Wednesday, September 2, 2009

StoryQueen's Story

Today's inspiring Guest Post is from the fabulous Shelley Moore Thomas over at StoryQueen's StoryCastle

What it all comes down to is luck, I think. Luck is very powerful. That being said, I think it is possible to make your own luck.

When we finally broke down and bought a computer in late 1992, I figured I would start sending manuscripts out. (How writers managed before computers, I have no idea!) I had about six manuscripts that I decided to send, to different houses because simultaneous submissions were a big fat no-no. I bought my copy of Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market so I could see who published what (and learned what a cover letter should look like). I chose editors to send stuff to based on nothing scientific...oohh, I really like her name! And started sending stuff out.
I received rejections, of course, all manner of rejections.
Dear Writer....
Dear Author.....
Dear Friend.....
Dear Ms. Thomas....whoa! Wait a minute!! Someone took the time to type my name??? Yahoo!

Okay, seriously, the tiny victories were sweet.

Then one day, on the simplest of my manuscripts, I got a letter asking to hold it for a bit, from the FIRST publisher I sent it to. Next came a letter asking to publish it. I was thrilled! The book was Putting the World to Sleep which was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1995. There was only one change of one word in the manuscript, so not a lot of editing.

You would think I had it made. I sure did. Heck, I'd had my picture book published!!! By the first editor that saw it!!! I am awesome!!!

However, more likely I was lucky. I made that luck by not giving up, by being professional, and by not giving up. (Yes, I said that twice.) I thought Houghton Mifflin would be swarming all over my next stuff, my other stuff, my whatever!! But, after sitting on some stuff for a year and a half, they did not buy it. I was, at the time, crushed. I should not have been. Folks, this is the way it is. In order to publish a book, it must be the right book in the right hands at the right time. The magic three. I was lucky the first time. I had to make my own luck on the next eight books.

In terms of the rule of three, things are changing. I cannot get my books into as many hands (searching for the right ones) because fewer and fewer editors will look at unagented material. And, though I have nothing against agents, I have not yet engaged one. It is probably time to try and do so. Especially since I am trying my hand at longer pieces now.

17 comments:

Corey Schwartz said...

Help! Can anyone tell me the default font for blogger? Whenever I paste in a guest post, I can't get the font to match the rest of my site!

Ladybird World Mother said...

Sorry, CS, I dont know either!!
Great guest post... lots of food for thought...

Lazy Writer said...

This is a great post. Thanks for having Shelley. She has a lot of wisdom. And sorry, Corey, I don't have a clue about the fonts.

Lisa and Laura said...

We heart the Story Queen! Can't wait to read some of her work for older audiences. Great interview Corey!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I like the Rule of Three. Feels magical and, hey, when looking for luck in all the right places, a little magic can't hurt.
Thanks Shelley and Corey.

ElanaJ said...

Luck is powerful. :)

Solvang Sherrie said...

I totally agree about making luck. Great post, Shelley!

C.R. Evers said...

awesome story! Great post.

Katie said...

Wow. Great story! inspiring!

storyqueen said...

Hi Corey....sorry I messed with your fonts!! But that's just what I do...I mess with things.

Thanks for having me!

Shelley

Corey Schwartz said...

Hi Shelley,

Don't worry. It's not just you!

It was a privilege to have you as my guest!

C

MG Higgins said...

Right book, right hands, right time. Love it!

Casey McCormick said...

Ooo thanks for sharing your story, Shelley! I definitely think there are things we can do to create some elusive luck for ourselves. And rest of it? Just the plain ol kind that you have to be in the right place and the right time for.

Carrie Harris said...

Sooo awesome. I remember the first time I got a personalized response too. You'd think that I won the lottery. :)

Amy Tate said...

Thank you for this post. I needed this today. I received a really nice rejection letter from Dial, but a rejection nonetheless. sigh.
Now...to figure out where to submit next.

Kelly H-Y said...

Wise, wise words! Thank you for sharing this. LOVE Shelley Moore Thomas and her blog!

storyqueen said...

Hi Everyone,

I'm giving away one of my books on my blog. Stop by and enter!

Shelley