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Ana Siqueira On The 5 Things You Need To Be A Successful Author or Writer

An Interview With Kristin Marquet

Some writers and authors have a knack for using language that can really move people. Some writers and authors have been able to influence millions with their words alone. What does it take to become an effective and successful author or writer?

In this interview series, called “5 Things You Need To Be A Successful Author or Writer”, we are talking to successful authors and writers who can share lessons from their experience.

As part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ana Siqueira.

Ana Siqueira is a Spanish-language elementary teacher, an award-winning Brazilian children’s author, and a published author in the Foreign Language educational market. Her debut picture book is BELLA’S RECIPE FOR DISASTER/SUCCESS (Beaming Books, 2021). Her forthcoming books are IF YOUR BABYSITTER IS A BRUJA/ CUANDO TU NIÑERA ES UNA BRUJA (SimonKids,2022), ABUELA’S SUPER CAPA/LA SUPER CAPA DE ABUELA (HarperCollins 2023) — two-book deal auction, ROOM IN MAMI’S CORAZON (HarperCollins 2024) and some others that can’t be announced yet.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I started writing in Brazil, a long, long time ago. I had two books published when I was in my 20s: A LUA NAMORADEIRA and PEDRO, O GRANDE. But, right after getting my books published, I came to the United States. Here, I stopped writing. I had two young kids, and I was working and getting my degree.

In 2018, as requested by my second-graders students, I wrote a story based on this viral video called The Duck Song. I wrote it in Spanish, and we had a blast. I asked the song writer, Bryant Oden, to use this song to write my book, EL PATO QUIERE UVAS. I submitted this story to Teacher’s Discovery and on the same day they replied. They wanted to publish it. The illustrator is Adriana Cifuentes.

After this event, I got motivated to go back to writing, after a pause of over 20 years.

I haven’t stopped writing since then.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

For me, getting my story ABUELA’S SUPER CAPA to go to auction was surprising. I had sold two books. My agent was about to submit a different story when I submitted my revised version of Abuela’s Super Capa. She loved it and said, “Let’s submit this one.”

I didn’t think this story was very marketable since it was about grieving. But the book got three offers from three Big-5 publishers. I couldn’t believe it.
The experience was exciting, but overwhelming. Which publisher should I pick? Which editor? They sent me their visions, their marketing plans, their offers. And it was very tough choosing one.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming a writer? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story that other aspiring writers can learn from?

For me, 2021 was a challenging year. I couldn’t submit a story until October. So, I sold four books in 2020, and no books in 2021. Why did that happen? First, because of my two-book sales contract, I had to wait for my publisher, HarperCollins, to pick their second book. My editor passed on the first one. Then, she loved the second one, but she requested a Revise and Resubmit (R&R). And when she finally accepted the second book, we had to wait for the contract to be signed, which took over five months.

Then… More drama. My agent quitted agenting because of personal and professional reasons. I got a new agent, and we submitted in October. In January, I got an offer for my book number five.

Aspiring writers, publishing life can be tough. One year, you can sell a lot. And then no sales in the next. Then, more sales. Then, slow again. Don’t quit. When you are in your dark moment, a light will shine. Work hard and be prepared. You never know when an opportunity will knock at your door.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

A big mistake is believing your first draft is amazing and ready to be submitted. So, I did that. A published writer was giving good deals on critiques. I jumped right in with my first manuscript ever, after my twenty-year pause. I sent it to her and imagined her reply: You are so talented. What a wonderful story! Send it now to the publishers.

But… Nope. She, in a very kind, but honest way, told me my story was too episodic. Guess what? I didn’t even know what that meant, so I wrote her back trying to defend my story and telling her my story had many adventures because I was a very creative writer. Oh, no! You didn’t. Yes, I did.

Not only I submitted a story too soon, but I also defended myself. That’s a big NO, NO!!!

When you get feedback, don’t explain, or defend yourself. Read it, let it sink in, and then choose what to do. I try distinct suggestions to see if I like it or not. Sometimes, the feedback doesn’t resonate with me, and I don’t even try. Sometimes, I love it and I revise my story. Lesson Number 1: It takes a while for you to get a manuscript ready to submit. No doctor can operate before studying and training for a long time, right?

In your opinion, were you a “natural born writer” or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?

We all share our stories with others, so we are all natural storytellers. But, as with anything else, you must study, practice, and repeat to get better. During 2019, I read many craft books, watched webinars, and read about twenty-five picture books per day. I joined six critique groups. You might have a talent, but you must polish it. You might think you don’t have a talent, but you can learn and get there if you work hard.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I love challenges. So, after writing many, many picture books, I’m venturing to learn how to write Chapter Books and Graphic Novels. I wrote a Graphic Novel to Capstone called BOITATA THE FIRE SNAKE–A BRAZILIAN GRAPHIC FOLKTALE. I loved writing about a Brazilian folktale and can’t wait to see the illustrations. Also, my seven-year-old grandson and I are working on a graphic novel together. He has amazing ideas. Our graphic novel, still in progress, has funny villain characters such as HamMan and TofuChica. We laugh so much getting ideas for this story. I hope it gets published and makes other children laugh too. Oh, and the superhero is Luka, my grandson. Will he be able to defeat these villains from Planet MeaniHan?

Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Be A Successful Author or Writer”? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Learn, study, revise, and repeat.–I wrote over ten versions of my debut picture book: Bella’s Recipe for Success. I revised the last version over ten times, too.

2. Be flexible and open-minded. You will receive feedback that will make you cry. After a few days, reconsider and maybe try, just for the sake of trying, writing a new version of your story. You never know. You might end up loving it. For my second book, IF YOUR BABYSITTER IS A BRUJA (Simon & Schuster -Art by Irena Freitas), I got feedback to change the climax of the story. I thought this feedback made little sense. But I tried and loved it. And I sold this book.

3. Write as much as you can/ Don’t get stuck in one story. Your writing portfolio is just like a store. If you only have one product, the buyers might not like it. But if you have a variety, then someone will love one of your masterpieces. For example, I write picture books, but to expand my store and opportunities, I am now also learning how to write Chapter Books and Graphic Novels. I also write one picture book manuscript per month. That way, I could always have stories to revise and submit when needed. And the more you write, the better you get.

4. Read a lot… Really a lot. I used to read 25 picture books and one chapter book per day. Now, I’m reading chapter books and graphic novels.

5. I always hear from my critique partners I have a unique author’s voice. Voice is hard to define. It’s basically how you write your story — the tone, the humor, the word choices, the sentence structure, etc. My voice is sassy, heartfelt, and funny (I hope). Write, write, write until you can understand what voice is and find your unique voice.

6. I love humor. The market is open for different books. You don’t have to write humor, but try finding your thing, and working on it. Are you lyrical? Does your story have rhythm? Is your story full of emotions?

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e., perseverance, discipline, play, craft study). Can you share a story or example?

Perseverance and discipline are a must.

Perseverance– Many writers take years to get an opportunity and to get a door open for them. But if writing is what you love, don’t quit. One day, someone will love your story and then… Voila! Your stories will help and inspire others.

Discipline–I work full time, but I dedicate at least one hour per day to write, plus one hour per day to read or critique manuscripts. If you take your writing seriously and consider it a job, you will learn and write enough. Sometimes we get burned out. Some days, we are not feeling up to it. It’s okay to take a break when needed.

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

I get inspired by picture books because they say so much in few words and the art complements the story beautifully. I love knowing little ones will giggle and get inspired by my stories.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

My motto is–We’re all the same, despite our differences. My movement would be–Foster Empathy through Books. We can do that at schools, libraries, and even our houses. Children should learn about other cultures, other ways of life, other opinions, and perspectives. We all should learn we are all more similar than different.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can learn more about Ana by following her.



Instagram —

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!



In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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