My mom and I wrote a children’s book last year. The story is based on our personal experience with stillbirth. It tells the news of the loss in terms my then-three-year-old could understand. Our story explains that although it is a sad moment in time, we can still enjoy the life we’ve been given and be witnesses for God’s love in all circumstances. It is a very personal story. But there are so many others who are going through the same situation and I pray our story can help others find hope.
In June we signed a contract through Tate Publishing. How exciting!! The acquisitions department was calling me every day until we signed the contract. They wanted our story! But once the contract was signed, communication slowed way down. Except the calls for more payments. We got through the editing stage. With a new baby on the way I didn’t push them too much for progress because I was pretty busy myself. In January we learned that Tate Publishing went out of business. For a few hours I was angry, disappointed, frustrated. Then I realized this would be a blessing.
I started researching the publishing process more. Last year we just kind of dove into it, but this time I wanted to learn more about what we were getting into and make wise decisions with our work. I borrowed a couple books from the library and have been making my way through them. The Everything Guide to Writing Children’s Books has been especially helpful, although a little outdated when it comes to the submission process (printed in 2011; most publishers and agents prefer email submissions these days), but the guidelines for what to include in submissions is still relevant. It has very real and constructive advice for the creative process, and even though our book was written, it was good to review the information, especially since I have more book ideas in the works. The 2014 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market had helpful information on the submission process, along with long lists of publishers, agents, conferences, and awards. A new edition comes out each year, our library just happened to have the 2014 edition.
We had decided to go with traditional publishing as opposed to self-publishing. We are not artists, and for this to be a quality book we need a professional illustrator to turn our story into a cherished book. Illustrators cost money. Publishers supply illustrators. Publishers also walk the book from conception to sales. Decision made. Before reading my research books, I thought, ‘Hey, why not shoot for the top? The worst that can happen is get a rejection letter.’ So I thought I’d send my manuscript straight to Zondervan. But after doing all my research, I realize that’s not a wise decision. Their website states they are not accepting unsolicited manuscripts. But it does give a list of literary agents in the Christian writer’s market.
I spent a full day sifting through the list, visiting websites, checking submission guidelines. Of 41 agencies, 3 are currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts for picture books. Whew! That narrows my choices of who to send to. So I decided which agency I would focus on first, drafted a cover letter, attached my manuscript, had a couple people review it one last time…. and then the revision monster hit. After looking at another book I wrote and how well it flows, my mom and I were just getting stuck on this one. We briefly considered shelving it and focusing on the other first. But after a prayerful week, we decided to go ahead with Faith’s story. We owe it to her to get her story out there. We’ve been working on it for a year, and we hope God will use it to help others.
So here I am, ready to submit our manuscript to an agent. Except not. I have always enjoyed proofreading other people’s writing. I’m a stickler for grammar and punctuation. But it is so much harder to proofread your own writing! So I’m stuck in the revision process. I spent all of yesterday afternoon revising. Go play with kids. Revise some more. Feed the animals. A little more revision. You get the idea. Finally, after all the kids were asleep Hubby tore me away from the computer to watch some TV together.
Once we get the manuscript the best we can make it (deadline: this week), I’ll submit it to the first literary agent. I should know within three weeks whether she accepts it or not. If not, we move on to the next one.
This is a whole new adventure. Like everything else these days, I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m learning along the way. It is so exciting and intimidating all at once! Stay tuned for updates on the writing process!