First Rejection Letter

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Over my past twelve years of writing as a hobby, I’ve received over 100 rejection letters or emails. I wrote or emailed publishers my picture books and novels. None of them are as memorable as my first rejection. In 2008, I sent my first version of VERVE STONES to several publishing houses.

To prepare, I bought a book at Barnes and Noble about how to submit a children’s book. I researched synopses, cover letters, and query letters. All these were new terms for me. Each one took me a month to write.

Every publisher requires something different for a submission. One might want a query letter and the first three chapters of a manuscript. Another needs a synopsis and cover letter. The next will read a query and the first ten pages. You get the idea. Most only read them if sent by mail. A few via email.

Sometimes the publishing houses will mail rejection letters in self-addressed stamped envelope prepared by the submitter. Usually in three to six months. Less use emails. Some inform submitting authors that their answer is no if three months pass. Many publishers only review submissions from agents, which is a whole nother beast.

When I finally dropped off an armful of letters and envelopes at the post office, I wanted to throw a party. From that moment on, I checked the mail every day. Twice on Saturday. I refreshed my email page every hour. No joke. I filled my free time daydreaming about a publisher calling me to offer me a hundred times the normal $5,000 authors received when they signed a new contract.

Around that time the final HARRY POTTER book released. I read an article wondering where the next HARRY POTTER book would come from. I vowed it would be VERVE STONES. I still feel that way.

Finally, I received my first rejection in the mail! To this day it is my only personalized letter. A nameless employee at Houghton Mifflin wrote out, Dear Mr. Aries, double underlined, thank you, sorry, and every success. My favorite part of the postcard-sized rejection is a handwritten message in the bottom corner that says, “Great writing & pace. Best of luck with Spoon!”

I’m still waiting to get my stories published with a publishing house. I’ve moved on to self-publishing, which has its pros and cons. But whenever I’m feeling like a crummy writer who will never become a full-time author, I repeat, “Great writing & pace. Best of luck with Spoon!” as a mantra to keep myself motivated.

Do you have your own rejection story? What keeps you going when you feel discouraged?

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Anyone Else Feel This Way?

No matter how many times I send them to Dustin, Dawn, Taylor, or Robin. No matter if it’s a first or final draft. I always think my latest draft is perfect. This draft is a best seller. I justify my overactive pride with the fact I’ve been writing for a hobby since 2006. My skills have improved immensely. I’ve finally figured out this writing thing. Then a friend returns the draft with more red text than black.

I crash back to earth a few days later. I read their comments first. Try to take in everything without getting upset. Some feedback is in areas I knew needed to be fixed. Most are changes I never noticed. Ones that totally enhance the story. Or edits which keep me from writing like one of my third graders.

What I’m trying to say is thank you to my friends who edit my drafts. Without you, VERVE STONES, NINTH NIGHT, UNDER, and BACK OF BEYOND would never exist!

Venting

Plugging away on BACK OF BEYOND. To be honest, I’m feeling frustrated. It’s been almost three years since I self-published VERVE STONES. I wrote over half of BACK OF BEYOND years before that date. I desperately want to finish. My students, friends, and family keep asking me if I’m finished yet. I can see the end of the draft even if not far, far off.

Self-publishing takes me a very long time. Especially because my AMAZING FRIENDS have to take time out their own busy lives to edit my work. My manuscripts always require a great of improvements. Staring at the incredible cover by Jake doesn’t help either.

I daydream about being an author full time. Writing for hours each day instead of minutes. Having editors to burden with my drafts instead of friends. Being able to finish several other picture books, stories, and series I started and never have time to write. My job, friends, family, and God come before writing. I will keep praying this can be my job instead.

Time to get back to work.

 

Halfway Through BACK OF BEYOND

With a five day break from school, I’ve found myself with some writing time. I’m officially halfway through implementing Robin Puelma’s feedback and edits she gave me for BACK OF BEYOND. I know I mentioned this before, but her comments for me to cut my overly described characters, settings, and fight scenes have vastly improved the flow and pacing of the story.

Even more important is her critique that my first draft needed a dilemma for Spoon. Of course, Robin is completely correct. Spoon achieved a goal. Yet, he lacked a solid dilemma. Well, I’m pleased to say the story is so much better now that Spoon is trying to work through a dilemma. SO MUCH BETTER! Can’t wait to finish the second draft to see how Spoon changes at the end of the story.

Priceless

A few of my third graders are reading VERVE STONES. They’re asking questions, updating me on what they’re reading, and the ones that finished want to know when THE LEGEND OF SPOON – BOOK 2 is available. My students’ love for Altrea, verses stones, and the characters are without a doubt my favorite part of being an author. I might not sell many books, but these interactions are priceless.

Here’s to putting in some hours on BACK OF BEYOND over the holiday weekend!