Thanks to Molly Blaisdell for this guest post and candid story about writing, rejection and publication. After a many queries, reviews, revisions and a persistent belief in a good idea, her new YA book, Plumb Crazy, released June 4.
It’s not belief in an idea that leads to publication. A solid idea is necessary first step, but you will need to take many more steps to see a book published. It took me years to see my book Plumb Crazy come to publication. I hope that my journey will help you on yours.
I absolutely love reading, and I know that readers want heartfelt books. I’m always haunting bookstores, blogs and websites in search of my next great read. I wanted to write a book that would be picked up again and again. I hoped to create an old friend to journey with readers through their lives. I know that a good book has an irresistible core idea. I put much effort into this core idea.
After much thought, I landed on Elva Presley Hicks, and a high school summer when she worked as a plumber’s helper, suffered worldwide fanfic humiliation and found true romance. With an irresistible idea in hand, I wrote a book that left something of me on the page. I fell off the couch laughing at one point when I was writing my book. I also cried buckets several times. It was an epic experience like climbing a Mount Everest. There are no words for the joy of holding that first manuscript in my hands. I’d put my heart and soul on the page.
It was time to plunge into the next step. I began taking my manuscript (my heart and soul) to some writers’ conferences and getting feedback from various industry professionals. I also took it to critique group. I learned that the bones were good, but I had work to do. One particular email from an editor at well-known publishing house pointed out that I had packed too many hefty events into my story and each could carry a novel. She loved parts of my book but found it was “weedy.” I had a very painful revision ahead, and I ended up cutting out a third of the manuscript.
Now I was ready. I was determined to get an agent and worked hard on my queries. I sent out 63 queries over a couple of years. I received over a dozen full manuscript requests. I kept hoping for that yes but everyone said no. I felt like a failure, but decided to reframe the whole thing with a positive spin. I pulled up each rejection email and read it in a positive light. I wrote down everything positive that had been said about the manuscript in those 63 rejections. I focused on the positive like: “promising premise,” “admire your writing,” “marketable premise,” and “sharp dialogue and vivid descriptions.”
That’s just a tiny bit of all the good things so many gate keepers had to say to me. One agent even wrote she loved the book, she just couldn’t sell it. She also suggested that my book might not be for children. I had dismissed this when I first received the rejection but I realized this statement might be something positive. I took this advice to a writer I implicitly trust, and she agreed, that the agent was possibly right. I was stunned. My book might connect with adults? I decided to just think about it and with focus on an emerging market called new adult. A few weeks later I revised the first and last chapter of the book to suit this new market.
But I was at new low in terms of moving forward, all that rejection hung over me like a cloud. A friend suggested that I join the The Insecure Writers Support Group for support as I move forward with my work. This group suggested small publishers, epublishers and self-publishing. These were three options I had not explored. I began to research these three markets and decided that I connected with the “small publisher” and the “digital first” imprint model. I sent out to five companies with the same basic query that I had used with agents and received several requests for the manuscript. I had an offer within six weeks, and now Plumb Crazy is on NA/YA cross-over available at Swoon Romance, a digital first imprint of the Georgia McBride Media Group.
In closing, success was a matter of an irresistible idea, writing the book, revising when offered editorial feedback, taking the positive from many rejections, using my network to find opportunities, and being open to alternatives to my publishing dream. I had to give up some dreams, like an agent to find my way. This was my journey. I hope that in some small way it will inform yours. I hope that you find good success.
A dash of fun, mixed in with some smart cookie and a splash of capable, Molly started her first fan-fiction group in junior high and never stopped writing. Today, she writes about geeky girls with lofty dreams and about the absolute craziness of falling in love. Her debut novel is Plumb Crazy, a NA/YA romantic comedy. She’s also the author of 30 books for children and hundreds of articles. You can find her and her books at MollyBlaisdell.com.