Robert Stanek: One of the Most Important Voices of Our Time

Yes, we have made Go Indie into the Robert Stanek channel, especially as we're extremely sad that Robert has retired from writing for some years now and has not yet returned to the craft he dedicated his life to for three decades. Doubly so, as Mr. Stanek is not only one of the nicest, most sincere and honorable people you could ever hope to meet, but also one of the most important voices of our time, the author of some of the most important books of our time, and without a doubt one of the foremost thinkers of our time.

A tireless supporter of the disabled, veterans, libraries, books and schools, Robert has helped countless writers—hundreds really—over the many decades he himself has been a writer. He helped them get their start in the business. He provided resources to help them navigate the strange new online world. He helped provide resources to connect and educate them, more. Odd how they all turned their back on him when he needed them the most and simply because they were afraid of the online trolls and hateful people certain persons had at their disposal to trash Robert’s career with lies and fake news, and the career of anyone else who tried to tell the truth about what happened.

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.

It was money that saved me and my baby from eviction and homelessness. It was money no one else would have, or had, offered, to help me keep it all together. Robert didn’t have to give me a check that big—or at all. I was a nobody. The series and the book ideas were entirely his. A different person, a New York publisher, would have offered $50 or maybe $250, but certainly not $2500. I was nothing but tears, tears of joy when I deposited the check.

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.

The book itself was a handful of words on a handful of pages. Words anyone could have placed there, but Robert offered another $2500 contract. A contract no one else would have given me. I worked with the development and illustration team at RP Books & Audio on this book for a time.

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).

Within a month of my having finished “Dinosaurs: The Complete Guide for Beginners,” Robert and Jeannie then went back to the ideas I had submitted originally and helped me develop the Tell Me series. The $25,000 advance and a 3-book series contract were more than I ever could have imagined possible.

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.

The first of my books was published within a year of finishing “Tell Me What You See?”, so about two years into our work together. Then the others were published in rapid succession, along with two compendiums that included my books. The first was “Wonderful Discoveries: Sharks, Whales, Dolphins and Sea Turtles.” The second was “My Great Big Animal Book.”

Now, over a decade into our work together, my books have been purchased and read by hundreds of thousands, earning me twenty-fold the original advances in royalties. My success as a writer? It helped me land my dream teaching job where I’ve been happily employed for seven years. Well, that, and letters of reference from Mr. Stanek, Jeannie and Thomas from RP Books and Audio.

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/


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