I had always wanted to write a funny journey book. I tried various times and it was never right.
And then while researching Indian publishers, I came across Karadi Tales. I know Karadi Tales from a long time ago. They are based in my home-town Chennai (I should say City – but home-city doesn’t have the same feeling of reminiscence.)
I know they were big on audio and I was delighted to find out that they are now publishing picture books too.
So I decided my journey book would be an Indian story and the characters in the story, uniquely Indian, folksy even.
I wrote about a farmer who sets off and meets different people. In my first draft, I setup a problem for the farmer – but didn’t really solve his problem. But well like all writers, I thought it worked. I sent it to the editor at Karadi Tales.
In a few weeks, the editor came back. She said we liked the story; but…
Ugh! Here we go, I thought.
The rest of her email actually told me what she felt was wrong with the script and offered to review a revision.
Ha! That’s better, I thought. See, editing I can do. I can revise something to death. Once I get a hint I am very good at solving the puzzle. Most of the time I suffer from near-sightedness – I can’t really see what’s wrong.
I set off towards the revision. The first thing I did, was to work out the ending, which the editor said wasn’t satisfying. I had an idea – long ago I had written a poem (that went unpublished) on the silence of nature and listening with eyes. I gelled that with the story and I thought I had a good ending now.
But then I thought I would use this opportunity to do some more revisions. I cut the words and introduced sounds of the farm. Then I introduced in-line rhymes. I checked the rhythm one more time and cut some more.
I worked on it for 3 days – making changes here and there. And finally sent it out again and set off on my holiday in 8 months to Scotland.
The good thing is my day job is so busy and I am usually working on so many projects that I forget what I’ve submitted in a conscious way. Although I hold all my submission entries in my head. I exactly know who is yet to reply.
A week and half later, I was in bed, with a bad cold and fever. I heard a ping on the phone in the afternoon. Without looking at the phone, I knew it was the editor. Not sure why – it could be the time – because all my spam is focused before 11 am and after 10 pm. And in India it was end of the day. When editors tackle unsolicited manuscripts worldwide.
I didn’t check the email for another few hours even though the phone was right next to me. I was that ill.
Then I checked and I rejoiced. Yes we like it and can we publish it as a picture book.
Of course, you can! I was happy about so many things – it showed me the power of targeted submission. It showed me how market research and knowing the publisher and their alignment would help pitch the right story.
Well, hopefully this book too will be out next year and will do well.
What’s next then?