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.