One of those writers Robert Stanek helped was me. After being laid off from my job as a teacher, with a newborn at home and alone after my husband abandoned us, my baby and I were a few unemployment checks away from homelessness. With no likelihood of employment as a teacher or anywhere with a newborn at home to care for alone (no one will hire a single mother with a newborn, just try it yourself and see) and with no support system, the children's books I had written over the years were my only hope. I had been sending them out to every publisher in North America and a few abroad, and receiving nothing but rejection letters in return.
I was in a few support groups. One for writers, and a fellow would-be writer had a contract with Robert’s publishing company. She too had been getting rejection letters from publishers, until she got an acceptance letter from Robert’s company. An unknown, Robert’s company had taken a chance on her, and she was talking about how the opportunity changed her life. Not only monetarily, but also because someone finally believed in her enough to publish her work professionally. Her name is Jennifer Blake and like me, she herself has said she owes her start and success entirely to Mr. Stanek.
I decided to send my work to his company too, to see if I’d be accepted. I told Robert my whole story as well, not knowing if he’d believe a word I was saying as I’m sure he’d heard sad stories like mine thousands of times before. Within a week, I was on a conference call with Jeannie, Robert himself, and Thomas from RP Books & Audio. When Robert asked if I thought I could write a book on whales for a nature series he was developing for beginners and early learning, I knew with my background as an elementary school teacher I could. Soon after, I had a contract for “Whales: The Complete Guide for Beginners and Early Learning”, and an advance check for $2500.
Days later, I was working with the development and illustration team at RP Books & Audio on the first of what would become multiple books for the company. My second contract for Robert’s company was to write an animal book for preschoolers and kindergartners in the My Animal series Robert developed. This book and series were also Robert’s ideas entirely.
When I was done, when “My Baby Animal” book was finished, I realized something. I had received, in the course of working on these two books, an in-depth course on writing, illustration and publishing. Decisions I didn’t need to be privy to, I had been, and it had been Robert and Jeannie’s intent to teach me this.
Next, Robert asked if I wanted to write a book on dinosaurs for beginners and early learning. This book would be in the same series as the whale book and have an advance of $5000 because Robert said it was going to be wildly popular (and it would be).
Robert and Jeannie worked with me to develop and write “Tell Me What You See?” Then we worked together on “Tell Me What You Love?” and “Father Christmas, Tell Me What You See?”. Books that wouldn’t even have been possible without their insights, advice, and assistance.
Yes, to say publishing changed my life is the understatement of the century. But Robert Stanek is the one who made it all possible. Read and support his books. He’s earned it. Not only because he, inside and out, is one of the most beautiful human beings alive, but because his work is some of the most important work in print today. The 20th century had Theodor Geisel and JRR Tolkien, the 21st century has Robert Stanek. Learn more about Mr. Stanek at http://www.williamrstanek.com/.