How I Felt Publishing My First Picture Book

Until this Spring I had no idea I would be writing a children’s picture book. My wife and I had recently moved to North Carolina and since I was mostly retired many of my days were filled with projects. One day I stopped and reflected on what was taking place… I was actually writing a story!

Richard McEwan, bookIt has been a joy to write the book and I was fortunate that Halo Publishing International accepted my first manuscript I had ever submitted to any publisher. The title turned out to be easy because the story revolves around our two dogs. The writing of the story was over a number of weeks as thoughts came to me and, other than writer’s block, it flowed pretty well.

I believe the book came together for a number of reasons:

(1) Our grandchildren: we moved to North Carolina to be near two of our three children and our grandchildren whose ages are 4 and under. Their love of books is more than evident whether being read to or pulling a book off the shelf to thumb through it by themselves, studying the illustrations or photography and relating the story.

(2) Our dogs: my wife and I have a great love for dogs in general and, specifically, for own. They are an integral part of our lives. Their antics lead to writing about them. Plus they are both foster dogs.

(3) Fostering dogs: my wife for years would pick up a stray dog and either find its owner or a new home. With this passion we became involved with the Animal Welfare League where we lived in Virginia. Over a five-year period we fostered about 50 dogs at our home until each was adopted. The dogs came to us via many sources including AWL, County Pound, and, of course, strays picked up by my wife!

(4) Children learning: picture books are a great vehicle to convey a message even before a child can read. As with this story, it is so important to instill in children at a young age the importance of caring for pets…I believe it is the first step in caring for others.

Since this is my first book I had not given much thought to the tense it should be written in…present. I had originally written it in the past tense thus relating a story that had already occurred rather than letting the story unfold thus holding a child’s attention.

I have nothing but praise for my editor for she saw the potential in my manuscript but knew it needed work. At first, I thought she had wounded my “child” or maybe, more honestly, wounded me. I then realized her input made the story a better read. I believe the level of trust an author has in an editor is the most important element in the author/editor relationship followed closely by the author’s willingness to be open to the editor’s input. If an author is willing to take a leap of faith at the beginning of the relationship, it will only get stronger over time.
The best advice I can give is, “Don’t give up!” Don’t put your partially written book back in the drawer or in that file folder you have had for years. Make a commitment to yourself that this is important and set aside the time. Having a book in your hands is like having a piece of art in your hands…you are holding, touching something that you as an author created. It gives you a tangible, personal connection to the reader.

Think about the feeling of accomplishment you will have when you have your book in your hands for the first time or see your book on the shelf of your local book store or on Amazon. It’s powerful and rewarding!

Richard McEwan

Richard McEwan lives with his wife, Christie, and their two dogs, Buddy and River, one cat named Oyster and many photos of foster dogs. The two fostered about 50 dogs during a span of 5 years volunteering with the Animal Welfare League in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Together, McEwan and his wife, have three children and four grandchildren.
Visit his website at and follow him on Facebook


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