The secret of how to get published isn't really a secret.
It's not just talent, although a little bit of that helps. It's not just luck, although a little bit of that can help too.
Here it is....
Wait for it...
Wait for it...
It's HARD WORK, TIME and DETERMINATION.
Like I said, talent and luck helps too. But talent and luck and a token can get you on the New York City Subway. See what I mean. It takes what it takes, and there's no way around it.
So, HARD WORK, TIME and DETERMINATION it is!
I am sure that' s not the answer everyone wanted to hear. But it's the truth.
I think many of you may submit your story for critique thinking it's going to come back with just a few edits and a note saying "great to go out." I also think you may get discouraged when it doesn't. I want you to know that I hope and pray that isn't the case. So I want you all to keep a few things in mind.
Let's start with this -- It often takes many, many revisions before a manuscript sells.
Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten -
Hedgehog's 100th Day of School -
*Note Basically I had characters and a setting and other factors that worked, so this one
was rather easy to accomplish.
The Star in the Christmas Play -
Moldilocks and the 3 Scares -
Let's Eat: Mealtimes Around the World -
You might be saying, well, that's not an awful lot, I revised my ___ manuscript 20 times before I sent it to her!
Note: Each version was one focused "revision" round with several of my many critique groups. That includes going over the feedback of from 1 to 3 critique groups of three to five people each. So there would actually be MANY revisions within each version. Based on this, each time I dusted the manuscript off and focused on it, I would save a new version. I hope that makes sense.
So it's actually A LOT more revisions than it looks like above. If you still don't think it's a lot...
Here's where another aspect of the HARD WORK part comes in. In college, I majored in English, with a focus on Writing for Children and Children's Literature and Folklore (also the Holocaust in Children's Literature). I started my actual journey in 1999 when I bought my first Children's Writer's and Illustrators Market Book and also joined LICWI and SCBWI, and a critique group. In 2000, I started going to conferences. I've attended classes at the New School in NYC with Meg Cabot of the Princess Diaries as my teacher, conferences on both local (Long Island and New York), non-local (NESCBWI, NJ, Hudson Valley, EPA, WPA) and National (NY/LA) and International (Spain) levels. I have an extremely, extremely long resume of magazine, poetry and book review credits that I earned before I even submitted book manuscripts. I'm not saying you have to do ANY of this, but what I am alluding to is the amount of HARD WORK and TIME I put in as well as my DETERMINATION, so, please keep reading. There's a point to all of this.
Because I had an extensive background in writing for children and some modicum of talent, I was able to get into Highlights Chautauqua in 2001. I returned in 2002, 2003, and 2005. I also got into RUCCL (Rutgers University Council for Children's Literature) those years as well, all the while writing and critiquing. I published in many magazines and book review journals, but I really didn't start to submit my book manuscripts until 2005 (again, look at the TIME) and then, got sidetracked with my special needs toddler for a few years until I re-focused on getting published in 2009 and got my first contract in 2010.
I am not, in any way, saying that any of you have to do all that schooling, or go to all of those conferences or take all of those classes or have a long resume -- what I am saying is the same thing I always say. It takes TIME and HARD WORK and DETERMINATION to get published.
And sometimes, part of that hard work includes a lot of critique comments or a lot of re-visioning to put you on the right path for your manuscript. It's the same for me! Please do not think that I have not gotten my work critiqued at conferences. YES! I have. I still do when I attend a conference which I'm not on Faculty! I am a huge believer in conferences, as well getting someone else's feedback and I still participate in several critique groups today. Feedback is the breakfast of Authors :)
You ARE investing in yourself and your career by getting a critique. That is great and such a positive step. You are determined and moving toward your goal of becoming a published author. Now, continue to put in the TIME and the WORK and keep that DETERMINATION alive by considering the steps of revision and re-visioning as part of that path. Do not consider it discouragement, or anything else other than a step FORWARD toward your goal. You are bringing your manuscript where it needs to go to get YOU where you need to be.
Your critique is an investment in your career. So what if there is a lot of work to be done? Do the work. Each positive revision you make is a step closer to your goal!
Our journeys will not be the same. But most likely neither of us will be the extreme exception (as you can see I was definitely not) and it will take TIME and HARD WORK and DETERMINATION.
So if I had one other thought to leave you with it would be -- DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED. Stay on the path. The writers who reached the Finish Line are the ones who stayed on the path and did not give up. Pick yourself up, brush yourself off. Do the revisions. Re-vision the story if you have to and drive that story to the finish line. YOU can do it!
With Love and Support -- I Did This Thing and YOU CAN TOO!!!!
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Lynne Marie is the author of Hedgehog Goes to Kindergarten - illustrated by Anne Kennedy (Scholastic, 2011), Hedgehog's 100th Day of School – illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Scholastic, January 2017), The Star of the Christmas Play -- illustrated by Lorna Hussey (Beaming Books, 2018), Moldilocks and the 3 Scares -- illustrated by David Rodriguez Lorenzo (Sterling, pending) and Let's Eat! Mealtimes Around the World -- illustrated by Parwinder Singh (Beaming Books, 2019). You can learn more about her at www.LiterallyLynneMarie.com
To order the Star in the Christmas Play, click the title. Keep an eye out for MOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE SCARES, coming in August, from Sterling Children's Books!