Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Maggie Project

The Maggie Project (but not the blog) has come to a close.  I’ve achieved my goal:  I’ve submitted my picture book manuscript to 30 publishers and 15 agents, and I’ve entered it into five contests.  Though I’ve received rejections, the book has earned 3 awards and has earned positive feedback. 

Here’s the lesson.  Fiction is subjective.  It’s a personal taste whether an agent or an editor is going to like it or not.  I believe however, that writing and submitting Maggie and the First Grade Blues has not been a waste of time.  It’s helped me to improve my writing (character, voice, and plot) and to get in touch with agents I feel that one day may offer me representation.   It's helped me plant a stepping stone along the path to publication. 

I will continue to blog:  offering writing advice, reviewing books, giving details of my writing life, and sponsoring guest blogs.  I hope you will continue to follow and contribute.  The blog may be re-named.  Stay posted!  My sincere thanks goes out to all of my supporters.  I urge you all to continue to write, to submit to publishers even in the face of rejection, and to forever follow your dreams. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Writer's News

photo by Lucas
Maggie and the First Grade Blues has been sent to thirty editors and fifteen agents. Though I've received positive comments and feedback, I've yet to find an interested editor or agent.  Here are the latest results:

I received no word from Sterling or KRBY creations.  Dancing with Bears Publishing editor sent me an email saying that the call for picture books is temporarily closed due to an enormous amount of submissions. 

I had little success with agents.  I received no reply from Paul Rodeen or from Jessica Sinsheimer from Writeoncon.  However, Red Fox Literary agent Karen Grencik sent a very nice email saying:

"I've now had the chance to read this outstanding manuscript, which I enjoyed very much. I can see why it has won so many awards. It is fresh, heartfelt, and it covers an important topic. It is the picture book you were meant to write."  She goes on to say that "The picture book market is so incredibly difficult right now. I don't know who would be the right editor for this; I must pass.” 

Her feedback, as well as encouraging comments from others, is rare and precious.  Nonetheless, I must put Maggie on the back burner.  I have written another picture book that I feel more passionate about and will focus my efforts on this project.  Please stay tuned for more on this new project and on the future direction of this blog. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Sounds of Silence

You write an article, submit it to an editor, wait two to three months, and then...never receive a reply.  Has this ever happened to you?

As a writer, I make every attempt to pitch my articles professionally. Most of the time, I’ve been blessed with acceptances.  But occasionally, I get no response, not a word from an editor.  Oh, the silent rejection.  Granted, many editors have adopted the policy that no word means no thank you.  But I can’t help but wonder—Did an editor actually read my submission or is my submission lost in cyber-space?    

From the SCBWI Bulletin:
SCBWI President Stephen Mooser and Executive Director Lin Oliver feel that “Surely in this age of auto-response and other electronically sophisticated means, a quick and easy response click is readily available and would mean a great deal to writers who are trying to conduct their careers in a businesslike way.”

At least, I’m not alone.  Other (more important) people feel the way I do when it comes to responding to a submission.

After the waiting period, it is acceptable to send a follow-up letter to inquire about the submission.  Recently, I did just that.  In fact, an editor replied that my work was being considering for publication.  But a few more months passed.  No response.      

Writers must face the cold, hard facts: 
No word after the standard 2 - 3 months  = (usually in most cases) rejection.   

But don't let that discourage you.  Find other markets.  Keep submitting.  Persevere.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Waiting Game

You submitted an article to a children’s magazine. You’ve waited a month and no reply.  But you’re dying of curiosity.  Did the editor receive your submission?  If so, does she like it?  What is taking her so long to make a publication decision?

It can take up to five months before an author receives word of an acceptance at Stories for Children While other publications state in their guidelines that reviewing submissions take eight to twelve weeks, notification can drag on for a longer period of time if the work is being seriously considered for publication.  And again, we’re talking months.

Waiting to hear back from an editor can be agonizing.  What can you do?  Re-read the contributor’s guidelines.  Sometimes, an editor will modify them throughout the year.  The publishing house may have changed their submission policy.  However, if you have waited the specified amount of time as indicated, I would encourage you to send a follow-up email.  Keep the message short and mention the title and the date of your submission.  Politely ask the editor if she’s made a decision on your manuscript.

Here are some things you can do during the waiting period:
Start a new article.
Catch up on reading writer's magazines and newsletters.
Write posts for your blog.
Read books on the craft of writing.
Work on a piece for a writing contest.

Writers must be patient.  Waiting is part of the writing life.  Stay positive and stay busy as you play the waiting game.