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How We Snagged Our Book Deals: Slush Pile Successes! (part 1)

By Patti Richards

Ah, the dreaded slush pile! Even the name sounds like something out of a sci-fi/horror film. The main character walks toward the foggy bog and trips (because she’s wearing five-inch heels), music crescendos with a final warning, “Go back! Go back!” and boom, she’s in the slush pile with no way out! Thankfully, friends, our slush pile, although scary in many ways, is not a quagmire of despond. For some of us, it’s the very leg up we needed to move forward on our writing journey. Here are three of our “Twenty-One for the Books” slush pile stories to cheer you on your way.

Tracy C. Gold, author of EVERYONE’S SLEEPY BUT THE BABY (Familius, March 2021), calls her journey to publication, “A true story of being pulled out of the slush pile!” Tracy admits she submitted her tiny little poem to Familius earlier than she should have—no one had critiqued it yet. But sometimes this journey requires the writer to follow her gut. And in this case, Tracy had “that” feeling. She learned about Familius through a friend who was published there, but didn’t mention her name when she submitted. When Familius emailed Tracy saying they wanted to publish her poem as a board book, she couldn’t believe her eyes and had to refresh her email several times! Two different freelance editors gave Tracy two very different opinions about her story while she was waiting to hear back from Familius. One loved the book, but one said it wouldn't sell because it was geared toward parents, not children. Tracy said, “As a parent of a baby at the time I was sending it out, this really threw me for a loop. I was still the one calling the shots about what my baby read, so I thought marketing to parents was great for a baby book. I'm so glad Familius agreed!”

EVERYONE’S SLEEPY BUT THE BABY is illustrated by Adele Dafflon. Tracy is running a preorder campaign before it’s release on March 16th; she’s giving a copy to a baby in need for every copy preordered. Details on her website.

Amanda Davis, author of 30,000 STITCHES: THE INSPIRING STORY OF THE NATIONAL 9/11 FLAG, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport (Worthy Kids, May 2021), sent her query as a snail mail, unagented submission to WorthyKids in February of 2019. She continued to query the story to agents and editors, later signing with an agent for this one specific book. Seven months from her initial snail-mail submission in September of 2019, Amanda heard back from an assistant editor at WorthyKids asking if the story was still available. She said an enthusiastic YES and connected the editor with her agent. The story is now set to be released two years and three months from the day she sent out her original query! Pre-order a signed copy of 30,000 STITCHES HERE!

Patti Richards, author of MRS. NOAH (Little Lamb Books, September 2021), has a slush-pile success story that began while she was packing for vacation. She thought, “If getting my family ready for a cruise is hard, I wonder how Mrs. Noah got everything ready for the ark?!” A couple of years and many revisions later, MRS. NOAH and a second faith-based manuscript were ready for submission. Patti chose #FaithPitch on Twitter as the first place to share her stories. But, no love! Patti decided to submit her second story to Little Lamb Books directly because she thought it would be a good fit. That was February of 2019. Fast-forward to September, and it was time for the second #Faithpitch of the year. Patti decided to give MRS. NOAH another try. Patti said, “You can imagine my surprise when just a week or so later, I got an email from Rachel Pellegrino, publisher at Little Lamb, letting me know they had loved my submission from February. In the same letter, Rachel mentioned she remembered MRS. NOAH from #FaithPitch. She asked if I could send that manuscript as well, because if she loved it, they wanted to offer me a two-book contract! I sent her MRS. NOAH, and now I’m looking forward to two picture book releases with Little Lamb in 2021 and 2022.”


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