Laurenne Sala is no stranger to rejection.
The Los Angeles resident has written a number of manuscripts which didn’t convince publishers to take a chance on her. A random gig for a baby carrier company changed her fortunes.
Turns out you don’t have to be a parent to tap into the essentials of motherhood.
Sala created a poem for Boba baby carriers about what it means to be a mom. The poem, and the accompanying video, went viral. The Facebook shares reached 40,000 in the first week alone.
“That video made tons of moms cry,” she says.
That convinced HarperCollins, a publisher which had previously rejected Sala’s work, to ask her to pen a children’s book on the theme. That’s what social media, and asking the right questions, can do for a writer.
“Everyone asked me how I was able to do it without being a mother. I have a mom and a family that’s really loving,” Sala says. “I went and interviewed everyone in my family about the essence of being a mother …. They told me very honest stuff.”
That led to a major book publisher pairing Sala with “Fancy Nancy” illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser to create “You Made Me a Mother.” The book, released earlier this month, focuses on the emotional moments that speak to a mom while she’s caring for a child.
She did have an advantage on the social media front. She previously worked at BuzzFeed, a site renowned for its viral content. She learned why people share material online – the content in question reveals something about the reader.
Sales so far have been brisk at Amazon.com, even though Sala says HarperCollins will be pushing the book harder closer to Mother’s Day.
For writers who haven’t gotten their big break yet, Sala advises patience. It also helps to take something positive out of bad news.
“Think of rejection as actually helping you,” she says. The manuscripts she wrote over the years may not have been ready for publication. “Rejection can give you another way to look at your work. It can help you redo it and make it into something better.”
One of Sala’s passion projects beyond writing is Taboo Tales, now in its sixth year. The theatrical showcase, held at the Groundlings Theaters, encourages people to let just about anything off their chests.
“I’m all about talking about things that shouldn’t be talked about in public,” she says, adding that the process can help people heal as a result.
The “Mother” picture book won’t be Sala’s final word on parenting. She has a version of the book from a father’s perspective already written. And follow-up editions could aim at more diverse families.
“I wanna make as many as possible … I wanna make all these people cry,” she says.
Christian Toto is a freelance writer and editor of HollywoodInToto.com.