Right now I'm in transition mode. My editor left the company and now I have a new editor. Thus far she hasn't gone for any of my story ideas. This is the hard part of being an author. I'm very used to rejection at this point but it can be frustrating when I've come up with a lot of ideas and the editor doesn't like them or doesn't think they'll sell and so on. This is doubly hard for a nonfiction author because I can't invent new stories: I have to FIND them. And they have to be the RIGHT stories.
Here's what I need for a nonfiction story to work:
1) Enough material for me to wade through. For example, as neat as I think it is that someone invented (insert invention) knowing this isn't enough. I need a lot of backstory on this person. I need a few bumpy spots leading up to the big event to build the story arch. And since this is for kids I need a happy ending!
This is a tall order.
2) I also need this story to appeal to KIDS. You really need to dive into the mind of a kid and remember what interests them.
3) I'm attracted to stories where the main character shows perseverance, overcomes a struggle, and so on. As kids notice, a lot of my stories are about an "underdog." It's very important that I love the subject I'm writing about. Even though the editor needs to love the subject and the publishing staff, etc., etc, I'm the one who has to spend an infinite amount of time on this. I have to live and breathe this story for a long period of time so if my heart's not in it then I shouldn't peruse the project!
People may wonder if at the beginning stages I'm thinking about the art but I'm really not. I'm trained as an illustrator. An illustrator's job is to find solutions for problems--sometimes very difficult problems. So the first thing I worry about is the text. I'm not thinking about what kind of art the subject will make for a book. That will come later.
The message here is that it never gets easier... the game just changes. I'm very thankful that I have publishers who want to work with me. But that doesn't make things less frustrating!