Susan Westwood – I used to make up stories for my grandchildren and that is when I decided to submit one of my stories

Before I became a published author, I was an administrator for many years in the care industry. At the age of 40, I decided to learn sign language and after four years I qualified in level four signed communication and interpreting. I then went on to do a teaching qualification to enable me to teach sign language.


I have always enjoyed writing which again, is a means of communicating. I think there is something very special about the written word. When I am writing a birthday card I always start with ‘Dear’. I much prefer writing a letter to email or text but, unfortunately, handwritten communication is a thing of the past. I think it is lovely when you see something like a grandmother’s handwritten recipes in a cookbook or a postcard from someone in combat from many years ago.


When I retired, I used to make up stories for my grandchildren and that is when I decided to submit one of my stories for publication.


By the time I had submitted the first manuscript, I had completed eleven other manuscripts of animal stories for children. Olympia Publishers liked my submission but, Mr Houghton (Executive Editor) asked if I could make it more substantial so, between us we decided to combine three of my other animal stories to make the finished manuscript’. This worked really well and I was offered an author contributory contract.


I did lots of research about publishers and what I discovered is that an ‘author contributory contract’ is the norm nowadays, unless of course, you are already famous in another field like for instance, David Walliams. Publishing Houses would be at great risk if they offered all unknown authors an advance for their work. I also learned not to write as I speak but, to write as the person listening to the story.


It can take up to twelve months from start to finish as your manuscript goes through the publishing process but, it is lovely being part of the different steps with your input being valued. I have to say that I have been very fortunate in not having my work rejected however, it is important to remember that the one who never fails, never tries.


If I were to offer any advice to someone who enjoys writing I would say, write first just for the pleasure of it then, ask a friend to read it and proceed from there.


Although my manuscripts are mainly dialogue, I found them fairly straightforward, once I had decided which animals, their names and their habitats. I handwrite them first in pencil. The most time-consuming part is editing your manuscripts once you have them on a word document. I will edit the same manuscript every other day until I am happy, usually after the third editing session.


Susan has recently published, Lev and the Fairy Penguins with Olympia Publishers, here!


26 Jan 2022