracts take time. So, I didn’t sign a contract until the following Spring 2019. The deal was finally listed in Publisher’s Weekly, and I could share the news with everyone… What a hard secret to keep!
What do you find most challenging in this business, either on the creative or publishing side of things? What do you find most rewarding? What helps you stay motivated?
The most challenging aspect of publishing is the business side because so much is out of the author’s control. All we can do, as writers or illustrators, is to keep learning, growing, and producing our best work. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to know what trends will be in the marketplace. As writers, we can’t, nor should we, control how quickly illustrations get done.
Although publishing is a slow process, there are many rewards along the way: crafting the perfect phrase or metaphor, meeting a fellow creative that becomes a dear friend, having the opportunity to learn from more experienced authors, finally connecting with the dream agent, … and then of course getting that email and phone call to talk about the publisher who wants your work. I feel very privileged to be able to know and work with Claudia and the team at Enchanted Lion. I’ve admired their books for years! It’s greatly satisfying to be publishing Teddy Let’s Go! with ELB.
What helps me stay motivated is the craft of writing. I really enjoy it! I love putting myself in my characters’ shoes, joining them on adventures, discovering their lives (fiction and NF), and imagining the readers who might need their stories.
Another motivation is hearing about other people’s creative journeys. We’re all in this together no matter how different our paths are. Particularly in the kid lit community, the camaraderie and encouragements I’ve received along the way have been invaluable.
Could you share any craft tools or techniques that you find most helpful to you when working on a project? What does your revision process look like?
When I have a new idea for a picture book, I write it all down without stopping to edit. It’s often a long mess of words. But then I get to edit, and I enjoy editing. I see the first draft as a blob of clay or chunk of stone that needs sculpted and chipped away. I find that fun.
However, when writing a novel, I’ll write as much as I can in a day. When I go back to it, I reread what I’ve written, edit a bit, and then continue writing. Usually about five to ten chapters in, I’ll have a really good idea of my characters, setting, and what I want to happen. At that point, I write a rough outline before going any further with the manuscript.
No matter the manuscript, I’ll revise until I can’t see where else I can improve it. This is when I share it with critique partners. When no one has any other suggestions that can improve the work, I’ll do another read-through and send it to Essie. She gives wonderful feedback. So, I consider her comments and make necessary changes.
Looking back, what do you consider your biggest publishing career accomplishment so far? What are some of the things you'd like to accomplish in the next year from now?
My biggest accomplishment is not quitting.
At least for a year before signing with Storm Literary, I would ask myself monthly, “When do I stop?” And then someone, a critique partner, another writer, or feedback from webinar or conference would say just what I needed to hear to go one more month. To anyone reading this who is nodding their head, relating to the doubts, let this be your “don’t stop” message. If you’re reading this, you care enough about your craft and your audience to keep going.
What I’d like to accomplish in the next year from now is to polish my MG verse novel and have it ready for submission (hopefully in the next few months). I also have a new idea for a picture book in verse I would like to explore.
What is your vision for this book? What kind of impact do you hope it would have on readers?
I envision my book being shared with grandparents, parents, children, and siblings at home, in school, and at library readings. I hope it reaches an audience who appreciates it and that it brings them joy. I hope the story touches readers’ hearts and helps them feel loved and know they have a lot of love to give as well.
So, what's coming up next for you? Please tell us about any new releases, exciting news, upcoming events or anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
Teddy Let’s Go! releases December 6, but I’m having a special pre-launch event at my local bookstore, Park Road Books in Charlotte, NC on November 19. My December calendar is filling up with local events, but I am looking forward to travel and virtual events in the new year as well.
For a signed copy, please order from my local bookstore and mention that you’d like it signed in the comment section at checkout: Park Road Books
Michelle Nott is a dual-nationality author who finds inspiration in her family, her travels, and particularly in American and French literature, culture, and art. Born in the United States, Michelle has also lived in France and in Belgium.
Michelle taught French (pre-K, elementary, high school, and college) and Creative Writing (high school) before focusing her attention on writing for children. She finds crafting picture books an ideal way to combine her love and respect for children, language, and fine art. She strives to share this passion with readers of all ages.
Teddy Let’s Go! is Michelle’s third book for children and her debut picture book. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and their rescue dog.
Connect with Michelle:
G I V E A W A Y! ! !
One lucky winner will receive a fiction picture book critique from Michelle! Just comment on this post by 11/28/22 to be entered in the drawing.
About Rosie J. Pova
Rosie J. Pova is a multi-published, award-winning children's author and kid lit Writing Coach. She's the creator of Picture Book Mastery System™ that is proven to help emerging children's writers advance their career and get closer to their publishing goals.
Rosie's latest picture book, Sunday Rain, was featured in The New York Times and recommended by Parents magazine. Her upcoming picture book, The School of Failure: A Story About Success will be released in the spring of 2022 in both China and the USA.
Rosie also loves to visit schools and her interactive workshops empower students to unleash their creativity and grow in confidence through reading, writing, and creating. Teachers and librarians love Rosie for her bubbly, upbeat personality which captures students' attention, encourages them to think creatively, and motivates them to pursue big dreams.
She has been featured on TV, radio, podcasts, and print media, and also speaks on women's and moms’ topics, sharing her journey from a Bulgarian immigrant to a published author.
Find out more about Rosie's online courses, mentorships, and her work by visiting her website: RosieJPova.com
Check out her Critique Services here, her Workshops here, and her school visits page here.
Rosie is represented by Jennifer Herrington of Harvey Klinger Literary.