One Fiftieth

I am as shocked as these two squash that it is already almost the middle of January.

s squash

The holidays zipped by and 2019 came crashing through–ready or not.

January is a favorite month of mine. I love new starts, new calendars, and fresh planners. As soon as the Christmas decorations are tucked away for their rest, I’m eagerly planning the days and weeks to come, setting goals, and clearing out the old to make way for the new.

I’ve got some personal goals, but I’ve also got writing goals. One of those goals is listed as:

50 rejections, an agent, or a book deal.

It might seem strange to have the goal of being rejected, but here’s what I mean: if I don’t get a literary agent or a book deal this year, it won’t be because I didn’t try my darndest. I’m pleased to say I have already completed ONE FIFTIETH of this goal. Last week I sent my book Justin’s Cupcakes to a new agent at a new agency. Each time I send my work, it means I must complete the following:

–Research agents and agencies using the internet and industry lists (these come in a book that is updated each year and also from an organization of which I’m a member–the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).

–Select an agent and be sure that the agent is accepting submissions and would be interested in a book like mine.

–Carefully craft a query letter that introduces me and my book in the most positive way possible. This letter is crucial–not too many words, not too few. It has to convince someone to read my manuscript AND want to sell it to a publisher.

–Proofread the letter many, many, many times, because careless errors are an easy way for agents to narrow down their slush piles.

–Include or attach my manuscript according to the agency’s requirements (and they are each very different).

–Hold my breath.

–Press send.

–Track my submission on a detailed spreadsheet I’ve created to monitor what I’m sending, when, and to whom.

I’ve promised myself I’ll do this at least 50 times this year, and collecting rejections (though it’s not fun to read “no thanks,” means that I’m not giving up, that I believe in my work–that I believe in myself.

All of this is to encourage you–and me–to have goals and to be persistent and steadfast in your efforts to meet them. ONE out of fifty doesn’t seem like much, and it would be easy to focus on how far there is to go. But even if it’s only one mile, one pound, one book, one garbage bag full, one less cigarette, one class, one smile or hug: it’s one step toward your goal, and it’s the most important one, so give it the credit it deserves.

Today, we are all only about three and a half percent through 2019. The number is small, but these days have mattered, and we are on our way.

We have begun.


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