While Visions of Sugarplums Dance in My Head – A Few Words about the Process of Getting A Picture Book Published

A miraculous thing happened. One of the big 4 publishers will be publishing my debut picture book soon–well, not really so soon, but that is what this post is about.

Actually, the deal is still a bit of a mystery, but I am happy to say that I won’t be illustrating my first book. That would really be a struggle. I never thought that I’d say this, but a very wise editor chose my debut book, and she knows that the text does not fit my illustrating style. I wholeheartedly agree. I am thrilled to pass the illustrating job to someone else.

While I am waiting for my first book’s publication, I thought that others might like to know what I have learned so far about the process of getting a picture book published.

Step 1: Defy the Odds and Find Someone Who Wants to Publish Your Book

Click on the following link where I tell about my experiences of finding a publisher for my upcoming book on a Twitter Event.

Twitter Ptch Events: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly: Are Twitter Pitch Events Important for Picture Book Writers?

Agents handle most of the publishing process for their writer clients, but I have no agent yet. In my case, the interested editor got the ball rolling by asking to see my full manuscript.

After she read it, she offered me a publishing deal.

I accepted her deal.

After that, the contract is prepared.

This is as far as I have gotten in my deal, but I know that the process is long. For my first book, an illustrator will have to create the art. Then, there is more passing back and forth and more waiting and more passing back and forth. All-in-all, it usually takes a year or two for a book to finally get published.

So, what will I do while I’m waiting for my new baby book to be born?

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Mrs. Cow Is Digging in Her Garden
Jacki Kellum Illustration

While waiting for my debut book to be published, I am back at work.

The sad truth is that writing for children is terribly hard work. It has taken me years of sweat and determination to achieve any success at all with my writing. Like writing poetry, writing for children requires that the writer be a ruthless weeder. Children’s books need to be short, short, short. My book that will be published only has about 100 words. Ostensibly, it only took me an hour to write my soon-to-be-released book. But in reality, it has taken me 70 years to get my book done. Thank goodness, I did not give up along the way.

But I do rest at times. It is while I am resting that my muse revisits me:

Beckoning My Muse
by Jacki Kellum

I rest in the place where I need to be,
For flickering fae breath to come set me free.
O, visions of sugarplums, come visit me.
O, Moonbeams and crystal shards, light up my sea.
O, Soft webs and angel hair strung from a flea,
Please tug my dream boat along.

While I am waiting for my debut novel to be published, I am mining for other great ideas. But I must admit that finding someone who likes my writing has been very important for me. It is in a lack of appreciation, that our spirits shrivel. The true value of finding a publisher is not really about the money or the fame that might come with the deal. [“Might” is the operative word] The true gift of finding a publisher is that it waters a creator’s muse and allows it to float along.

I’ve waited 70 years for the affirmation of becoming published. During that period, I have quit writing and quit painting many times. Many times, my spirit has wilted to the core, but today, I am refreshed. I thank God for that.


The Owl Hunt is Over – The Owls Go to Bed
Jacki Kellum Illustration

I don’t mind waiting another 2 years for my book to come to life in some child’s hands. After 70 years, what’re another 2 years? But I am very thankful that if only for a while, there are Visions of Sugarplums Dancing in My Head.


The Sun Needs to Rise – Jacki Kellum Illustration