The other day I was reading various blogs and came across Nathan Bransford’s post, “Every Writer Gets Rejected.” He wrote about the age old party game that we writers like to play, “Did You Hear How Many Times X Award-Winning-Novel Was Rejected?’ These discussions always fascinate me as well as give me hope. If Dr. Seuss and J.K. Rowling and Jane Yolen get rejected, than I’m in great company! So I was more than a little surprised when Bransford wrote that many writers use this type of discussion to show that the current publishing system is broken.
Sure, I think that every now and again when I get rejected. After all, my marketing strategies are brilliant, so if they are rejecting me when I send them a manuscript that is clearly perfect for them . . . clearly the system needs help. Eventually, I come to my senses and realize that my rejections mean no more or less than those everyone else receives. Not right here, not right now. Try again.
When the big names (both authors and books) get rejected, it really doesn’t make me think conspiracy or even about a need for massive change in how publishing works. It just makes me think about how subjective publishing is. Even a great book isn’t perfect for every editor. Depending on the day of the week and the phase of the moon, a book that might be perfect for Editor A on Monday won’t be on Friday. It is simply a matter of having your work in the right place at the right time.
Hard to do, yes. But, not impossible.
So, did you hear how many times Harry Potter was rejected?
Pop-up books, especially those by Reinhart and Sabuda, are one of my guilty pleasures although I’m always reluctant to splurge on them for myself. So when I got to the part about upcoming books I did a great big, huge happy dance and e-mailed the URL to my son. I see a gift for him and a gift for his dad in the future as well as lot’s of guilt free pop up fun for me.
Are all writers as enamored of pop-ups as I am?
Today is my son’s last day of school for the summer.
“Hurray!” says he.
“Writing time has just gotten a little wonkier,” says Mom.
But I don’t entirely mind because it is also the time of year where we can spend major amounts of time in the library together. We go to various family and children’s programs but he also picks out a lot of books and audiobooks. His theme for the summer — banned books. He was appalled when he heard me reading this article to my husband and thus discovered that two of his favorite authors, Peg Kehret and Bruce Coville, are frequently banned.
Whether you are checking out banned books or just looking for something fun to do with your young reader, support your local library. There’s no telling what fun you’ll discover there. Watch this video to see what I mean.
- “Create a Buttefly Bouquet” is a simple paper craft.
- “4th of July Marshmallow Pops” is a snack your preschooler can make.
- And there’s another in “Make Chocolate Filled Strawberries” although you’ll get messy eating them!
- “Make a Silhouette Portrait Lamp Shade” is a tween level craft.
- “Make Plastic Spoon Plant Markers” let’s you get busy in the garden. This is the one I had to retake the photo for but it was worth it because I’m really with how it turned out.
Confession — I only managed to write 2173 words last week. Pathetic! I did better than that when I was sick in bed.
But last week was one of those weeks where every project was a struggle and nothing came together, until Thursday. That’s was when I dummied my astronomy picture book. Some manuscripts simply must be dummied to make sense. Please oh please let me find an editor who understands that!
So how are things going so far this week?
The contractors are here putting in a new front door and new back door. It must be going just dandy because the dialog just went PG-13. Apparently something is not coming out of the old hole as easily as Mr. Pro expected. Which is so why we are paying him instead of doing it ourselves.
The phone isn’t working. So if you need to reach me, e-mail me. The DSL is working but not the phone. Strictly speaking, that doesn’t make sense but it is my life so we left a service call with the phone company. They won’t take a cell number as an alternate contact number although they also provide the cell phones.
School gets out on Wednesday. Wednesday at noon. Gotta love that.
Hmm. Both contractors are now at the front door. I should probably go apologize for sucking the poor men into my universe. It sounds like they may be prevailing. Maybe.
Anyway, my hopes for this week include —
- Rewriting the dummy of the picture book. My critique group gave it a thorough going over now that it is in a form that makes sense to readers.
- Researching the second nonfiction picture book — this one is on animals.
- Tying up interviews for one CW article.
- Starting to pull in interviews for the other CW article.
- Getting a few pages done on the ghosting project so he knows I’m not ignoring him.
- Maybe just maybe starting a new picture book in my bountiful spare time. Ha!
Wish me luck! Have you ever tried to write while someone is yanking out your front door?
My second step, no matter which of us goofed up, is to redo the article. It doesn’t really matter who is wrong, they aren’t going to publish what I gave them because it doesn’t work for some reason. If I want the sale, I’m going to have to rewrite.
Still, I know several writers who are astonished that I am so willing to rewrite. The truth of the matter is simple. If I want the sale, I have to rewrite. It doesn’t really matter who misinterpreted what. Yes, I like to know it wasn’t me, but more than anything else that just helps me relax and get into the rewrite.
Do I always make every change? Of course not. Sometimes, but very seldom, an editor asks for something that would make a piece factually wrong. I don’t make that particular change, but I do try to see why they made the request. Sometimes I contact them and ask for additional information. Then I look for a way to correct the larger problem and still make both of us happy.
Do I make changes if they are asking for material that wasn’t specified in the original agreement? Usually. Most often these have been pretty simple requests — such as Editor B wanting something saved as a PDF where, in the past, Editor A wanted a JPG. No problem.
Not every request is reasonable but I’m lucky in that most of them I’ve received have been. And if it isn’t, there really isn’t any point in being unreasonable in your response. Take a deep breath. Delete your first three e-mail responses. Then look for a way to make things work for both of you. If you try, you can probably find a way and the editor will appreciate it which will be reflected in your income.
While writing up one of my pieces for Education.com, I contacted the St. Louis Carnivorous Plant Society. I had been to one of their shows several years earlier and was convinced that they would be able to point me in the right direction for the information I needed.
Not only did Deborah S. help me find what I needed, she pointed out a mistake in my logic. “Venus Fly Traps won’t do well in a terrarium.” No way! How could that be true? I’d been doing my research. I’d seen the plant for sale in terrariums. Maybe so, but the more research I did showed me she was right. Although some stores sell them in terrariums, they need a period of winter dormancy that the other plants don’t need. That’s going to make things tough.
While I was finishing up this piece, I was also working on a piece on how to take photos to supplement your writing. I visited tons of photography web sites. Who to interview? I went with the highly scientific methodology of picking photographers whose work I loved. Enter one Jose Villa, wedding photographer. After he agreed to do an interview, I did a bit more reading and found that he has been named one of the top ten wedding photographers World Wide. World Wide. Intimidated much? Still, he gladly shared his time and expertise.
When you are writing something up, consult with the experts. Call them. E-mail them. Sure, it can be a little intimidating (top ten world wide!) but who else can better inform your writing than the pros? And, especially when you tell them you are writing for children or about writing for children, they are more than willing to share.
I love to play with fonts. I know, I know. Keep it simple when it comes to your manuscript — Times New Roman is the way to go. But when I design a brochure or handout, sometimes I like to play around even if I don’t always know what I want to use.
Fortunately, So You Need A Typeface is here to save the day. Brought to us by Inspiration Lab, this flow chart let’s you answer questions (Are you working on an invitation or a newspaper? Do you like serif or sans serif?) and follow the path to some interesting choices that you might otherwise not have considered. After all, I may be familiar with Comic Sans but Swift was not on my radar.
Click on the flow chart to enlarge and have some fun exploring the possibilities.
Hurray! One of the great things about writing for the Web is that things can be “in print” in just a few weeks after you turn them in. Here are some of the pieces I just wrote for Education.com:
- “Plant a Pizza-themed Herb Garden” is a container gardening project.
- “Craft a CD Curtain” is a recycling project that makes a use for dozens of those freebie cd’s.
- “Make Critter Dice” encourages imaginative play in preschoolers.
- In “Make a Desktop Desert Terrarium,” I reuse a small glass bowl and some of my own cactus collection.
- For “Plant an Insectivorous Terrarium,” I needed some help form the experts (something I will write up tomorrow).
- “Make a Summer Fun Compass” helps introduce map skills and travel planning.
I took the photos as well as doing the write ups — this is one of those markets that requires some simple photography. If you’re capable, it is a great way to get your work out where people, including editors, can find it. You’ll also earn a check in the process.