I had a book—this beautiful, heart-warming, touching children’s book. (Not the one I’m currently wrapping up.) I wrote this book and poured my heart into it. It was everything I wished for kids to experience and be immersed in.
But, I had no agent. No contacts. No history of working with a book publisher.
And so, they said, “It can’t be done.” The industry has changed. Nobody will read this book. No publisher will even look at it.
I’m not a fan of that kind of thinking. I don’t jive with this idea that certain things just can’t be done.
My Dad grew up on a farm. A real farm. With acres and acres of fields. Cows as far as the eye could see. Three horses. Chickens. A cantankerous bull. His family was miles away from the nearest town.
When the car broke down, you figured out what went wrong—even if you had no idea. And you fixed it—even if you’d never done that before. When the plumbing went on the fritz and there was no hot or even cold water, you opened up the walls, dug holes, explored and looked and eventually figured it out. When the horse broke his leg you found a way to wrap a piece of wood with twine until it healed.
You just did it.
I won’t say that I have this rosy perspective of living that way. But I do give thanks every day for a Dad who demonstrated that no matter what was broken or needed to be figured out, there was always a way.
So I started talking to my friends and family. “I have this book I want to get out into the world.” And they talked about what they knew, who they knew, who might be a good person to talk to. A friend recommended her friend, a mutual acquaintance of mine, too. This friend had worked for a publishing house. I asked her if she had any recommendations.
She suggested a particular publishing house in Toronto. She didn’t have the name of a contact there. I checked them out and of course they ask that you submit to a general submission email address. Which receives over 200 submissions a month.
Instead, I did more research. I found a list of the publisher’s top authors in that genre. I reached out to five of them. Some didn’t reply. Two replied with “Good luck”—that was it. I found an article written by the books editor of a Toronto newspaper; he featured the publishing house I was looking at submitting to. I got in touch with him. He gave me a name. An editor to send my book to.
I sent her an email. Mentioned so-and-so from the newspaper suggested I get in touch. She said: “Send me your book.”
I put the package together and had it on her desk in 48 hours.
Then an email came in from a long-time author of theirs, a guy in his mid-60s. He said “Lindsey, I put in a call to the publishing house. They have your package and will read it.”
A few months later, I got a reply.
She’d read it. It wasn’t a good fit.
I was sad.
And also elated. She’d read it! Among over 200 submissions a month. In an industry where “Nobody reads it unless you have an agent.” Where “You can’t get an agent unless you’ve been published.”
Where, as I’ve experienced, you can find a way, figure it out, and make your way through. No matter what.
My experience tells me that this works in other areas, too. That it can be more than just a story. It can be a way of life.