Monday, January 31, 2011

Rejection Day Blues

Photo by KatLevPhoto

Once, I had a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” to quote Judith Voirst, poet and children’s book author.

I had submitted an article to a popular children’s magazine.  The editor’s reply read:  “We’re not accepting manuscripts at this time.”  However, her e-mail sent to me four weeks prior stated: “Yep, we accept submissions.”  Likewise, her website indicated that submissions were being sought.                                         

I’ve received hundreds of rejections, so why did this rejection make me feel so bad?  I don’t know.  Maybe it had something to do with the weather, or a bad hair day, or just a general sense of why-the-heck-am-I-writing-anyway-blues.  Or maybe I felt bad because I felt that the editor had lied to me.         

I tried several ways to relieve the yucky feeling:  washed the car, cooked dinner, got some exercise, ate chocolate.  But, nothing worked.  It took me several weeks to realize that holding on to the painful rejection was not healthy.  I needed to let go of it.  During this time period however, it dawned on me that editors’ needs constantly change.

After swearing that I would never submit to this editor again, I wondered what I should do with my article.  A piece this well-written shouldn’t hide in a desk drawer.  I decided to send it off to another children’s publication as soon as possible.  In doing so, my article was accepted by another editor.  It was also snatched up by an educational database.

Let’s face it. You know as well as I do that rejections stink. And they make us feel bad.  But it’s up to you to think of them differently.  They are part of writing; and as much as I hate to admit, rejections will help you grow.  Remember that you write because you’re driven.  Because you just have to.  Trust that you haven’t yet found the right editor for your piece, but that you will.  And know that days filled with writing are not always “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad-days”, but wonderful, delightful, very good days. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Give me the money—OK, don’t

Photo by Tracy O.

I write because I love to write.  I’m not in it to make a lot of money, though that would be nice.  When I first started writing, I submitted to non-paying markets.  As my husband always says, “You got to pay your dues.”  I spent many hours researching, writing, and editing my articles.  The non-paying markets accepted my work and though I wasn’t paid, I acquired credits and built a nice bio. 

Establishing credits boosted my confidence.  A few years later, I pitched to big time children’s markets:  KNOW magazine, Nature Friend, and Highlights for Children to name a few.  These publications accepted my work and paid me for it.  As I look back, it was a good thing that I waited before approaching these markets.  I simply hadn’t honed my skills or earned the credits early on. 

Though I regularly submit to the paying markets now, I don’t shy away from the non-paying ones.  If they’re a good fit for my article, I’ll pitch it to them.  I know that educational companies are often willing to purchase my work.  And more, non-paying markets continue to build my bio. 

Over the years of submitting to non-paying markets, I’ve learned that many are well-respected, award-winning publications. Think again if you believe it’s a piece of cake getting published in one. Winning an acceptance from a non-paying market can be as difficult as a paying market. So having them on your biography is a good thing.

Some people submit to the paying markets without having any credentials.  But I dare say that those writers would have trouble catching an editor’s eye.  An editor looks at your track record, especially if you’ve never written for her publication.  Many times, an editor will ask for clips before accepting your work or giving you an assignment.  Editors like to go with sure bets.  

So here’s my advice.  Put the paying markets on the back burner.  Work on improving your writing. Build your bio.  Apply this simple equation: Hard work + Non-paying markets = credentials.  Continue applying the equation until you have about five published pieces.  Then go for it.  You’ve paid your dues.  Submit your very best and cash in on the paying markets. 

Leave me a comment.  How do you feel about writing without pay?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Review: Little Shepherd

Little Shepherd   
by Cheryl C. Malandrinos; illus. by Eugene Ruble
Ages 4 – 8     Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.    16 pp.
8/10      Print  ISBN 13: 978-161633-085-9  eBook  ISBN 13: 978-1-61633-086-6

The Little Shepherd is a story about the birth of baby Jesus told through the eyes of Obed, a young shepherd boy.  Malandrinos transports readers back in time through imagery of the senses to the night where Obed tends his flock of sheep.  We feel the chilly air; we hear the wolves howl and the sheep bleat.  Obed, his father and the other herders are visited by the angels who announce the birth of the Savior.  When Obed’s father decides that they should go to Bethlehem, Obed is afraid to leave his flock unattended.  Obed’s father however, comforts him along the way.  Upon arriving at the manger, Obed is amazed when he beholds baby Jesus.  How can an infant be so calm?  Afterward, Obed travels back to his flock, worried about what he may find.  Yet, he discovers one more miracle that night.  Full of bright illustrations that leap off each page, this book is a touching story, perfect for Christmas Eve. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Accepting the Offer

I loved writing for Stories for Children Magazine, one of the best children’s magazines online.  But, the magazine went on hiatus in 2009.  Though shaken at first by the lost of this respectable magazine, I found other markets that accepted my work. 
Fast forward to summer, 2010.  Editor V. S. Grenier announced that she was bringing the magazine back.  She posted some openings, so I applied for a position for the magazine.  Being an editor for an educational website, I felt that I could contribute to the Stories for Children Magazine team. 

Here’s what followed:    

Read Editor V. S. Grenier’s post for an editor position at SCBWI*
E-mailed a brief resume
Took part in a phone interview
Was offered the job several days later (and said yes!)
Set up email accounts
Got to know the editorial team through e-mails
Joined in on conference calls
Learned how to log in submissions and critique submissions
Talked with the nonfiction editor to fine-tune my duties
Worked with my husband to understand the nuances of Microsoft Office Live
Created lots of folders for submissions, acceptances, and revisions 
Acquired the first submissions

So far, I’ve received a nice selection of work.  I congratulate the authors for Stories for Children.  They work hard to create educational and entertaining pieces.  Our first issue is due this spring.  I invite you to take a look at:  Check out our guidelines.  You may want to contribute, too.

* SCBWI is the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Submission News, a Contest, and a Class

Four months after the birth of The Maggie Project, I’ve submitted to 18 publishers and 6 agents, and I’ve entered 3 contests.  Having been awarded two prizes helps offset the following news.

Albert Whitman: mailed the manuscript; not interested
Boyds Mills Press: mailed the manuscript; received a rejection
Holiday House: mailed a query; received a rejection
Adams Literary Agency—submitted manuscript online; received an online “no thank you”

            While the submission process seems somewhat grim, Maggie and the Third Grade Blues will be entered in The Tennessee Mountain Writers contest this month.  The contest coincides with the organization’s annual conference which will be held in Oakville, Tennessee March 24 - 26.  
            I’ve registered for the class “Everything You Need to Know about Getting an Agent.”  While many picture book authors will tell you that getting an agent is not necessary, more and more publishers only accept agented submissions.  The class will meet at the Carnegie Center for Literary and Learning in Lexington, Kentucky this February and will be taught by Writers’ Digest Editor Chuck Sambuchino.    I follow Chuck’s blog and can’t wait to meet him and learn all he has to offer.  Does anyone have a question for Chuck?  If so, leave me a comment.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

And the Winner is...

On December 13th, The Maggie Project Blog sponsored a book giveaway.  The random drawing was held and follower Susan W. of New Jersey won a copy of “The Great Snowball Escapade.”  Congratulations, Susan! 

I’d like to thank all of the faithful followers and supporters of my blog.   May the New Year bring inspiration, creativity, and much success to all of your writing endeavors.