Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Laugh and Let Manuscripts Rest

I had a manuscript open yesterday when my husband went to use the computer.

Him: "You're still working on this!?"

Me: (Laughing) Yes, I found a publisher I want to send it to. They'll actually be the first to see this story. And I just sent out "x manuscript" to four publishers. It's a record!

He smirked, shook his head, and went about his business.

Yes, this pretty typical. It's a sort of conversationy-ish thing we have every so often. I don't talk about my writing all that much. I don't want to drive my husband crazy! He is supportive and will listen but I don't want to overwhelm him. I mean, I could just talk about writing and all that goes with it 24/7. Nobody wants to hear that, but us writers of course. We're crazy like that. ;) I think it's probably hard being married to a writer while not being one. It's a funny business. Things can take such long time. There is so much involved.

This manuscript I am sending out for the first time is over six months but maybe less than a year old. I don't really keep track of that kind of stuff. I do know that the manuscript has been sitting on my computer for at least a couple of months waiting for my attention. I'm back to reading it now. With very fresh eyes. I'm laughing at the jokes like I've never heard them before. I'm surprised by little things. I am enjoying reading! And I'm keen to pick out any little things that need to be fixed before I send it off to this perfect publisher that I have found. There is no way I would have seen all the things I see now if I did not take the time to "forget" about this manuscript and let it rest. I know it's easy to want things to happen with our writing "right now", (Geez, I feel like I've said that before on this blog. Maybe a few too many times! ;) but unless you are some perfect, amazing writer, you will find things that can be improved when you let your manuscripts sit for a month or two, or *gasp* even three!

"X manuscript" that I am finally sending out is really old. I wrote it I don't know how many years ago. It got a lot of interest from agents way back when. It has seen its share of contradictory revision notes. That kind of makes it a tough one to know what to do with. I've finally just decided to start sending it out into the world of publishers and give my sweet little characters, who I am now really attached to because I have known them for so long, a chance. After so much rest time I can see clearly now what all those seemingly contradictory revision notes were asking. I can also imagine my characters waiting around in those slush piles dancing around and yelling, "Woohoo! She didn't forget us! We're out on submission! We might get into a real book someday!" Yes. I have written a story about my characters being out on submission. I know. It's weird.

So anyway, rest your manuscripts and laugh along at yourself with significant others who aren't writers. I mean, it is kind of funny to work on an 800 word story for years, isn't it? Maybe not as funny as imagining your characters in the slush pile. I haven't told my husband about that one yet. There is only so much a man can take.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Monster List of Picture Book Agents - Sally Apokedak, Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency

Sally Apokedak is a new children's book agent who has recently joined the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency as their Children's Book Specialist, although she will be representing all genres according to the News Flash post on the agency website. where it says that, "Sally Apokedak has worked as editor for Suite101, and as Children’s Book editor for Bella Online. She currently serves as YA book editor for DMOZ and as YA contributor for Novel Rocket. She has had short works published in a variety of venues, including Highlights for Children." (scroll down to read the post.) You can also learn more about her from reading her bio.

Sally has a great website,, and looks to be very internet savvy. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+

You can read some of Sally's picture book reviews on her personal blog, Reading, Writing, and Ruminating on Young Adult Books.

Be sure to read her post, What I'm Looking For.

You also can read Sally's thoughts, and how she works *right now* in this post. Be sure to have a look around her blog and read some posts like this one, Replying to Rejections.

Sally's submission guidelines can be found on her website, not on the agency site at this time.

This post is part of the Monster List of Picture Book Agents. If you have any changes that you think should be made to this listing, please contact me or leave them in the comments. Thanks!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Believing in Yourself

Okay, this may be way too honest...

I've been pretty down on myself lately. For not doing enough...not being enough...not being successful in this old writing business. I haven't felt like blogging or tweeting or any of the hoohaw I usually love to do. I just feel blah. I know publishing is a super tough business. Yes. I. Know.

I've had a number of people tell me that you won't succeed unless you believe in yourself. Well, I must believe in my writing because I let people look at it. (Yes, this is a big step from the way I used to be when I did not believe in my writing!) It helps that I've had interest from major publishers and yeah, I've sold a book. I know that my writing doesn't suck. But right at this moment it feels like its not enough. I want something new. Something amazing to happen. Like selling another book. It's a vicious circle this writing thing!

I'm not all that impatient. I'm pretty skilled at this waiting game. Lately though, while I'm waiting I'm wondering...will anything ever be good enough? I feel like it is, but maybe that's just me being silly. (I do tend to get quite silly so this is a real possibility.) Anyhow, my belief? Meh.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful that I've had the successes I have had. I've tried quitting writing before and believe me, that's never going to happen. I guess I just wonder sometimes if I should be trying harder. Or maybe I'm trying too hard? I don't know. I have lots of manuscripts. Lots of works in progress. Way too many ideas. And there's always opportunities. I think I just need to avoid the thinking about whether or not I'm going to succeed in a material sense.

I don't think the way I feel is all that unusual. As creators we're the ones that have to believe in our work first, even when no one else knows about it. (Or when they do and keep asking when our next book is going to be out.) It's easy for a while. But to keep it up for months... years... there's bound to be those times we wonder if what we write is good enough.

There is more to writing than publishing. Being excited about a story. Enjoying the process. Loving the writing community. Loving that my kids like to hear my stories, and write with me. Those are the things that fill me with hope and make me succeed, whether I sell a book or not.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Querying and Submitting Manuscripts After Sandy

So, I don’t pay attention to the news much. I’d heard the rumblings that a storm was coming but I didn’t know where or when. I was busy writing. Subbing. Doing the things I usually do to move forward with my writing. Focusing.

And then…I couldn’t help but find out what was happening in New York and on the east coast and eek! It was horrible.

And you know what else? I’d emailed a sub there just before the chaos ensued. I had no idea. But it’s there now, waiting, for whenever the person it’s waiting for gets to it. Maybe they have lost their house, maybe they haven't been able to get back to work and when they do will come back to an overwhelming inbox that I will have added to! I don't want to add to their burden. I feel guilty.

I’ve been listening to the talk. Those of us not affected by the storm and still in subbing mode well, it may sound bad, but we get antsy. It’s part of the subbing process—the waiting and wondering. It’s only natural. Now? I’ve seen some say to wait a week to sub and some say to go ahead. Hmm.

I'm nowhere near the East coast. From what I can gather, some people are back to work with things as normal—as normal as they can be at this moment anyway, and some are still getting their lives back together. How is one to know whether it is okay to sub after Sandy? You can check Twitter. A lot of people in publishing tweet and have talked about what’s going on where they work. (I have lists of agents, editors, and publishers on Twitter.) So, you have to use your judgement.

My policy right now? Wait at least a month before subbing to the East coast. People just suffered a major traumatic event, lost time at work, and who knows what happened in their personal lives. They need time to catch up, regroup, heal.

I know, it’s hard. When we have a manuscript and are ready to send it out we want to do it now. We want to sell it now. We want it to be a book asap! It’s not realistic any day. Especially not after a natural disaster. The one thing I always remind myself when I send out a sub: I’m just waiting in line. It’s a long line, but I’ll get to the front eventually.

And yes, the eventually may be a little longer now. Be sure to give at least an additional month for response time before you status query. I give six to eight extra weeks in general so I'm thinking an extra three months would be kind.

Querying and submitting. It’s not for wimps.