Award-winning Author, Joan Marie Galat got her first big break as a twelve-year old. No, seriously. She was hired to write a weekly column in a local newspaper. She’s since gone on to publish more than ten books with six different publishing presses, including Scholastic Canada, and has learned to walk on stilts and juggle while reading to children. Really? In her own words…

I considered myself a writer early in life. When I was about nine years old, I started creating books, but didn’t get published until the age of 12 when I became a paid weekly newspaper columnist. After submitting a poem to a writing contest, an editor contacted me with an invitation to write. It was fun to come up with ideas and see my name in the paper, but the real reason I’ve always wanted to write was because I love to read so much. I wanted to turn my own ideas into books. It’s as fun and satisfying as I imagined.

I began to seriously apply myself to achieving the goal of having a book published about six years before a publisher showed interest. It was around nine years before I held that special first book in my hands. A number of things helped me cross over to the other side.

  1. Learning about the business of getting published by joining writing organizations.
  2. Networking with aspiring writers and published authors.
  3. Becoming a freelance writer of newspaper and magazine articles, which helped build:
    • writing discipline
    • the habit of generating ideas on a regular basis, and
    • writing credits to include in query letters to publishers.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received in your publishing journey?

As soon as you get a reject letter, send your submission to another publisher. My advice for writers: never submit your first draft.

Would you ever consider self-publishing – why?

It’s a tempting prospect because it can take years to go from a finished manuscript to seeing a book in print. I’ve resisted because self-published works are rarely reviewed and reviews are an important way for book buyers to learn about your work. Also, self-published titles are less frequently perceived as professional. While some people do work with editors and other industry experts to create a professional product, most do not. The electronic book market is particularly flooded with work that hasn’t gone through a vetting process. Also, I’m reluctant to take on all the roles of a publisher such as book design, art management, printing, distribution, and sales.

What are you currently working on?

In addition to the freelance writing and editing I do for corporate clients, I’m working on a new title in my Dot to Dot in the Sky children’s book series. These titles, for ages nine and up, explore the science of the night sky with the ancient myths and legends ancient cultures once told about the stars, constellations, and other night sky phenomena.

What’s something your fans may not know about you?

On school visits, I’ve promoted the virtues of reading and writing on stilts that make me nearly nine feet high. I connect reading to stilt walking through story and also juggle—a skill I make sure kids know I learned from reading a book. This allows me to reinforce the point that reading can lead to fun and adventure. It also demonstrates gravity and falling stars!

You can see a video of me talking books on stilts (or read an article) that appeared in the Edmonton Journal: Author spreads love of literature on stilts: article and video.