John Briggs Books

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The Long Road to Publication: Patience & Persistence

I have long said that authors are not paid for their words, they are paid for their perseverance. When it’s easy to give up, good writers stick with it, improve their craft, and overcome that stack of rejections.

At least that’s my story.

It took six years to get my first picture book published, which meant:

  • Eight years of writing them
  • Six years of submitting
  • Twelve picture books before I got one right
  • Sixty-plus rejections

If that doesn’t sound long enough, this is where the story gets truly bizarre — and shows that a lot of patience (and a little perseverance) pays off.

I sent the  manuscript to Sterling Publishing in late 2012, a few months before Barnes and Noble, which owns Sterling, announced they were selling the company. Sterling quickly said they were no longer acquiring manuscripts, and just like that, my book was out of the running. At least it hadn’t been rejected!

A few months later, Barnes and Noble announced it was pulling Sterling off the market. I waited a few months before writing Sterling to see if anyone read my story.

I received no response and decided to let it go.

A year and a half later, I get an email out of the blue from Executive Editor Meredith Mundy at Sterling. She said she loved the story, had taken it up through all the proper channels, and wanted to buy it.

I sold my first picture book!

So where was the manuscript all that time?

Sterling's offices on the Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue)

Sterling’s offices on the Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue) in New York City

Well, funny story. When Sterling went up for sale, all unread manuscripts were tucked away in boxes. Many of those boxes, it seems, were forgotten (hey, editors are busy enough trying to read new manuscripts, let alone old ones). Nearly two years later, Sterling moved into new offices on the Avenue of the Americas, where those boxes were discovered. Meredith, to her credit, didn’t ignore them — she actually dove in and read them. And voila! My manuscript passed the test.

So, that’s it. The story is all of 500 words, meaning my advance is not really paying me for my words, it’s paying me for my perseverance. It’s paying me for not giving up, even when I wanted to. It took a lot of hard work and a lot of patience, but it paid off.

Now, to send her my next manuscript!

Leaping Lemmings!, illustrated by Nicola Slater, will be published in the fall of 2016.

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4 comments on “The Long Road to Publication: Patience & Persistence

  1. alanasiegel
    August 31, 2015

    Patience is a virtue. 😉

  2. David Bancroft
    September 3, 2015

    Great story John. It is inspirational to those of us who sometimes are impatient and expect immediate results. I hope you enjoy the success and have many more books published in the future (maybe in a little shorter timeframe).

  3. Pingback: Getting Your Book Published: Labor, Luck or Kismet? | John Briggs Books

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This entry was posted on August 29, 2015 by in Children's Books and tagged , .
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