Before I had any books published, before I was agented, before I ever considered I would ever write anything longer than a long picture book text, and before I knew anything about publishing…
Let me begin in the beginning. I wrote, revised and submitted my first manuscript way back in ancient times. I mistakenly labeled my chapter book story in my query. I called it a picture book because, as I said^, I didn’t know better. This 7,000-word episodic story that was inspired by The Little Prince (16,000 plus words, which some still consider a picture book) had too many things wrong with it, and my query had many more faux-pas. But it must have had something right, because only ten days later I got a very nice and encouraging personal rejection from one of the six small publishers I had subjected my offering to.
After that all the rejections were forms. So were the rejections to stories that followed, for the next eighteen months. I learned that truly personal feedback was rare, and I also learned many more things about writing and submitting.
One publisher never responded, but this, too, was common. Even back then.
Years passed. Winters turned to springs and summers turned to autumns. I was forever grateful for that first personal rejection because it kept me going onto better writing and not giving up.
Until today. It’s been a long time since my stamped self-addressed envelopes showed up with regularity in my mailbox. Everyone had moved to E-subbing, and my agent takes care of this aspect now. But today, there it was. My final rejection to that very first submission for a story I sent, ahmm, nine years ago.
Lest you imagine it was a form, as in “clearing the slush” by a summer intern at this publishing house, I will tell you otherwise. It’s a nice personal rejection. It also states that the story is really a chapter book, not a picture book, and that it is filled with “child-like imagination.” But, alas, the house has never tackled this length of story. The response is dated from six days ago, signed by the senior editor.
I am flummoxed, flabbergasted, and flat-out speechless. I don’t know what it means, if anything. I almost let magical thinking take over: the first and the last… Oh, no! Then I got a grip and decided this is a blog post about how slow publishing can be, and how you can never give up. Much more positive.
Back to work.