Do you want to write children’s books? Get ready to wait!

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By Carol Gordon Ekster

I did a blog hop awhile back and the talented Sarah Albee was one of the authors I interviewed. I remember she said the hardest thing for her about writing is the waiting. Wow! She put words to an unsettling feeling I’ve had since I started writing twelve years ago. The publishing world did not mesh with my life as I was leading it. I taught fourth grade for 35 years. In teaching, everything is much more immediate. I marked all papers and projects the day I got them. image of grading paperRemediation should be quick. You want students’ misunderstandings cleared up as soon as possible before they are difficult to unlearn. When a parent wrote a note or called or e-mailed, my response was given by the end of that day. I am not a patient lady, never have been. Then how did I ever get into the world of publishing? Perhaps so I could work on becoming a more patient person? I’ve certainly been frustrated by all the waiting I’ve had to endure, but I’ve learned not only that I can wait but that sometimes waiting is a good thing.

 

wais bk cover copy
Carol’s first book

When I first started writing, I didn’t wait long enough before I sent out submissions. I was always in a hurry to get the manuscript out. Ahh…if I had only let it simmer more, revised more, I think I would have had less rejections. And then when I’d get a bite, I had to wait for that definite yes, and then wait longer for the contract to come in the mail. And then for my first book, Where Am I Sleeping Tonight? (A Story of Divorce), it took two years from the time of acceptance to hold that book in my hand. I wondered if it would ever happen!

It has continued to be a waiting game. But it is a game I want to play. This is the world of publishing and I’ve decided to embrace this aspect of it since I can’t change it. So it is with joy that I wait to lay eyes on the illustrations for my third book, coming out in January 2015. I have not seen a sketch yet, but hold onto the belief that it will be best to see the entire book when it is ready for me to proof. And I await responses from editors who have shown interest in my other manuscripts. I have decided to be excited about the possibilities. I truly trust in the process. Even after many rejections for a specific manuscript, I know that if it is to be a book one day, it is simply a matter of waiting for the right time, the right revision, the right publisher. And it doesn’t hurt to know that Dr. Seuss also waited… through 27 rejections until he got his first book published. So if you’d like to come along with me on this roller-coaster ride of children’s publishing, get ready to wait! And while you’re waiting, keep writing!

What makes the wait worthwhile for you?

23 comments

  1. I needed this right now. My patience is being tried with a few different manuscripts. I think I’ll take a step back, refocus, and move on. It will be worth it. (Right?)

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    1. Absolutely! This business continues to amaze me. And I continue to wait!! But good things are happening. And I finally saw the illustrations…and it was definitely worth the wait and incredible to see the entire book at once. Don’t lose faith.

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  2. I love this post because we can get excited and send something before it is ready. i have been writing and illustrating the same picture book now for a year. Refining the manuscript and re-doing illustrations over and over again, I see the pages that shine and the ones that need work, but now because I have been so patient and hard working I can also see the light at the end of the publishing tunnel. A new journey awaits learning the ropes on how to break into the picture book world.

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  3. Waiting is just part of the game, so I write, revise, submit, write another, revise that, submit, and do it over and over again. When the first one returns home, I revise, and resubmit. It’s a merry-go-round I can’t get enough of.

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  4. Thanks for the great post, Carol. Like you, I started subbing before many of my manuscripts were ready…the waiting is hard, but that makes it even more wonderful when you finally have your own book in your hands!

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  5. I too am learning the art of patience! It was five years ago that I wrote my soon to be released children’s book Wimbley the Wonder Boy, and since that time I’ve waited out the submission-rejection-offer to publish-revision-signed contract phase…and I’m still waiting. With the book due to launch this November (2014), I have yet to see the entire illustrated book! It has been a long road, but one that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I have learned so much in the past few years, and I feel that I am now ready to submit more manuscripts with greater confidence. Thanks for writing this post. What a gift to know we writers, new or old, all go through these same trials!

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  6. I never really thought about waiting as being the polar opposite to my past life (also a teacher). Now I have a good counter-analogy when I think about why waiting is so frustrating for me too!

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    1. Glad to be of service, Juliana! And I just thought how there’s no opportunity for revision after teaching a class for a year, while I am still returning to manuscripts that I’ve written ten years ago. I could go on with all the differences I am now thinking of, but I won’t! Thanks for stopping by here at Writers’Rumpus.

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  7. It’s good to know I’m not the only one impatient at the slow process of publishing. But you’re right – when you can’t change it, you might as well embrace it! What makes the wait worthwhile is the dream, of course. And the support of my critique group!

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  8. Oh yes to all of this!! The Buddhists believe we live each lifetime to learn a critical lesson and I’m convinced mine this lifetime must be patience…
    I have a book under contract for Summer 2017. When I try to wrap my brain around this, what can I do but laugh:) I’m pretty sure by then I’ll forget what it’s about. One thing I’m learning to do is keep little notes in the back of my manuscripts of people who helped with research or were early readers so I will remember years later to thank them in the acknowledgments (same for any funny/memorable stories that went into the writing of the book because I will most definitely forget those by the time interviews/promotional blog tours come around.)
    Great post, Carol!

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    1. Thanks, Jen. And that’s a great idea to keep notes. I have a file, too, to remember how it is I came to write each of my picture books. But I have many stories and years since I’ve started some of them that it is most definitely difficult to remember it all…especially if I’m asked and I’m not in front of my computer! 2017? Wow! It is so very hard to be patient! I think in this business, we’re going to get lots of practice to work on patience.

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  9. I just began the journey of submitting children’s books for publication – and the waiting took me by surprise. I wrote a blog post about it last week http://kateywrites.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/tom-petty-knew-what-he-was-talking-about/
    It’s so good of you to share this perspective – I certainly need to learn to embrace and accept the waiting! And I can tell from your post that holding that published book in your hand at last is worth it!

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    1. Katey, I love the song! The waiting is definitely the hardest part. Your blog post is great. I love how you list everything you’re waiting for. I hope my post helped. I make an effort to keep that gnawing feeling at bay and try daily to feel grateful for that feeling of hope and expectation that comes with waiting.

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    2. Katey, I forgot to mention how much yoga helps me with being right here, right now. I do a daily practice and everyday I focus on that hope I have for today. You can read another post I did about yoga here: https://writersrumpus.com/2013/08/02/writingyoga-connection/
      Maybe you’ll start doing yoga! It honestly helps me in all things. I began writing at about the same time I started doing yoga, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

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