Identify Obstacles to Find Success

What are the obstacles standing in the way of your success? Success can come in many different ways in children's publishing. Are you identifying what you want your success to look like? That can help you identify your obstacles so that you can overcome them. 

Storyteller Academy Community Manager Cindy Leopold-Ritsko asked some of our Storyteller Academy students and instructors to share how they've overcome obstacles to find success. We hope you enjoy hearing from them.

Success Strategies from Nadia Salomon:​

  • Every little step counts!
    • Thinking about a story
    • Drafting a story
    • Revising
    • Getting it critiqued
    • Completing your final edits
  • Never take “no” for an answer.
Obstacle: Getting told “no” by editors.
Win: Completing final edits for her picture book.

Success Strategies from Bonnie Kelso:

  • Learn how to manage your expectations.
  • Connect with others.
  • Pounce on opportunities as they appear on your path.

Obstacle: Breast cancer
Win: Publishing deal

Success Strategies from Tim McCanna

  • Finish that first draft.
  • Learn to pace yourself.
  • Read tons of picture books.
  • Become an active member of the kidlit community.
  • Give back by volunteering and guiding people down their own paths.
Obstacle: Had no idea how to make a picture book
Win: Making classes and mentoring critique groups for Storyteller Academy

Success Strategies from Kathy Halsey

  • Write seriously.
  • Share information.
  • Connect people.
  • Help other people learn new things and watch them grow.
  • Think about how you can use your strengths to help others.

Success Strategies from Isabella Kung

  • Make time for your own stories.
  • Teaching others makes you break down your own processes.
  • It's lovely to connect and nurture others with the same passion and interests.
  • It's good to give to others in the community.
Obstacle: Putting her own stories on the back burner for other jobs
Win: Two new board books published by Candlewick and two picture books with Orchard Books/Scholastic

Success Strategies from Shannon Anderson

  • Go to conferences.
  • Take online classes.
  • Help kids through books.
  • Giving is a part of success. 
  • Create awesome books. 
  • Support each other to create a wonderful community.
Obstacle: Limited time as a school teacher
Win: Multiple book deals, school visits, and paid teaching opportunities

Find Your Own Success Story 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What would success look like for me? (It's okay to have more than one answer.)
  2. Which of the above answers should I focus on to get started?
  3. ​Which obstacles are standing in my way?
  4. How will I overcome those obstacles? (It can be helpful to journal about this one. It's amazing how answers come when I'm journaling about a problem.)
  5. Do I have a recent win that I can celebrate? (Completing this exercise could be a win!)

We hope all of these stories help you figure out how you want to be successful, identify the obstacles in the way, and eventually overcome those obstacles. Like Nadia said in the beginning: Every little step counts! Make sure you celebrate all of your wins along the way. Thanks for reading!

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Myrna Foster
Myrna Foster

Myrna Foster writes and edits content for Storyteller Academy and the WriteRiders Newsletter for SCBWI Nevada. She has spent a lot of time teaching and coaching children, including five years as a preschool teacher. She's also worked as a journalist, and Highlights High Five has published six of her poems.

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