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“It helps if you (occasionally) think you’re a genius…”

If I knew the definitive answer to ‘how to get a publishing deal’, I’d be able to mend the hole in my roof. Only kidding (I live in a basement).

I’ve had quite a few books published, but it’s always been tricky. It helps if you (occasionally) think you’re a genius of course, and are slightly rhino-skinned to let those rejection emails/letters bounce off you.

My first book was published in 1986. I love magic tricks, but am quite inept at performing them. Anyway I wrote and illustrated a book about them, some of which I’d invented and tried out on my long-suffering daughter, and went off to see a small publisher called Patrick Hardy (later taken over by Lutterworth).

The pictures and text weren’t enough; he wanted a demo. I ended up doing something far too complicated with string and legs (don’t ask). Tricky Tricks got published, and amazingly is still in print. Probably what I’m saying is, enjoy your subject, whatever it is.

Believing in your work and taking delight in it is essential, though it’s important and often inspirational to look at what other people have done.

Of course, check no one’s already used your title. And consider whether your work is more entertaining, perceptive or funnier than other work in a similar category? Listen to criticism and suggestions if they’re constructive.

Your proposal has to appeal to an overworked editor whose attention span may be gnat-like, so a synopsis should be short and clear, and pictures (a double-page spread and cover idea, if it’s going to be a picture book for young readers) should delight both you and the viewer.

By the way, I’ve had loads of rejection letters over the years… any ideas on how to use them creatively, apart from shredding/lining a hamster cage?

Sally Kindberg is an illustrator and writer. She has one daughter, Emerald, and lives in London with 67 robots. She is the illustrator for The Comic Strip History of the World and The Comic Strip History of Space.

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