Friday, May 02, 2008

I am a Writer. But not an Author --yet!

I submitted my books. Again. This is publisher number three.

I didn't send them all, though. Just two. Well, technically, one of them has the potential to be 5 books, but I only sent the first one (absolutely necessary to an Editor's workload).

I spent about 2 days (perhaps 8 hours total, though) revising, editing, having friends and family read them, getting feedback, more revising, more editing...and that was just for two paragraphs of two short cover letters! The books took more time.

When I first sent in my books last September/October (I can't really remember now), the books weren't that great. I had only revised them about 3 or 4 times. When I submitted them to another publisher in January, they were revised about 15 or 16 times. After deciding to re-submit them (to another different publisher), they have been revised about 24 times. Except my favorite one (the non-series one). I think that one's only been revised 18 times.

And these are children's books, btw. They are not novels, nor are they chapter books. They are picture books, and they are short. Very short. Less than a page of text, although with illustrations, they will be much longer page-wise. But because of the short text, there is the need for perfect word combination! If anyone out there is thinking of becoming a children's story author because they are "short and easy", then you better re-think your choice. It is not short, nor is it easy. It's dang hard, and it takes a long time. And you get rejected a lot.

The cover letter itself takes a long time, too. Amazing how the change of a lifetime hangs upon a few sentences, hoping to catch the attention of an editor.

"But Cheryl?" you may ask, "why don't you just get an agent?"

Agents are not easily found. They take a long time to find, and it usually takes a lot of money to find one. Book conferences, pitching the ideas/books, making contacts, etc. is so much work. When I saw how much I'd have to pay to attend a local conference (granted, this was CA and it was over $200), I decided to try the unsolicited route. To do this, I had to do some serious research. Writing my books took no time at all. The idea was there, I captured it, I wrote it down. Revising has taken longer. But research into submissions and different publishing companies has taken the most time. For every hour I have spent writing/revising, I have spent 10 more researching.

"But Cheryl?" you may ask, "how do you research this stuff?"

There are many websites out there (I just Google everything) that can help aspiring writers/authors. For me, my favorite places to search are SCBWI and JacketFlap. (Those are for children's books specifically.) It has also been important to research each publishing company, find their submission policies (some won't accept unsolicited material, which makes the options fewer), be certain of what they require (no illustrations unless I'm the artist!!), and see if my books would match what they are interested in publishing. That means research at bookstores (I usually browse online), publisher's websites, and even the cruising through authors/illustrators blogs and personal websites.

All in all, this makes for a lot of time spent on something that yields very little or no success.

"But Cheryl?" you may ask (golly, you ask a lot of questions!), "why do you do it, then?"

I read somewhere that if one writes for money, then they are not truly writers. But I think part of me wants to make money writing. Why not? Jane Austen did. :)
But honestly? I write because I can. I enjoy it. I've actually liked learning the tedious process of submitting my work to publishers. It's a jungle, for sure, but it's exciting. I send my babies off into the cold, cruel world, and hope and pray that someone finds them of worth. I think they're pretty great...maybe someone else will, too?

And what have I got to lose?


bythelbs said...

You've got nothin' to lose, baby!

You're little envelopes just need to land themselves on the right desk.

Never give up! Never surrender!

(Can you name the movie?)

bythelbs said...

Ugh--that's "Your little envelopes..."

Darn those homonyms!

Biff said...

Galaxy Quest.

Julie said...

Bought that movie last year for Christmas. Love. It.

I'm loving your determination right now. And bythelbs is right, it just needs to land on the right desk. And I do so hope it will so I can say "I knew you when..."

Leslie said...'s the research that takes forever. I've been working on some children's books for a while now too...I'm certainly not ready to send them out. Way to go! Can't wait to hear how it goes!

Amanda said...

I'm sure you'll find success, and I can't wait to hear about it. Good luck and keep us posted!

Jamie J said...

Good luck and I can't wait to see your books in Barnes & Noble!

Amber said...

Nothing, that's what. And I admire you for it! I worked in Deseret Book's corporate office and since then, the idea of publishing a book (that I wrote) has left a bad taste in my mouth.

Good luck!

Cheryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheryl said...

Thanks, you guys!!

And I need to make a clarification. Obviously, nobody has called me on it, but I want to be clear that when I said "Jane Austen did" I was referring to her DESIRE to make money by writing. Not that she ever MADE money by writing. Because she really didn't. Can you imagine the money she'd get today if she were alive, though? Dang!

Anyway, that is all.

Lynne's Somewhat Invented Life said...

Do you go to the BYU Writers and Illustrators for Young Readers workshop? It's June 16-20 this year.

Cheryl said...

No, I never have --that sounds so great! I'm going to have to check it out. Thank you!!