Celebrating the First Completed Page (the Journey So Far Part 1)

This was an exciting week – I received my first completed page of The Adventures of Princess and Goose Book 1: Chase Away the Dragons. I’ll share the publishing journey so far before sharing the final page and the artistic process that led up to the page.

I started to focus on writing a full story in October 2019. I didn’t have any experience writing a children’s book. I had a few general ideas of what I wanted to write about, only I didn’t have the whole idea worked out. My writing method was pretty simple – as my son (three years old at the time) napped on me, I would use speech to text on my phone to jot down some ideas and a basic script.

I worked on the text over the next few weeks. I had (what I thought at the time) were a few good stories. I sent the first book to friends and family for feedback, read multiple revisions to my children, and eventually ended up with a final script.

Now what? I can’t draw, so I started to search for an artist. My first email to a prospective artist was on December 21, 2019. We had met at a comic book convention a few years prior and had kept in touch. He was (and still is) a very talented artist and I commissioned a sketch from him at that show. Unfortunately for me (and great for him), his talent was recognized by a larger audience. After waiting for several months for him to finish his current projects, his own comic was picked up for national distribution, so he was no longer available to work on my project.

I looked online for a new artist for several months, with no success. One of the prospective artists mentioned the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), so I joined the group and started to do a lot of reading about publishing a children’s book. This was July 2020. Seven months and nothing to show for it yet.

After doing quite a bit of reading on their site, I decided that a traditional publishing route would be the best way for my series to get published. I wouldn’t have to find an artist, as most publishers will choose the artist, and I would benefit from the distribution options in a crowded children’s book market.

The first step in this new process (after having a completed manuscript), was to find an agent to represent me and sell my book to a publisher. SCBWI has a great listing of agents, including details of which agents will take new authors, their fee structure, and other important pieces of information. The best way I can describe this process is like applying for a job. After thoroughly researching the agent, you write a query letter that describes why you’d like to work with the agent. It’s similar to the cover letter that you’d write for a job application. Each agent has different availability for accepting unsolicited manuscripts, different query letter requirements, and specific information you should include with your submission. Generally, the submission included the query letter and manuscript. I submitted my first query letter and manuscript on July 17, 2020.

The submission process to literary agents is a bit frustrating and completely opaque to submitters. Agents could be closed to submissions, or just some types of submissions. Agents could have a staff member review the query letter and never see it themselves. An agent could review the query letter and not read the manuscript. An agent could read the query letter, then the manuscript, before deciding not to take you on as a client. Is anyone reading the submission? There’s no way to know. I submitted 12 query letters and manuscripts over the next few months. To this date (November 2021), I have received two rejections from those submissions and nothing else.

Given the difficulty in understanding where I was failing in the process, I decided to take a break from submitting query letters and, instead, attended a paid workshop to get written feedback on my query letter and manuscript. This was in November 2020, almost a year after starting the process.

The workshop included recorded sessions on both query letter and manuscript preparation. I took notes, made updates to my material, and submitted them to the agent. There was also a Q&A session, which was very helpful as a new, aspiring author. I didn’t receive any feedback on my query letter and only three comments on my manuscript. While not critical of my story, they were very helpful and I used the feedback to completely rewrite my first book. Although I later made a few revisions as I worked with my new illustrator Tony on the artwork, my manuscript was mostly finalized.

With my updated manuscript, I submitted material to six more literary agents. I submitted my last query letter in May 2021. To this date (November 2021), I have received one rejection out of those six submissions. After a year and a half, I still hadn’t made any real progress on publishing my book.

I’m finally getting close, two years after I started the process. Working with Tony has been great, and you’ll hear the rest of my publishing journey in a later post.

Shown below: the final character design for Queen Isabella, the final rough page layout, final line art, preliminary colors, and final page.

You can read the next blog in this series here: Celebrating the Halfway Point (the Journey So Far Part 2)

3 thoughts on “Celebrating the First Completed Page (the Journey So Far Part 1)

  1. Pingback: World Building - Flat Mountain Publishing

  2. Pingback: Celebrating the Halfway Point (the Journey So Far Part 2) - Flat Mountain Publishing

  3. Pingback: Book 1 is Done (the Journey So Far Part 3) - Flat Mountain Publishing

Comments are closed.