WAITING

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Waiting for responses can be so hard. In writing, it can be unBEARable (yeah, I just did that).

Why you ask? Well, we send our work off to an agent, editor, publishing company, somewhere, and we wait for a response. We HOPE for a “Yes! You’re work is incredible!” But we know the reality is we aren’t going to always hear that. In fact it can be quite rare. Many times, as I’ve personally discovered, and many writers have mentioned it happening to them, we NEVER hear back- not even a form rejection.

Let me give you some stats that I have over the past year from a picture book manuscript that went through a mentorship at Highlights Foundation, and left in sparking condition:

Sent to 35 agents, editors, small presses, and mentor/fellowships.

16 said no - 15 form rejections and 1 loved it but had to pass

13 no’s because of time, meaning they never replied, even after the three month nudge reminder

6 I am waiting to hear from

1 Revise and resubmit (I’ll be sending a friendly nudge soon)

That’s just ONE manuscript. There were to other PB MSs I sent out to a couple agents, but were either rejected or heard nothing. I did stop sending them after some critiques came back with the same issues. It also does not count the poems- single, groups, and chapbooks- that I’ve had rejected, as well as a couple short stories in the past year.

All told, I’ve had 35 rejections, and waiting to hear from 14.

It’s disheartening seeing those number. I was disheartened counting them. Twice. To make sure they are accurate.

The 29 that have said No to the one PB make me want to give up on it. It’s polished. It’s undergone some changes since April as two editors mentioned the same flaw, and both said how to fix it. One is whom I’m waiting for.

It makes you want to quit.

But, when you love something, and you believe in your work, you can’t. Ever.

So, you don’t. You keep at it and you just. Keep. Writing. And revising. And revising. And rev (okay, you get the point). And YOU SUBMIT AGAIN AND AGAIN!

Tomorrow is a big day.

It’s the reveal of a mentorship program for PB writers from #PBChat. The process of applying was incredible. Regardless of the outcome, it was a thought provoking application to fill out, one that has helped to push me along, and get me back into a writing groove (Even on here!). Tomorrow several PB authors (possible chapter book authors as one mentor was accepting them as well!).

I’ll just have to let you know.

But, for now, we’ll just have to wait.

How do you deal with waiting or with rejections? Let us know!

Rip Van Winkle

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Geez, has it been 20 years already? I didn’t think it’d been that long since I last posted. Now, my beard is even better than Dumbledore’s ever was!

Okay, so neither were true. It’s just felt like 20 years, and I can’t grow a beard past a few months because, well, itchy.

I flat out haven’t posted because the motivation hasn’t been there to write posts. Or write. I’ve been doing some minor tweaking of things, but no major overhauls.

I did get a revise and resubmit (my second ever!) and a really positive rejection back in April. I did resubmit, plus submitting the MS to a couple agents as well. I’m still in the waiting game, but it may be time to put this MS on the shelf for a while, despite the positives I’ve gotten on it from many. Maybe it’s just not good enough. I have been submitting it since the end of Highlights Foundation Summer Camp last year. I think a year of rejections may be enough for one MS for a while.

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Now to figure out what to work on next…

Keep Going

You love writing.  

I love writing. 

I love creating stories, their characters, their worlds, whether they’ll ever get read by anyone else or not. 

I have so many ideas swirling around my head, so many more spewed out onto digital paper, both for children, and adults.

Picture books are my absolute favorite. 

        No matter how many rejections you get, keep going. 

        No matter how many rejections you get, keep going. 

They’re where I want my writing to be focused, and where my writing is focused. 

I recently sent out my polished PB MS to another half dozen agents a couple days ago, already getting one form rejection. I wasn’t disheartened.  It was actually kinda nice to get a response, positive or negative, considering half of my ‘No’ responses from agents and small publishers to this MS are because of time, rather than an actual response, even with a friendly nudge after four months. 

But this means more overall. Once it hits a certain number, I wonder if it’s the MS, and that it needs some new eyes on it.

Enter Eastern Pennsylvania Society for Children's Books Writers and Illustrators (hereforth called EPA SCBWI- I’m hoping why is obvious).

We have our annual conference coming up in April, from the 12th to the 14th. Part of the experience is being able to submit a manuscript/ first pages/ portfolio for critiquing for a lower than usual price something like this would cost. 

                    You know you can’t stop chasing.

                    You know you can’t stop chasing.

I have two that I love, that I think are ready to submit- one that I have submitted many times, and one tht has gone out only a few times. It was time to get new eyes on Number One, but I thought why not get another pair of eyes on Number Two, while sending Number Three in for addition to the critique group option. Number Three is the next one I want to have submission ready should One or Two garner interest and an agent/ editor ask for more submission ready work.

Despite the No responses, and feeling like I have two manuscripts submission ready, and a third close-ish, you need to keep going.  If this is something you LOVE to do, then you can’t stop. If you have a dream, any dream, you have to chase it. That’s what life is for. Chasing your dreams- no, achieving your dreams.

So, no matter what it is, whatever it is you want to do, chase after it, keep going.

                                                          This one, just because it’s funny. 

                                                          This one, just because it’s funny. 

Failing

A big part of being a writer is rejection. You have to have a thick skin to take rejection for your entire career.  I haven’t experienced the lousy ratings part of rejection from book reviewers as I haven’t had anything published outside of two self-published books (no longer available). I didn’t have any negative ratings on them, which was nice, but also only had a handful on each. 

The rejection I want to write about is having manuscripts rejected...again, and again, and again... 

I have these stories that I’ve worked on for years- literally for two of them- three years for one, five years for the other. I have them at a point where readers and critique partners have said, “They’re ready.” Two words I’ve wanted to hear for years, and in a span of two months, I heard it twice for two different manuscripts. 

The next step is sending it out to the world- agents and publishing companies that accept unsolicited submission. That’s what I’ve been doing since August. 

I’ve sent then out to twenty-three agents and small presses over that time.  Some are still within the time frame of auto rejection based on time passed. But, thirteen were a ‘no’ because of outright rejection, or because of hearing nothing but crickets, even after a friendly poke.

I’ve been doing okay with them. One made me laugh because I got rejected within hours, and another within four days, including Christmas.

But a recent one got me more that the others. 

It wasn’t an agent, and it wasn’t a publisher. This one was for a contest that would have helped improve a third manuscript that is ‘close’ to being ready to send off to the world. There were sixteen mentors, and 500 people submitted to them. I thought my chances were good, I thought I would be one of the winners this time.

But I wasn’t. 

It hit me harder than I thought. And I feel like I’m failing.  Are my stories not good enough? Am I getting too old to start? 

That’s where I’m at.  

I’m happy as hell for those who won, and I can’t wait to hear about their journeys. But I’m jealous, too. 

Am I a failure? No. Just rejected.  Rejection is temporary.  And rejection is a stepping stone to lift yourself higher, to boost you to work harder, and pushes you to get yourself out there even more.  Find more critique partners, send to more agents and publishers, write more. 

Failure is only permanent when you give up. That, I will not do. 

REJECTED!

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Rejects. No. Pass. Whatever you call them, you’ll get lots.  That’s all part of being a writer.  Every writer has a file of their rejections. Well, at least I do.  I have a real one, for physical rejections, and a virtual one, for e-mail rejections.  Plus another one on Submittable.  I guess that’s a double up on the virtual rejections.

How do you handle them? That’s personal. Not as in, “I’m not telling you!” But as in how we handle the experience. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had three. Not just rejections, but three different reactions to the 1,256 MSs I’d sent out in early August. Hear they are, in order of preference:

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1. NO!  YOUR WORK SUCKS!  WHY ARE YOU EVEN DOING THIS ANYMORE!

I had this reaction after my mentor had recommended a small publishing house for my picture book manuscript, I sent it out, and got a rejection.  I’d even included the proper postage to get the MS back, and they didn’t send it back. Just the rejection form in an envelope with three stamps (I only used two to sent it out with the SASE).  This one hurt.  A lot. But you have to move on, and I did after some sulking and pondering why I’m even doing this.  Rationalizing it helped: they accept 40/20,000 titles a year. Odds are not in your favor. 

2. Okay, I have it out with a few other agents I carefully research, this just wasn’t the right agent.

This is my reaction for most of my rejections.  I have two strong stories, one of which I’ve sent out to nine agents, and I have seven or eight others waiting to send it to if it gets passed on by all of them.  I’m still waiting to hear from six (I think...).

3. HAH!

I had this on Saturday.  I sent it out around 9:30 A.M., and got a form rejection around 7:30 P.M. ‘after careful consideration.’  Very careful. What could you do?  I laughed. We were definitely not meant to work together!

There are others, too.  A couple times I’ve gotten a non format rejection, and once I got a rewrite and submit.  And, one I haven’t gotten yet, which is an ‘I’d like to see more work’ or ‘I love your work, please call me!’ Yet.

Did I miss any? Let me know!