Today’s Path to Publication is by Emily Steward. Without further ado, here’s Emily…
Even before I knew what a writer was, I loved to tell stories. One of my first memories is telling bedtime stories to my mom and brother. After they fell asleep, I would continue to tell the story for a long time afterward. I even used to tell stories to God because I figured he got tired of just hearing everyone’s problems all day.
In kindergarten, I discovered the people who create stories are called writers. I decided then and there, that one day I would become a writer. My teacher was extremely encouraging and I attribute a lot of my early writing passion to her.
Over the years, my dream went by the wayside, but it was always in the back of my mind. After taking a few writing classes from a local college, I got the confidence I needed to feel like I had at least some talent.
I kept waiting for the perfect idea, or for inspiration to strike, but it never did. Finally, I’d had enough waiting and decided it was time. I started writing with nothing in mind except I wanted something magical to happen to this young boy named Bobby Brown. Well I managed to write nearly a third of my novel before I decided it might need some sort of loose outline. It took me several years and a lot of revisions including changing Bobby Brown to a girl named Penelope Gilbert (RIP poor Bobby) and switching my audience from young adult to middle grade.
When I was ready to start submitting my manuscript to agents, I drove down to the local office supply store and bought a bunch of manila envelopes, paperclips, and stamps. Then I went to the library and printed off several copies of my first chapter. I soon realized the majority of agents now prefer digital submissions. Oops! I think I sent one whole submission through the mail before I dropped that and started sending emails. At least I’m well stocked with manila envelopes and paper clips in case I have a postal emergency one day.
After a few weeks of sending queries, I received my first rejection. I was elated. It made me feel like an official writer! When I received my second and third rejections, it wasn’t quite as thrilling. But I knew this was all part of the process, so I pressed on. My inbox was soon full of lovely, (only slightly) soul crushing rejections.
I got a glimmer of hope when an agent requested my full manuscript. I continued to refine my book through critique groups and submit more queries while I waited for the agent with my full to get back to me. It took over a year before I heard back from the agent. No feedback, no comments, just a simple, “This isn’t right for me.” After that, I started delving into a new project, thinking my novel might just not be publishable.
That’s when I got some interest from a publisher during a contest. Well I’d been looking for an agent, but since I hadn’t gotten any takers, I thought I’d go for it. Plus, I loved the company and their cover art. We had a really good Skype chat, but they decided to put their middle grade lineup on hold. They were still interested enough to ask if they could contact me once they started putting out middle grade books again. That was tough to get my hopes up, but it was nice to know they still wanted it. Just not now.
After that, I finally got the email I’d been waiting for. An agent read my book in just a few shorts days. She loved it, and wanted to set up a time to talk! We scheduled the call and I read a bunch of articles on what to do when receiving “The Call” which is usually a call to see if you are a good fit before they offer representation. I tried not to get my hopes up, but all signs pointed to her becoming my agent. The day of the call, I got up really early because I knew her time zone was ahead of mine. I kept my phone at full volume while the morning turned to afternoon, and afternoon to evening. I was on edge all day, but the call never came.
That was really disappointing to say the least. I may or may not have wallowed a bit with a carton of ice cream and lots of chocolate.
Another opportunity came up to do a Twitter contest called Pit2Pub. I didn’t know if I was ready to go through it all again, but friend convinced me that I had nothing to lose. A publisher called Clean Reads asked for my work. I sent it in and a short time later had a response sitting in my inbox. I had to read and reread the simple message for what they were saying to actually sink in. “I think your book would be a great addition to Clean Reads. I’ve attached a contract below, email me if you have any questions.” I couldn’t’ believe it. Just like that? After all this time, just like that? Seemed too good to be true.
I researched the publishing company like crazy. When I felt comfortable, I took the plunge and signed. Now everything’s been a whirlwind. My husband Chad got to do the artwork, which may not have happened with another company, and I love the idea of being a part of a publishing house that puts out quality material without compromising their values.
My path to publication didn’t go exactly as I envisioned, but what in life does? There were a lot of ups and downs, and things in the publishing world move so incredibly slow. However, God had a plan all along. I just needed to be patient, and persistent. I love so many things about the company I signed with, and I think there are great things to come. Now I can finally say that I’m a published author! How great is that?
When 13 year-old Penelope Gilbert accidentally transforms into a stapler during math class, she’s sure she’s going crazy. But she’s not imagining the men in black suits now patrolling the halls at school, nor is she imagining the new substitute teacher who orders the class to take a special new test. A test that requires blood. Hunted for her powers, and torn from the life she knows, Penny is swept up into a world in the clouds where magic meets machine and pirates rule the sky.
Author Bio: Emily Steward spent the better part of her childhood dressed as a ninja and trying to convince others to call her ‘Ace.’ When she wasn’t saving the world from evil samurai, she could usually be found in the branches of a tree reading a good book. She now lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three daughters, and dog Bentley. Though she seldom dresses as a ninja now, her adventurous spirit remains as does her love of tree climbing and reading good books.
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