New Voices Award Winners: Publishing Your First Book

New Voices Award sealLast month we brought together past New Voices Award winners to see their advice for new writers. Today, in our next installment in the series, we ask these talented authors to shareguest blogger icon how it felt to have their first book published.

This year marks our 14th annual New Voices Award writing contest. Every year, LEE & LOW BOOKS gives the New Voices Award to a debut author of color for a picture book manuscript.

Q: What was it like seeing your book published?

Linda Boyden image Linda Boyden, The Blue Roses
(our first New Voices Award Winner)

When I first held my first baby, the room became flooded with sunlight. She and I were bathed in its soft glow. At that time I thought it was magical yet now I concede it might have simply been the sun breaking out from behind some clouds. Regardless, I felt blessed and triumphant as only a new mom does.

Years later when I held the first copy of my first book, The Blue Roses, I felt the same way: blessed and triumphant. Blessed because I didn’t start my career as an author until mid-life and the competition was—and still is––so massively talented. Triumphant because I did not let all the rejections my manuscript had received shake my belief in its value.

Since then I have been lucky enough to have more children born and more books published. Each time I feel the same way all over again, though with a new book I get much more sleep! As I take each new book around to signings, school visits or book fairs, I once again walk in beams of sunshine.

Paula Yoo imagePaula Yoo, Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story

The most exciting part of the publication process for my first children’s book, Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story, was receiving my first email with the rough sketches for the scenes in the book. Dom Lee is one of my favorite illustrators, and it was a dream come true when I learned he would be the illustrator for my book. The rough sketches he did blew me away. It was amazing to see the words visually interpreted with Dom’s art. The next steps of the publishing process – receiving more sketches, the “dummy,” and the “F&G”‘s (Fold & Gathers) – were just as exciting. They made the book publishing process tangible for me. I also learned a lot about how words and art have to work organically in order to make a book come alive. The publication process helped me become a better writer for my next picture book. When I received the final version of my first book and held it in my hands, the book took my breath away.

Glenda Armand imageGlenda Armand, Love Twelve Miles Long

It was late December when Louise May called to tell me that my book would be published. That was my best Christmas gift since the Christmas morning that my daughter was born.

When I saw the completed book for the first time, I thought how beautifully designed and illustrated it was. I was thrilled that my words had helped to create such a beautiful work. Even now, when I see Love Twelve Miles Long on Amazon and in bookstores and libraries, I am still amazed that I am a published author!

Don Tate imageDon Tate, It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw

It’s a magic moment when a book creator holds their printed book for the first time. That moment is difficult to describe, it is best experienced. As an illustrator of numerous books for kids, I experienced that moment many times. With the book It Jes’ Happened, the moment was not only magical, it was almost unbelievable. Somewhere in my past, I talked myself into thinking that I couldn’t write. I told myself that I wasn’t supposed to write, because I was not a word person. I hear other illustrators say the same things all the time. Now that I’m a published author, I warn illustrators not to sell themselves short, or else miss the magic of holding a book with their name on it as the author. Don’t miss out on your moment.

More from our past New Voices winners:

Advice for New Writers from our New Voices Award Winners

New Voices Award Winners: “How I Started Writing”

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