It's always a pleasure to share info with other writers and help where it's possible.
I'm the SCBWI coordinator for Queensland, Australia, and on committees of the Children's Book Council, Book Links and other organisations.
I've attempted picture books without success (though with all the reading I've done and listening to experts, I'm sure I know what's needed), had books published on calligraphy by Allen and Unwin and Harper Collins and recently was a co-author of '101 Things To Do Before You Grow Up' for Hinkler. This resulted from asking an editor on www.jacketflap.com
for 'friendship'. Along with acceptance, I was asked if I would be interested in considering a project. Life on the net and social networking pays off!
I've another calligraphy book due to be published in August 2010. These last two will be sold worldwide.
When I sent material the publisher, I addressed the package in calligraphy. They said they were thinking of publishing a calligraphy and would I send a proposal. The rest is now history.
None of my books nor my agent representation have come through traditional submission processes.
My first book was initially offered by book packagers to a shop-owning friend, whose premises they entered by chance to purchase a pen and then discovered her expertise. She said she didn't have time to write what they wanted, but suggested they contact me. Expertise and friendship pays, too.
I went to a talk given by the agent. She listed all the things she didn't represent - including 'how-to' books. We chatted afterwards. I said, 'Well I write 'how-to' books...' presuming she'd have no interest in what I do. In fact, she's a lover of paper and many of the crafts I indulge in, and after another meeting and discussing what I plan to write in the future, we are now a team. She negotiated my recent contract and obtained a far far better deal, double what I was initially offered. I recommend sending to agents, not publishers, until you have run out.
She has several YA authors in her stable, and my YA will hopefully be completed this year. I pitched it to a panel of editors at the SCBWI conference in Australia, and two have showed great interest in reading it when it's complete.
Meeting editors and book people at SCBWI conferences and the like gives you an advantage. You need to craft special stories, but your work will be read with extra interest and a presumption that you will probably have written something of quality and be nice person to work with - someone who will be prepared to rewrite and consider suggestions.
If you can't go to conferences, meet professionals at book launches and other events. Even people like sales reps are powerful people, and they may hold the key to your book being accepted. Most books are considered at an acquisition meeting at a publishing house. The sales reps will be included. If they don't think they can sell a book, it won't be published. All present have to agree (though it will be the proposing editor who gets the blame if it bombs).
Hope the words flow for all,