My PB#chat mentorship finished at the beginning of December last year, when I had to upload the first 100 words of the manuscript and four of the illustrations to a showcase that took place during the first week of December. Agents and publishers from all over the USA were invited to view. Unfortunately I couldn’t show my dummy book – which I was quite proud of – but I figured that if an agent was interested in the story I could send them the dummy when they contacted me. I felt I’d finally clambered out of the uncanny valley between making Elton too human-looking and making him too realistic. I was also satisfied with my sample illustrations, which were carefully selected to reflect Elton’s character, some of the other characters, and the landscape he lives in.
Then I sat back and waited for the offers to come rolling in.
But it didn’t quite happen the way I’d expected it to. No comments at all! I noticed that some of my fellow mentees were getting anything up to seven or eight comments from agents and publishers. By the end of the week, only a few of us had received no requests for a submission. What was wrong with us? I wondered if they didn’t like my illustrations. I wondered if they didn’t like the way the story was going. When you write and illustrate a story it’s very easy to feel impostor’s syndrome three times over: ‘Am I a lousy writer? Am I a lousy illustrator? Do I suck at both?’
I looked again at what was currently being published. I consulted my fellow mentees and together we discussed what the agents had been looking for. I concluded in the end that – plain and simple – my story just wasn’t the current flavor of the month.
So I picked myself up off the floor and did what all rejected creators have to do – I got on with another story. This time I didn’t illustrate it – I wanted the story to make it on its own. This story has had plenty of approving peer reviews, and Brian also had a quick look and liked it! So it’s up on the SCBWI Winter Conference Manuscript Showcase (viewable only to agents and publishers) right now, from Feb 19, for 2 weeks. And I put three illustrations for another story that I’ve written into the Winter Conference Illustrators’ Portfolio which you can view here. I’m somewhere near the end as it’s listed alphabetically. Look for the three blue ones. Wish me luck, but I’m not stopping there. My mentorship with Brian Lies has given me the confidence and determination to keep sending off my stories, with and without illustrations, to agents and publishers in Australia, the US and the UK where I grew up. Some time, somewhere, someone will like my stuff and offer me a contract! Some day my ship will come!