Sunday, June 27, 2010

Good and Bad Rejections

JANICE:  I had hoped my next entry would be about the joy of a book acceptance, but it was not to be. You may think that a published writer and illustrator don't get rejected. They do — again and again, and it does not get any easier to take. Writing and illustrating children's books is not a career for the faint-hearted.

Within a week's time Tom and I have received two rejections, one good and one bad, on two different projects. A bad rejection feels like a body blow. It tells you nothing except that your book "does not fit our list." By now I know what I need is a good night's sleep. In the morning I get up and send the manuscript or dummy out again. But if that rejection is the good kind, the kind that has a critique, it gives you hope, glorious hope. Again, I get a good night's sleep, get up, and this time go to work, revising with the guidelines of the critique.

That is what happened with our picture book biography, I, Vivaldi, which was submitted to some 150 publishers (hard to believe but true). We had other projects going on, so we were not waiting to hear, which is vital to maintaining optimism. Quite a few editors gave helpful suggestions and the book just got better and better until one magical day I stepped out of the shower and the telephone rang. Wrapped in a towel I answered and heard a voice say, "We love your book and want to publish it." In that moment all 150 rejections were forgotten, and work began anew with this result.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Destiny in a Children's Book

JANICE:  You may remember a line from the movie, "You've Got Mail." Meg Ryan, whose character owns a children's book store, says, "When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does." Think back, what book stands out in your life, whether you are a child or a grownup?

*** Illustration by Ernest Shepard from Winnie the Pooh *** 

For me it was Winnie the Pooh in the original version by A.A. Milne. When Daddy read it to me, he enjoyed it as much as I did. I think I realized then that you don't have to grow up. You can keep that child in your mind. And thus, I came to write children's books.