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Lellie Lopter



Date of Success:

CYA Success – (despite rejection)


Lellie Lopter is an award-winning fictional writer and illustrator who probably lives in Australia. She has a tendency towards telling stories and is definitely not living a secret life as a boring academic. Lellie may or may not be addicted to peppermint tea. If Lellie Lopter really was a boring academic, she would probably be called Kellie and she might have spent almost a decade as a bookseller and bookstore manager before she become a university lecture in Business, Management, Marketing, Human Resources, Statistics, Sustainability and Entrepreneurship. She may also be completing a PhD in public value while she spends her free time daydreaming of a picture books and perfect worlds.



How the CYA Conference helped me.

The 2023 CYA Conference was the first conference I had attended after decided to take writing for children seriously (again). I dusted off a manuscript that had been sitting on a thumb drive in a drawer for over a decade. The manuscript had won the Marshall Allan Hills Writing Competition in 2011. Even though it had won the competition, Jelli-Beanz who hosted the competition decided not to publish it because of its content. I put the story in a draw and writing on the shelf until the stars finally aligned and I was able to attend the 2023 CYA conference online.

I had an assessment with agent Sarah McKenzie and publisher Michelle Madden. Both rejected my manuscript, but they provided such positive feedback and encouragement about my writing and my vision for the book.

One assessor said they wouldn’t change a thing about my manuscript, but they just couldn’t publish it. The other said the story was perfect but unpublishable. Both assessors said there was a real need for my book, and they encouraged me to try and find a way to get it into the hands of people who need it. Rather than be disheartened by the rejections, I took on board their feedback and considered self-publishing.

Through the CYA conference Tina Clark provide me with some helpful advice on not being afraid to reach out to people in the Kid Lit Community. With Tina’s encouragements, I connected with Julie M Miller (Award winning author of Remember: Lest We forget, and Triple Zero Heroes). Julie very generously agreed to meet me online and she provide me with some ideas about how I could connect with my chosen charity and how I might consider getting other people involved in the project.

From the date of my assessment to the date of publication it took just 72 days. During this time, I had undergone major surgery and was confined to bed for 8 weeks. From my bed I recruited illustrators from all over the world, connected with Red Nose Australia to set up the ongoing charitable donations of 100% of the profits, completed the layout and design of the book, set it up for international sales and created an accompanying video that is available immediately and for free whenever a family needs it. The book and video of ‘My Brother Born Sleeping’ has now helped over 500 families tackle the difficult conversation of pregnancy and infant loss with siblings. Without the connections I made from the Kid Lit community at the CYA conference, and without the kindness of the assessors who rejected my manuscript, I would never have had the confidence to undertake this project and this book wouldn’t exist.

You can watch ‘My Brother, Born Sleeping’ for free here: My Brother Born Sleeping by Lellie Lopter for Red Nose Stillbirth Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness ( Sensitive Content)

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