Photo Credit Courtesy: Trevor Romain
Read Trevor Romain's story on resilience as a storyteller with publisher rejections to how he sold over 200,000 copies of children books:
I get asked almost every day how I got my first children's book published back in the late 1900's.
It wasn't simple and I had to work my backside off to make it happen. Just because I have books in print doesn't mean I automatically get every book I write published.
I can say the same about almost every one of my 50 or so books. Even the small-print books that we released through the Trevor Romain Company, weren't a walk in the park.
I did learn that putting your heart and soul, and then some, into something you are passionate about, and obsessed with, normally ends in a positive result. Not always exactly how you envisioned or planned though, but often in a better form.
More than anything else, I realized that discipline, tenacity, patience and never taking no for an answer is how to get passion projects off the ground.
I got over 400 rejections, for various book projects, before I landed up getting published by a major publishing house. The more I was rejected, the more I was determined to prove the rejectors wrong. I harnessed my frustration and anger and put it into the work.
Make no mistake I did cuss a lot and throw manuscripts in the fire, and drink too much coffee, and wish flea infestations in the rejectors armpits, but I did realize that my favorite African proverb is true.
'Little by little, a little becomes a lot.'
I must say, my early work was mediocre at best, but somewhere deep in the writing the publishers saw my energy and enthusiasm. I still cringe a tad at some of the illustrations I did for my very early books and, to this day, some of my publishers believe my style of illustration does not fit some of the books I write. And they are correct. I totally agree with them.
I am thrilled to say that I listened to my editors at Free Spirit Publishing when they suggested revised versions of my Laugh and Learn book series, with new illustrator Steve Mark, including 'How To Do Homework Without Throwing Up' and 'Bullying Is A Pain In The Brain' (Pictured.)
And boy am I so glad they did. These books have been in print for over 20 years and my black and white line drawing were tired and old fashioned.
The new series is climbing back up the charts and that would not have happened if I had been arrogant and pig-headed like I was as a young writer who thought he knew everything.
I would never be in the position I am in today if I hadn't learned to take criticism and to use it as a tool to help me make better decisions, and do better work, instead of thinking of it as a slight and a personal judgement. Rejection to me is just permission to go out and prove the rejector wrong.
The Free Spirit series re-launch is wonderfully illustrated by Steve Mark. I am thrilled to say that combined, just these two books alone have sold over 220 000 copies and have been translated into 18 different languages.
I'm happy to say the other books in my series have been updated too.
Thank you to my fantastic editors Elizabeth Verdick and Eric Braun for helping me, a bona fide knucklehead, turn a bunch of crazy ideas, and impossible dreams, into real books that help kids face some pretty tough life situations.
"The place where I grow ideas and create stories using words, illustrations and photographs." - Trevor Romain