In part 1 of this interview with Robert Vescio we looked at his soaring success in the picture book market in Australia. Today we continue to find out the events and experiences that helped shape him and his writing.
Robert, can you tell use how you developed your writing to get it to a publishable state? Did you belong to any critique groups, attend courses and association events, enter competitions? If so, how did/do they help?
I’ve always submitted my stories to manuscript assessment agencies for critiquing and editing first. It’s important to get feedback from people in the industry. I would recommend this to all writers. Before submitting a manuscript, make sure your work is polished. After all, publishers are professionals and we must show respect in how we present our work to them.
I started my writing career submitting stories to competitions. I was fortunate each time to receive a placing. I’ve won awards for my children’s writing including First Place in the 2012 Marshall Allan Hill Children’s Writing Competition and Highly Commended in the 2011 Marshall Allan Hill Children’s Writing Competition.
This gave me the confidence to submit my stories to anthologies. I’ve had stories published in Packed Lunch, Short and Twisted, Charms Vol 1, The Toy Chest and The School Magazine NSW.
I think it’s very important to have a presence out there in the writing community. The more work you have out there the better this will sit for your in the long term.
You were working in the Publishing industry before you started writing for kids – did this help with getting your books published in any way – whether by knowing the market and how things work or knowing what publishers look for, how to craft a story, networks etc?
Yes, working in the publishing industry certainly gave me an advantage into how the children’s publishing world worked. I read lost of picture books and started to see patterns emerge from the various different publishers. I had an idea of what to look out for and who to send certain stories to.
On your blog you say: ‘Remember, persistence is key. Rejection is crushing but you should never let it get you down. This is part of your journey to success. It’s a long road but it’s worth it!’ What discouragements have there been for you in the writing and publishing process? How have you dealt with these?
Rest assured, I have received my fair share of rejections in my travels but success always starts with failure.
Some publishers will give you feedback and guidance, if you’re lucky enough. I always take their comments and suggestions on board and rework my stories accordingly.
No one likes rejection. But rejection letters only fuel me even more to improve my work. I keep all my rejection letters in a folder. Why? Because this is a constant reminder of my commitment to my writing.
I know that Eric had a rocky time finding his way into the world (pun intended 🙂). Initially accepted by a publisher who subsequently closed their doors, it is now being published by Wombat Books.
Publishing has its ups and downs but that’s like with anything in life. The industry here in Australia is thriving and I think it’s imperative that we all work together and help each other to succeed. I am very grateful to both publishers who took on my manuscript and for working so hard and diligently to make this possible for me.
I see from your website and social media that you go into schools and talk about your books. What do you love about this and who does it benefit?
I love visiting schools. I write for kids so it makes sense. For me the most rewarding part about being a picture book author is sharing my stories with children. Not only do I create fans for my books, but it’s great to see how I can make a difference in a child’s life.
Picture books are a great way to express emotions and ideas in simple ways. They invite engagement – a connection. That’s why I enjoy writing picture books because it supports an adult-child conversation. The pictures help to initiate a discussion with young children and express their feelings.
I see you are a role model for books in homes. What does this mean for you?
Being a Books in Homes Role Model helps me to connect with kids to books and gives them an appreciation of the process involved in creating the books they love. It’s a much more powerful way than simply reading them.
As a writer, I put myself out there in a way that will help change people’s lives and to better understand their world and relationships. I hope my stories leave children energised and inspired with a new appreciation for reading and writing.
Robert, thank you so much for your generosity in answering my questions. There is a lot for writers to take away from your experiences. I wish you and your books every success.
Thanks for our chat Debra. You’ve been a most gracious host. I wish you all the best of luck with your writing success and I look forward to seeing your next picture book out later this year 😉
You can visit Robert’s website here
For Megan Higginson’s interview with Robert, go here.
You can find me here.