Stacey Corrigan on Her Debut Picture Book Experience

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If you’ve ever been a teacher, you know how many times pencils come up missing. And that was the inspiration for our latest guest, debut picture book author, Stacey Corrigan. It took a little bit of time, but soon that dream will be a book that people can purchase everywhere.

Stacey Corrigan sat down to share her publishing journey and a few tips she learned along the way. Read the full interview below!

Stacey Corrigan picture book writer | interview on becoming a children's book writer

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10 Questions with Debut Author Stacey Corrigan:

1. Congratulations on your debut picture book, Pencil Eater! Tell us a little bit about the book:

Thanks! The Pencil Eater is being published by MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing, a small but mighty traditional publisher and the story is illustrated by Steve Page. He’s amazing!

When I first started looking at the illustrators my publisher used, I hoped he would want to work on my book and when I found out that he did, I was so excited. I can’t wait to share our work with the world. 

2. Where did your inspiration come from for this book?

I teach second grade and pencils disappear in my classroom all. the. time!

About five or so years ago, I was joking around with my students and I said, “Second Graders are Pencil Eaters.”  My whole class laughed. I wrote the idea down and then got to work on it that weekend. 

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3. Walk us through the process you went through from idea to publication:

The Pencil Eater was my very first idea and the first manuscript I ever wrote, so I had a rocky path to publication. I made every mistake a new author could make–except I didn’t quit.

I wrote what I thought was going to be a national bestseller, Googled “children’s book publishers” and fired off two or three manuscripts all typed in Comic Sans (AAAArrrrgghhh!) before anyone else ever read it.

If you are new, do not do that! Good stories take many critiques, revisions, and rewrites before they are ready.

I lucked out though. An editor rejected me (deservedly so) but took the time to send me some feedback. She told me that while my premise was a strong one, I needed to work on my craft. I then Googled “Picture book craft” and discovered the KidLit world.

I read every article I could find online, bought books, and joined KidLit411 and SubIt Club. I shelved my manuscript for a while and started writing, critiquing, and growing. I was lucky enough to find a few outstanding critique partners who I learned so much from and will forever be grateful they took the time to help me. 

After about a year, I took The Pencil Eater back out and started revising. I gave the story a plot, added some humor, and reminded myself to show, don’t tell. I got a ton of critiques and kept going. I read a thread on KidLit411 about MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing and was impressed by the publisher’s honesty so sent it off and a few months later, she accepted. 

4. You’re represented by Rebecca Angus. How did that come to be?

When I decided to start looking for an agent, I did a ton of research on Twitter. Rebecca Angus stood out to me. Her clients spoke very highly of her. She was super transparent, honest, and communicated regularly with her clients. She was also an author and she liked the kind of stories I wrote.

One of my CPs signed with her and confirmed what I thought–Rebecca was everything I was looking for in an agent.

I participated in #PitMad last September and got a like from a publisher. I sent them my manuscript and they made an offer. When they sent me the contract, I was intimidated by the terms. I knew I needed help.

I reached out to Rebecca and she answered right away. She asked me to send another piece of work (something I had sent her earlier in the year). She got back to me and set up a phone call.

During the call, she advised me to turn down the offer. Her explanation made it clear she was looking out for my best interest. She made an offer to represent me and I agreed. I knew signing with her was the right thing to do. A few months later, the publisher closed their children’s division. Rebecca saved me a lot of heartache. 

5. A sequel was just announced, The Pencil Eater Confession. How exciting! When are the expected release dates for your books and how was that decided?

I am so very excited. We are still working the details out, but the first book, Pencil Eater, is set to come out in August. 😄

6. What’s been the most challenging part of publishing?

Waiting. I had hoped the waiting would be over after I signed a contract and got an agent. Nope. Still waiting. So I write, critique, and go on walks. It helps–a little, but I  am definitely learning to develop patience. 

7. What is the biggest obstacle you’ve run into so far?

I am really proud of myself for overcoming all the rejection early on. It was so hard. I remember at one point I was telling my husband that I was very close to giving up.

My oldest son (who was around 9 at the time) overheard me talking and said, “You are going to get published, I know it. Don’t quit.” I realized at that moment I couldn’t quit. My sons were watching. 

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8. What has been your favorite part of the process?

The KidLit community. I won’t thank anyone individually because so many have helped me along the way. KidLit authors are so incredibly generous and I have been blessed to work with the best of them. 

9. What is one thing you’ve learned?

I’ve learned that you have to be ready when an opportunity presents itself. It is easy to get lulled to sleep by the querying process because the “nos” come so frequently but when your yes comes, you will want to be ready.

Have 4-6 polished manuscripts and your bio ready to go before you start querying agents. When querying publishers directly, a book blurb and bio are a great start.

10. What would be your best advice for someone hoping to get their book published?

Before you submit, you have to let other writers critique your story. Find other writers, read their work, and let them read yours.

Critique. Exchange. Repeat.

Your writing will get stronger. Also, don’t quit. If getting published is your dream, learn the process and stick to it.  

A big thank you to Stacey Corrigan for sharing her story with us! Be sure to pick up your copy of the Pencil Eater by Stacey Corrigan in a bookstore near you. You can follow Stacey on Twitter to stay up-to-date with her publishing journey!

And think about things in your daily life that could inspire your next book. Who knows? We could be reading about YOUR publishing journey very soon! 😚

For more articles to help you with your journey:

Share Stacey Corrigan’s Story with Your Writer’s Group Today!

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  1. I’m so happy for Stacey. She also helped to critique some of the tales in my anthology of African stories for children which will be out next month (self-published). I’m not surprised at her success; she’s good. I can’t wait to read her book.

    1. Congratulations on your own book, Tony! I’m so excited for her book to come out, too. It’s amazing what we can accomplish with hard work and dedication. And through a valuable critique group. 😉

  2. People are going to love the book. Stacey is very talented and I’m looking for many books from her.. Congratulations Stacey..

    1. Thanks so much, Brooke for interviewing me and thank you, Sandy, for always believing in me.

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