Friday, February 15, 2008


So after SCBWI, I was sure I was ready to submit my book. Agents, editors and publisher were just waiting for it. I was sure.

And then I got my first rejection. Too many typos to even read past the first page. And what's worse - I can't even see the typos - still - after a few read-throughs.

I had contacted an old agent who was once a publisher and have burned a contact. Sure, I'll probably be able to submit in the future, but it just feels sloppy, like showing up at a dinner with a dirty tie.

The solution?

A professional editor. No, I'm not here to take your money, or even to tell you where to spend it. But unless you're a natural editor, paying may be the best way to go. After having spent a year on the book, I can't see my spelling errors, much less catch small mistakes in logic I may have accidentally committed. While friends are great for an opinion, only an experienced editor is going to be able to give me the professional polish I need to get this past the gate-keeping eyes of other publishing veterans.

I only wish I could take back the first submission and start over.

Live and learn.

I had ready in many publications to read and read and read my manuscript over. But at some point, the saturation does me no good. So when you think your book is ready, give it away to someone who's never seen it, and get fresh eyes to mark up a fresh copy.

SCBWI Winter '08 - A Mouthfull

SCBWI or Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators is more than just a comprehensive organization name, it's a great conference. Packed tightly into the New York Hilton, the intensive 1.5 day conference was loaded to the rafters with speakers, agents, publishers, and other writers.

My roommate Chris and I crashed a publisher's party and met Jacqui Robbins, Bob Cochran, and Ro (Roe) who wasn't even attending the conference, but was celebrating his recent sale of "Herbert's Wormhole," a project he'd been shopping around for ten years. If that's not inspiring, I don't know what is.

The keynote speaker at Saturday's lunch was Carolyn Mackler who's speech was "My Life as a Teen Novelist." It should have been called "Letters from the Front Lines." Having never read her material, I was so touched by the letters she read that it moved me to suggest an archive of kid's letters as evidence against censorship.

My break-out session with Molly O'Neill's presentation on the brand new imprint - Bowen - was also inspiring. Mark McVeigh's session from his perspective at Alladin was enlightening. Susan Patron's speech on her run as a Newbery award-winner was exhaustive, funny, and - did I use the word inspiring yet?

I met a couple of agents, pitched my idea through business cards I had made up. They were a hit, and I'm waiting to see how my website does. I decided to put up a tagline, a synopsis and the first 5 pages, which is basically what everyone wants to see. Rather than emailing, or snail-mailign, I hope to cut down the time and the amount of paper out there. Which I'll cover more in the next blog.

SCBWI's summer conference is in Los Angeles, and I can't wait to save on hotel and airfare by living in the right city at the right time.

Lastly, Lin Oliver's introductions and m.c. duties were charming and disarming. She took the early morning fire alarm and made it something to laugh about. I'll definitely go back. It was a well-organized, warm event. And that's got to be from the top down. Accessible authors, agents and publishers all make SCBWI a place to both listen and ask questions.