Sunday, March 2, 2014

Publishing the Giant Evolution Timeline: A Work in Progress

The wise ones say that when you are launching something new out into the world, the ratio of rejections to acceptances is 100 to 1. That's 100 rejection letters we have to rack up before we should even begin to hope for any returned love. My husband, a playwright, is probably up to fifty or sixty rejections for his scripts.

I am up to three. Oh, jeez.

The current plan for getting the Giant Evolution Timeline into the hands of everyone who wants one -- and I still get plenty of requests -- is to find a book publisher for it. A real publisher, the kind with logos and sales channels and marketing budgets and official stuff like that.

But lately I've learned some curious things about the children's book industry. For example, there is no such thing as a publisher with sales channels and marketing budgets and official stuff like that. Those days are gone. And that most publishers will only consider manuscripts that they requested directly or that come from a literary agent. Also that most publishers don't like author-illustrators. They want the author to provide the text only and then they pair it with the illustrator of their choice. Often the author and illustrator never meet.*

So I'm gamely shoving all that aside and looking for an agent. So far I've approached three, carefully following the bizarrely detailed instructions for how to send a Query Letter.** One sent a form rejection, one sent a personalized rejection that showed she did read it, and one sent a lovely, warm, thoughtful rejection that I will cherish forever.

Ah, me. I'll just keep sending these letters out. Why? Because a girl's gotta get to 100 rejections somehow.

*This is a depressing, chilly, and unpleasant truth that should never be revealed to children. Think of your favorite picture books. How perfectly intertwined are the words and the pictures! The author and illustrator must be old friends who love each other dearly and have shared many a glass of wine! But no. They are in an arranged marriage shaped by market forces. Perhaps they hate each other. Oh, no, please don't tell the children.

** Little did I know the sheer cosmic importance of The Query Letter. It has to be The Cheery Letter, never The Bleary, Weary, or Dreary Letter. Sometimes mine come out as The Beery Letter, which is not good. But I digress.


  1. Back in my younger days, I used to be an angsty poet. I used to stay up until nearly dawn with piles and piles of typed poems and my Poet's Market book and SASEs and records of which poems were being sent to which elitist publisher. I didn't want to let the rejection notices get to me so I wallpapered my desk area of the living room with them. It was oddly fulfilling! :) I matted and framed the acceptance letters and those did pile up, too, after a while. I highly recommend finding something suitably fun to do with those rejection letters, though. And good luck with the project. Keep plugging away. It's all we can do!

  2. Please for the love of sanity find someone to get this out into the world and into my home. We homeschool our 4 children because we are a military family that moves often and feel their educations would be tatters at this point otherwise but also because we are geeks with a love of learning. Do you have any idea how hard it is to be a homeschooling parent that isn't drinking the creationism kool-aid? Getting real science resources for evolution and prehistory that pull a child's interest in is hard and I can't be an expert at all things so I need the experts to put their best work out there! I need your timeline, like yesterday, and I know I am far from alone! Lets go girl, you have 97 more Query Letters to send out for one to accept this!

  3. We really really really want a giant evolution timeline!!! Is there any hope?