Monday, May 13, 2013

The Kindness of Strangers (May theme: Getting Through the Dark Times)

by Tracy Barrett

They say that children’s publishing is a bunny-eat-bunny world. That may be so, but I always say that at least they’re nice bunnies.

Example: A few years ago I got an email from an author I didn’t know personally. She was having trouble with an editor who at first had seemed hot for her work but who had suddenly cooled. This author knew I had been involved with that editor and asked if I would mind sharing my experience. I told her my story, and then said that in rejecting a manuscript, the editor had said “I have no doubt you’ll find someone to publish it, but I hope you don’t. I think it would ruin your career.” (The book did get published and won some nice awards and stayed in print for quite a while. It brought me to the attention of another editor, who sought me out to write a series. So there.)

My new friend wrote back, “She said the same thing to me! I don’t know how I would have gotten through it without the support of my agent.”

In the course of my reply I asked her who agent was, and she told me, and asked if I’d like a recommendation. I said yes, and that’s how I got my agent.

Another time, I was sitting next to a writer during a keynote at an SCBWI conference. The last time we had seen each other was six months earlier, when we had both been struggling to revise difficult manuscripts. At this meeting, she wrote on my notebook, “How are the revisions coming?” I wrote back, “Well, you know . . . ” and she wrote, “Yeah, me too.”

We speak the same language, no matter where in the journey we are. We offer contact information unsolicited. We invite each other to be on panels with us; we tell our local bookstores about one another; we turn our friends’ books face-out on the shelves.

This kind of support may exist in other areas of publishing, but from what I hear anecdotally, it’s not so common outside of the children’s publishing world.

So how do I get through the dark times? With the help of some very nice bunnies.




14 comments:

  1. Oh yes, I have encountered some wonderful bunnies, and I am so grateful! (Love the notebook conversation especially. :)

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    1. That conversation took place at an SCBWI meeting, home of the world's nicest bunnies!

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  2. Tracy, YOU are one of my nicest bunniest! So grateful for all of your support and encouragement over the years.

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  3. So true, Tracy! I've gotten to know some really wonderful writers on my journey and their support has meant the world to me! And you must be following me through the bookstore, because I DO turn all the Smack Dabbers books face out ... ;)

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    1. My writer friends are so important to me, Trudi!

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  4. I am with you on the bunnies. All of you in the world of writing for children and bringing your best to kids are amazing. New it back when I started in the library (AGES AGO) and know it now! Keep on writing!

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    1. And of course, librarians are among the BEST of the bunnies!

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  5. I never would have kept going and been published without the support and encouragement of my bunnies -- all met in children's writing classes and/or SCBWI events. The children's lit world is the closest thing I've ever seen to a Utopia.

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  6. What a great story, Tracy! I love how kind and welcoming the writing community can be...

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    1. I'm constantly moved by how supportive it is.

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  7. Nice post, Trudi. The children's writing community is the best!

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