Your voice and style are unique, but unfortunately, this manuscript isn’t quite right for our list at this time. Whenever you have something else you’d like to share, I’d be most happy to read it.
I knew the rejection letter by heart, because I had been receiving the same letter from the same editor for three years.
My head told me to give up, but it was that last line, those final five words, that gave me that tiniest morsel of hope. And so, if she was “most happy to read it,” I was most happy to send it. Again.
In the meantime, I decided to take my writing in a different direction. A former TV weather forecaster, I had always wanted to write a nonfiction book for children about weather. I set to work on my manuscript. At the time, it seemed like a good idea to jam-pack all of my knowledge into one enormous book. My manuscript was filled with exciting trivia, ancient folklore, fascinating questions/answers, original poetry, and even illustrations. How could any editor say "no" to that?
Well, 24 did.
But the 25th was Melissa Stewart at Grolier (now Scholastic). Needless to say, she wasn’t interested in my colossal book of all-things-weather either, but she did appreciate my writing style and credentials. Melissa wrote to ask if I would consider writing four weather books in a nonfiction series for the Franklin Watts imprint. Yes, yes, yes, and yes! The first title that I was paid to write was Clouds (The Water Cycle, Storm Chasers, and Rain, Hail, and Snow soon followed, and the series was published simultaneously).
A week after the offer from Grolier, I received an envelope from my Most-Happy-to-Read-It fiction editor. My stomach did a flip as I contemplated the 'no' I was certain was inside. But I was wrong. This letter was different. This time, the editor liked my story of an ordinary middle child trying to find her place in her family and in the world. She wanted to do a series. Did I want to do one, too? Yes! And Julep O’Toole was born.
After five years of depressing 'no's,' within two few weeks, I had garnered five wonderful 'yes's!' Grateful to both genres for offering me a home, I have been writing fiction and nonfiction books ever since (74 published, so far).
Looking back, I now see what I couldn't before. The simple truth was that I wasn't ready for publication. The 'no's' had to happen so I could learn how to listen, take constructive criticism, and perfect my craft. If you are waiting for publication, and frustrated by rejection, keep the faith. Keep working. Keep writing. Keep trying new things. Most important, learn from every 'no'. And when the time is right, your 'yes' will come.