'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Guest Post: Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Kids' Book Review is delighted to welcome Australian author Teena Raffa-Mulligan with some words of advice for children's authors who aren't sure how to proceed when a manuscript is rejected. Read on as Teena encourages you to 'see the possibilities'.

You’re a writer and you want to be published. You know you’ve got the ability, the discipline and the dedication to make the grade. You’re prepared to work hard at achieving your author dream. But let me ask you—do you also have an open mind?

Hmm, I hear you thinking. What’s that got to do with success as an author? Think again. Your perspective can be the difference between remaining a wannabe author forever and becoming published. If you’re too set in your ideas and expectations about your writing, it can prevent you from seeing all the possibilities and being open to opportunities.

Often when we set out to become authors we have one type of publication in mind—books—and the goal is for a multi-book contract with a leading international publisher. The reality is that it’s tough to crack the market, especially now when the only constant is change. But take a broader perspective and that published author dream can come true in unexpected ways.

The picture book text that has unsuccessfully done the rounds of publishers can, with some modification, be accepted by a magazine for publication as a poem or story. Develop the original concept further and it can evolve into a short chapter book or novel for older readers. Try reworking that unpublished movie script as a novel. Consider how a section of the novel that hasn’t yet found a publisher could be rewritten as a short story. Produce a series of non-fiction articles from the research carried out for the book.

If you’re serious about becoming a published author, don’t discard those rejected manuscripts and give up on the dream. Look at your work with fresh eyes and ask yourself how it can be adapted to suit a different market. My new release beginner chapter book, Catnapped, my Blake Education Gigglers series title Getting Rid of Wrinkles and my novel Mad Dad for Sale were all originally rejected picture book texts. So were many of the stories and poems I’ve had published in children’s magazines and anthologies.

These paid acceptances encouraged me to keep writing in the years before I had books published. Having a list of publishing credits also gave me the confidence to start thinking of myself as a ‘real’ writer.

Of course, there are many steps along the way to developing a failed picture book text into a chapter book or novel that will sell. It requires a rethink about plot, characters and voice, and the commitment to go back to the beginning to start over and take a new direction. If you believe the idea has true potential, it’s worth the effort. And there’s nothing more satisfying to a writer than receiving an email or phone call saying, “We love your story. We want to publish it.”

Being open to possibilities has worked for me. It can work for you, too.

Teena Raffa-Mulligan is a reader, writer and daydream believer. She writes across genres and her publications include picture books, chapter books, a novel, short stories and poems. Her writing life has also included a long career as a journalist and editor. Teena's junior fiction book Catnapped is a beginner chapter book for animal lovers published by Xist Publishing. Visit Teena's professional website, website for writers and readers, and Facebook page for more information about her books and writing.