Thursday, January 5, 2023

Hold on Tight! Riding the Roller Coaster of Publishing to Achieve Success

by Angela Quezada Padron

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

When I was a young girl, my sister Maria and I used to love going to Six Flags Great Adventure, an amusement park in Jackson, New Jersey, every chance we had. The first ride we always targeted was Rolling Thunder, a popular wooden roller coaster in the ‘80s. It had lots of turns and hills - tall ones and short ones. Sometimes the coaster even rode backward! We let others pass in line so we could time it perfectly to snag the first seat in the front car. Everyone knew that was the best spot to experience the slight zero gravity as we passed over the summits of each hill and felt our stomachs rise into our throats while we fell down the other side. We would raise our hands way up high and push our thighs against the safety lap bar to make sure we didn’t fly out as the wind rushed through our hair. After riding at least five times in a row, we’d sprint toward Lightning Loops, another roller coaster that flipped us upside down, or grasp on tight to the shoulder bar on the Freefall ride as we plummeted a few hundred feet to the ground. I had no fear at all of amusement rides, and I enjoyed the thrill every time. 

Image by Petra from Pixabay 

However, as I grew older, roller coasters became scarier, especially after having my son. Too many bad thoughts passed through my head. I couldn’t possibly ride without holding on for dear life while keeping my eyes tightly shut and screaming at the top of my lungs as my heart raced. What if the lap bar wasn’t tight enough on my legs? What if the coaster car got stuck at the top of the loop while I was upside down? What if I fell out and my husband, son, and stepsons had to go on without me?

As I started to get into writing and illustrating children’s books, I soon realized the parallels between riding roller coasters and publishing. There are so many ups and downs in this business. You can be full of confidence one day and completely doubt yourself the next. An agent can ask to see more of your work, then you don’t get “the call” for representation. An editor can tell you they love your manuscript and want to acquire it, only to find out later that they moved publishing houses where your manuscript will no longer fit on their list. When you finally get a book deal, you can feel rushed to get edits and illustrations done by the deadline, then find out the next week that the release date has been pushed back.  You can be published one year and then not get another contract for almost 10 years.  You could even sign a contract for a nonfiction book, like a biography, and have it ready to go to copyediting when a news story breaks that the subject of your book is enthralled in a controversy. This causes the publisher to consider canceling the book, then reconsider and ask you to rewrite the story as a fiction book. As a result, the illustrator may have to redraw some of the spreads, pushing the release date at least a year further out.

Illustration by: Angela Quezada Padron

Believe it or not, all of these issues happened to me over the last 18 years since I began writing and illustrating children’s books. But guess what - I’m still here! I have survived the roller coaster (so far) and I plan on continuing to ride. Why? Because of the thrill, the excitement, the joy, and the pride of being able to write a story for children. Writing a book is not an easy task, but you have to put in the work and take the risk if you want to be successful. You have to prepare yourself for the ups and downs that will happen. You may find your perfect agent the first time, or it may take you three or four times to discover the best match for you. You may only publish one book in your lifetime or you may publish several. You may publish early in life or it may take decades. Prepare yourself for this roller coaster ride by joining a critique group and being open minded to constructive feedback. Study mentor texts and their structures and varying formats. Attend conferences and workshops to learn about the industry and writing techniques. Then hold on tight and enjoy the ride, knowing that your book could help a child learn to read, enable a child to love reading, or inspire a child to take action in their community.  Whatever twists and turns you experience in the process, knowing that a child has chosen to read your book makes the ride all worth the risk.

Angela Quezada Padron is a Latina author-illustrator who spent her childhood days writing stories and doodling on the garage walls of her New Jersey home while enjoying summers visiting family in the Dominican Republic. She writes nonfiction, picture books, board books and middle grade novels, and she creates colorful, textured illustrations with diverse characters and heartwarming scenes. She has illustrated two trade books, “The Hero in You” with Albert Whitman & Co. and “My Body Belongs to Me” with Free Spirit Publishing, as well as a short story "Firefighter Mom" in Cricket Magazine. She was also chosen as a semi-finalist for the SCBWI Tomie dePaola Award in 2014. Angela is an avid seashells collector, Broadway musical enthusiast, sports nut, and admirer of the wonder of nature and engineering marvels. Her debut author/illustrator picture book bio, AS THE SEAS RISE: NICOLE HERNÁNDEZ HAMMER AND THE FIGHT FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE releases with Atheneum Books in 2024. Angela's fiction debut picture book will also release with Lee and Low Books in 2024. She is represented by Saritza Hernández at Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Learn more about Angela and view her portfolio at

1 comment:

Unknown said...

What an awesome comparison … would add that could apply to a lot of careers . I too , have experienced that roller coaster ride in one of my past companies .
Well done Angela , hold tight and keep your hands held high… like that famous actress said ….it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. !