It’s the 4th of July as I write this and fireworks are exploding all around me. It was a very big day. The unexpected happened. The fireworks are appropriate.
It all began eight months ago when I opened my email in-box and found a manuscript that absolutely melted my heart. I am a very sentimental soul and I desperately want the good in this world to overcome the bad. As a result, I am drawn to stories that encourage children to bring their best to this difficult world.
This little gem of a story, A Jewish Child, written by Barbara Pronin, is the most powerful tool I have to make a difference in this world, and I want to share with you its serendipitous path to publication.
I called Ms. Pronin immediately upon reading her story and explained to her that although I am not Jewish, and the market is opposed to didactic stories, that I loved her manuscript and would do the very best I could to find it a good home. We both researched large and small publishers that edited and published Jewish-themed picture books and prepared a carefully targeted submission list.
After several responses coming back with the dreaded “We tend to shy away from didactic stories,” I was not sure where to go next. Ironically, a Blue Apple Books catalog showed up in my mail, which I eagerly reviewed as I was not familiar with their books. Within days, out of the blue, I got a note from Cecile Goyette, an editor I had known many years before but had lost track of, letting me know that she was now acquiring and editing for Blue Apple Books.
Upon reviewing the catalog, I noted that many of their books had a Jewish theme, and so I immediately sent the manuscript off to Cecile to see if it might be a good fit for her. All fingers, toes, and eyes were appropriately crossed.
Two weeks later I was at the ALA and I saw the Blue Apple Books booth. Harriet Ziefert, the publisher, greeted me, and I told her about my introduction to her company and that I had a manuscript I just loved that I had recently sent to Cecile. We discussed the content and she stated that she was looking for a picture book for an illustrator she really wanted to work with, and that she would be sure to get the manuscript from Cecile; that because she was Jewish and Cecile was not, that it may appeal more to her own sensibilities than to Cecile’s anyway.
Today, a week later, I awoke asking myself why wait to see if she actually takes the time to get the manuscript from Cecile. I had her card, so I sent it directly to her. By mid afternoon I had an offer from Ms. Ziefert for the book that breaks all the rules, and I have strong a feeling it’s going to blow the roofs off when it comes out. Ms. Ziefert has contracted with a National Jewish Book Award Honoree to illustrate this timeless picture book, and it will be published on the fall 2013 list.
So, as I said in my last blog post (yes, more than a year ago!) that you never know what’s around the corner. Keep your eyes peeled for signs and seize every opportunity that comes your way.