Strange how things interconnect in this business. Some time ago I discovered diaries and pictures put together by my father when he was a soldier in Africa during the Second World War. They told a fascinating story of his life at that time, and I saw the potential for illustrated articles, maybe even a book.
Military history magazines I approached failed to show interest, so I tried Best of British, which uses articles about the 1940s. They bought a feature. With a small rewrite to show things from a different angle, so too did a magazine called Discover Your History.
So when the editor of that magazine left and went to work for Pen and Sword, who publish books on military history, I had the ideal contact to whom I pitched a book, based on a much enlarged version of my African article. Unfortunately it was rejected. But hold that thought.
Some while later I wrote and illustrated an article on Kent which sold to This England. In my voucher copy of that magazine I came across a review for a book on vintage steam machinery by an author I know. That prompted me to look at his website where I found another of his books was concerned with military history, published by a company called Whittle Books.
I Googled that publisher to see what they were looking for and discovered that among their titles was one that dealt with a theme similar to, but not the same as, my African one. So I pitched my previously rejected idea to them. Two weeks later, after a short exchange of emails, I had a contract to write and illustrate a new book. It's called Tales From the Forgotten Front, and it's out now.
So many times, this business proves to be all about connections – and a little perseverance.