Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A regular contributor for Writer2Writer, her articles focus on increasing productivity through time management and organization. A founding member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens.
Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Little Shepherd is her first children’s book. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two young daughters. She also has a son who is married.
Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Cheryl. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
The first completed manuscript I wrote was titled, The Sisterhood. It tells the story of three sisters who grew up as rivals, but who are forced to pull together when the youngest sister is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. I co-wrote it with my sister. We’re hoping to make time to edit it and see it published one day.
Q: For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?
Little Shepherd was accepted by the first publishing house I submitted it to. I performed market research to help me know what kinds of books they were publishing, reading and reviewing several Guardian Angel Publishing titles, before submitting my manuscript to them.
Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
While Little Shepherd was not rejected, I did experience rejection as a writer of magazine articles. I put together articles on parenting, women’s health issues, and gardening, but national magazines weren’t biting.
I think the fastest rejection came within a week of me submitting my query. That one stung for a bit.
Little Shepherd was released by Guardian Angel Publishing (GAP). It is a small press owned and operated by Lynda S. Burch. I learned about GAP when one of their authors queried me for a book review. I was impressed by the total package: imaginative storytelling, stunning artwork, and a quality book that all these years later is still in one piece after many hands have flipped its pages. I began seeking out titles from other GAP authors to review and never found a bad apple in the basket.
While the idea for Little Shepherd came to me earlier than my introduction to GAP, when I sat down to write my story, I thought of everything I liked about GAP’s books and wrote it in that fashion. The polished version of the manuscript was accepted by Guardian Angel Publishing after some additional edits.
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
On top of the world, over the moon, you know the regular type of feelings I bet most first time authors experience. I had dreamed of being a writer since childhood and now my dream was coming true.
Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
You mean other than emailing everyone I know, tweeting, and posting on Facebook about it? I feel so bad for my family and friends because I’m not a shy author. I work in the online world, so most of my promotional efforts have been online. I changed up my website, posted announcements on all my blogs, started a new blog just for the book, and began planning my two-and-a-half month virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book.
I also have local events planned in October and November.
Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
The only thing I would change is that I would try to find a way to have done this ten years ago. My lifestyle didn’t really allow for that at the time. I was newly married, working fulltime, with a teenager at home and baby on the way.
Other than that, I’m happy with how things turned out.
Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
I have a manuscript I am hoping to pitch to a publisher at this year’s Muse Online Writers Conference and I also have another work in progress about twelve chapters in. I’m waiting to hear back from a client on a ghostwriting project too, so I’ll be busy.
I’ve spent time honing my craft by participating in critique groups. Blogging regularly helps me to be a better self-editor, though I still edit others’ work better than my own. If this ghostwriting project comes to fruition it will be the first time I’ve tackled something of this nature, but I hope that will lead to additional work.
Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
I don’t know that I could have speed things up. I spent many years as a single parent and worked fulltime until 2004 when I quit to stay home with the children and tried to carve out a writing career. Perhaps I could have been a bit more persistent in those earlier years, but my girls were little and I had to focus on them. Now that they are in school during the day, I feel okay with spending that time writing and promoting my virtual book tour clients.
As for mistakes, when I began pitching to magazine markets I wasn’t as diligent in my market research as I am now.
Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
I am sitting on two panels at the Write Angles Conference in October. Along with several others, I’ll be discussing how to launch your book into cyberspace and how to make time to write.
Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
I love my job as a virtual book tour coordinator for Pump Up Your Book. It has allowed me to find some fabulous authors I might never have heard of otherwise. Many of my clients have become good friends.
When I was a child I wanted to be a teacher or a writer. As a mom I’ll always be a teacher, and I’m also a writer, so I feel blessed.
Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
Right now I have the best of both worlds, so I’m happy.
Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?
Still promoting great books online and hopefully having several more books with my name on them available for sale.
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
If God has graced you with the gift of words, you should do your best to develop that gift and look for opportunities to use it. It requires discipline to carve out time for writing amongst your other responsibilities, but if you feel called to do it, don’t ignore it. Set goals and work hard to achieve them. If it’s meant to be, it will happen.