Showing posts with label Publishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Publishing. Show all posts

Monday, August 18, 2014

A New Day

In my last post I talked about the joys of waiting...  

You send your manuscript, finally complete after months and months of grueling labor, to a magazine/publisher/agent...and then you wait. But...there are no guarantees. Sure, you could be waiting for that hallelujah-angel-chorus moment of acceptance. But you could also end up with that heartbreaking, pass-the-tissues-and-the-Ben-&-Jerry's-please rejection.

On Friday I was on my way out the door to run errands with a car full of kids and had just picked up my cell phone when I heard that adrenaline-inducing, new-email chime. I looked at the screen, saw the sender's address and my heart skipped a beat as I opened it and got my answer...



I haven't posted many details about this particular part of my writing journey which has been happening over the last few months, because in my opinion (and in the general opinion of writers and writerly professionals everywhere, if I'm not mistaken) it's not in good taste to kiss and tell, as it were, when querying. My writer's group, of course, knows all the nitty gritty details, but the long and short of it is this: I had a nibble on my novel query, sent an agent my manuscript, and after one phone call and several emails, sat back and waited to find out whether or not said agent would sign me.

In the end it was a no. A very sweet, very complimentary no, but a no nonetheless.

Honestly, I expected to feel crushed. Maybe even cry a little. Instead I found myself remarkably non-hysterical. In fact--dare I say it?--I felt relieved. Through this whole process I've grown and learned so much and received some invaluable encouragement and advice. Now I had my answer, and while it wasn't the answer I would have preferred, at least I knew that door was closed and the time had come to go knockin' on some new ones. So, I allowed myself the Ben and Jerry's (because you don't pass up the perfect excuse for indulging in tiramisu flavored ice-cream) and a good 20 minutes of pursuing the latest issue of Glamour (because Olivia Wilde) and then proceeded to stay up til almost midnight submitting my manuscript to Pitch Wars. And you know what? I think it's the most triumphant I've ever felt hitting "send".

After all, a dream isn't a very good dream if it's not worth fighting for, no?

Earlier last week, I bookmarked this quote for a future Picture Quote Monday and I think it's perfect for today. (Thank you to my friend Jacqui of Simply Jacqui Photography for the use of her photo). Here's hoping for some of that magic.


Friday, August 16, 2013

State Your Favorite - Boys' Quest



You can find my latest bit of published work in the August 2013 edition of Boys' Quest! This article about America's many unique state foods--from New York's apple muffin, to Oklahoma's ten-course meal--was the result of one of my assignments while I was enrolled with the Institute of Children's Literature. Even though I've had other stories published over the last couple of years, this one is near and dear to my heart because it was my very first piece accepted for publication. (Nothing like surviving ten rejections, finally getting your first "yes!" and then having to wait three years to see it in print!) After two rejections from agents regarding my book, it was nice to have this show up in the mail this week. A good reminder of what I've already accomplished, and how patience can pay off!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Own It

Last week someone said to me, "So you're an author?" It threw me for a second because most people who ask about this ask if I'm a writer. I'd never had someone ask me if I was an author. I mustered up all the courage I owned and forced a hesitant-yet-hopefully-confident "yeah" through my lips. Then I promptly chickened out and backtracked. "Well, I haven't published a book yet. Right now I'm in the process of trying to get an agent for my children's book." My gaze darted to the door where I was sure the writing police were about to burst through, ticket for false identification in hand. I squeaked out a quick defense of my earlier affirmation: "But I have had some short stories published in a few magazines!" So much for confidence.

After having conversations with other writers and reading blog posts and Twitter feed comments, I've come to realize I'm not the only one who has a hard time labeling who I am as a writer. In fact, there seems to be a trend--a pattern to the words we use to describe ourselves, depending on our level of confidence and/or perceived accomplishments.

When we first venture into the writing world we tend to define ourselves as "aspiring writers". This is the newbie level. We walk by the exclusive Writer's Club and we can see the bright lights and smell the freshly published books and hear whispers of 5-star reviews. We cast longing glances toward the line of people waiting to get through the door and say to ourselves, "Someday..."

Fast forward a few short stories and a couple of NaNoWriMos later, and we get brave, drop the "aspiring" and move up to just "writer". Writing is something we love doing, and we do it often enough to be (somewhat) comfortable allowing ourselves the title. At last we feel like we've reached a high enough word count and taken enough classes or read enough craft books to sneak to the back of the line. But then panic sets in because suddenly there's a rumor cascading down the queue that only authors are allowed through the door and you don't know if you're an author yet and you can only shuffle closer and closer to the door with anxious pulse and sweating hands and hope your name's on the bouncer's ultra secret clip board because who really knows where the point is that you cross the threshold from "writer" to "author" and who makes that decision anyway? And the closer you get to the door, the more you convince yourself that you should just step out of the line and wait until your name graces the cover of a book inside a real Barnes and Noble and you can bring it along as proof that you really are what you consider yourself to be deep down inside.

*deep breath and...exhale*

Here's the reality: There's no difference between being a writer and being an author. Merriam-Webster's definition of author is this:
1 :one that originates or creates
2 : the writer of a literary work 
By definition, you are the author of anything you have written. Therefore, I am an author. And I'm hoping the more I repeat that to myself, the easier it will be to simply answer, "yes" the next time someone asks. (So if you see me mumbling to myself, don't worry, it's just a confidence building exercise.)

Now some of you may hesitate to even go so far as to call yourself a writer, much less an author. As if you have to be published (aka getting paid) in order to lay claim to that title. But I say, NAY! I became a mother the moment my first child entered the world. I don't have to put in 10 quality years of child rearing, or wait until my daughter successfully graduates from college in order to earn the title of Mom. (And last time I checked, I'm not getting a paycheck.) The moment you wrote down that first idea, that first line--the moment you birthed your story--you became a writer.

Own it.

Because the bouncer isn't there to check if someone else put you on the list. He's there to see if you'll put yourself on the list. He's there to ask one question.

Are you a writer? Are you an author?

Whether or not you get in is entirely up to you.
  


Check out these great posts for more encouragement on owning your writer/author label:

Don’t Eat the Butt–Lies that Can Poison Our Writing Career #1 - Kristen Lamb (one of my favorite bloggers)

When Should You Start Calling Yourself an Author?

- See more at: http://authoritypublishing.com/book-publishing/when-should-you-start-calling-yourself-an-author/#sthash.LsW6Zk8o.dpuf

When Should You Start Calling Yourself an Author?

When Should You Start Calling Yourself an Author?

- See more at: http://authoritypublishing.com/book-publishing/when-should-you-start-calling-yourself-an-author/#sthash.LsW6Zk8o.dpuf



Thursday, June 6, 2013

On Milestones and Hope

I reached a new milestone in my writing career this week--I sent out my very first book query! *SQUEEE!* My book has officially left the nest to try and find its place in the world. It was a lot more nerve-wracking than I anticipated and I definitely felt some nervous jitters as I hit send. But that was nothing compared to the excitement I felt when the confirmation email popped up in my inbox.

My first ten pages are sitting in an agent's inbox right now. Whoa.

Now comes 6-8 weeks of waiting. For me, this is one of the hardest parts of being a writer. Not because I have a hard time being patient, but because I have a really hard time being optimistic. I'm much more of a realist when it comes to things like this. Part of me wants to believe my manuscript can and will be accepted by my number-one agency/agent pick on my first try. But the other part of me thinks, if it took sixty queries for a book like The Help to find success, who am I to think I'll find success right off the bat? Plus, there's this feeling that--besides it being statistically unlikely--it wouldn't be fair. After all, so many amazing authors have had to work incredibly hard to land an agent. Who am I to hope I could nail it on a first try? And isn't it better not to hope for too much, so I won't be disappointed if things don't work out?

But despite all of that, I hope. This time, optimism seems to have taken hold of me. I really, truly hope that this particular agent will choose to represent me. Sure, it might not happen. And that's cool. I'll find another potential agent, send another query, and hope some more. Because I realized something as I waffled between optimism and my perception of reality. Even though it may seem like I'm hoping for too much, what point is there in trying if you don't hope for--and even anticipate--success? If all you hope for and expect is failure, your dream is going to have a super sad existence. And dreams aren't meant to be super sad, pessimistic creatures. It goes against their very nature.

So...make your dream happy. Feed it some hope.


Friday, May 10, 2013

The Crazy Train

There's nothing like preparing to query an agent to make you question everything you thought you knew.

Grammar, punctuation, genres: suddenly every time you look at your manuscript, it feels like that moment when you write a word and you say to yourself, "Is that how that's spelled? It looks weird." And then you google it and it turns out it was right all along, but you still can't shake that feeling that it's totally wrong.

This is why there are so many jokes about all writers being slightly insane.

So I'm spending every spare moment editing and polishing and triple checking every punctuation rule and trying to find an official statement on the difference between a chapter book and a novel, and suddenly I realize tomorrow is Friday and I should publish a blog post. And then I feel guilty for not having something amazing prepared because after all, you've got to have a platform. How else will you reach your potential readers? And then I think about the average number of readers my posts get, and I start think, "Who are you fooling? What readers?" And then I tell myself to shut up.

See what I mean about being crazy?

My emotions are a constant seesaw of I-can-do-this to I'm-not-good-enough. Everything I read about publishing is filled with encouraging words that upon closer inspection sound more like code for "prepare yourself for rejection." And if I can't remember when to use a semi-colon instead of a comma, can I really call myself a writer?

Where am I going with all this?

I don't know.

The fact is, I could turn this into a disgustingly positive, ultra inspirational post that goes on and on about how you've got to just go for it, the learning never stops, battle the monsters of fear and doubt...etc, etc, etc. And those posts are great. Sometimes we need those posts. But sometimes, we need to hear about someone else's struggles so we can say OH MY GOSH, I'VE SO BEEN THERE. It's instant relief to know it's not just you and maybe you're not as crazy as you thought. And for the whole twenty people who will read this post, I hope that's what it will be.

Did I just end my sentence with a preposition?

Danggit.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Rejection, Persevere, Win, Repeat

My latest published work, "Muddy Water" in the February 2013 issue of Sparkle

There's nothing quite like seeing the words "Written by [insert your name here]." For me, it's more than just reassurance that I really can write, it's a reminder of what I can accomplish when I persevere. Last year I sent out eleven manuscripts (fiction and non-fiction) to several children's magazines. Of those, nine came back with the words, "Thank you for your submission but..."

There are times when the rejections get frustrating. As a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom with a graphic design business, I definitely don't write as often as I'd like to. And after weeks of propping my eyelids open til midnight in an effort to send off a handful of manuscripts, those "no thank you" replies can sting. (Especially when rejection letters from magazines who don't publish theme lists come back marked "did not fit our current editorial needs." Then tell me what you want from me!).

But every acceptance I receive is made sweeter by the rejections I've had to endure to get there. Since 2009 when I began submitting, I've racked up 27 rejections and 5 acceptances. My first year submitting manuscripts I didn't sell a single one. And when I did finally get my first yes, my excitement was tempered a bit by the news it would be published in a future issue--three years in the future, to be exact. (I finally get to see it in print this August).

No matter how many you receive (I've been told you never reach a point where you're above them) it's important to remember this: Rejections aren't the end of the world. It may mean you need to be humble, accept some constructive criticism and make some changes to improve your manuscript. Or it may simply mean you haven't found the right home for it. Just because it gets turned down, doesn't mean that your story (or you) is worthless.

After all, Gone With the Wind was rejected 38 times before someone was smart enough to say yes.

Have you had a victory born from perseverance? Share your wins in the comments below. I'd love to share a virtual high five!