Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Triumph Times Two!!

The Paper Waiters ended 2012 with a joyful bang - book contracts for Robin and Brianna! Their celebratory posts were delightful reading. Full of !!!!!.

Such stunning good news deserves a back story. Now that the confetti has been swept away, the band has packed up, and the fireworks are ash,  I'd like to ask Robin and Brianna a few questions.

1. How long did it take you to write the manuscript that just sold?

2. Who/what influenced your revisions?

3. Anything else about this success story you'd like to share?

So . . . take it away, Robin and Brianna.


  1. Thanks so much for asking these questions, Gale! Here are my answers:

    How long did it take you to write the manuscript that just sold?

    My picture book manuscript, Mystery at the Miss Dinosaur Pagaent was written and revised over the course of many years. I was excited to look back at our blog and discover a post I wrote about the many times I had revised this manuscript: “How Many Times Can I Revise 500 Words?”. Now I am thrilled to be able to share my happy ending to that long ago post.

    When that blog post left off, I was attempting to turn my rhyming picture book into prose. I worked on that attempt for a while longer. Eventually though, I decided that this manuscript really did need to be written in rhyme. So I went back to my rhyming version and polished it up once more. Then I did at least one more substantive revision to add depth to (and several stanzas about) my protagonist.

    Some time later, I signed with my wonderful agent and she loved my rhyming manuscript (Yay!). But she wanted me to polish it up further. She especially asked me to shorten up my ending. I went on for too many verses after my story was really over. At first it was hard to take away whole stanzas I loved, but soon I didn’t miss them.

    And currently, my wonderful editor, loved the manuscript and brought it to acquisitions. (Hooray!) She too has requested revisions. (She has such a wonderful vision for the manuscript, and I am so thrilled to be working with her on these revisions!)

    So, how many times CAN I revise 500 words?.... Obviously a lot!

    Who / what influenced your revisions?

    My revisions were influenced by so many wonderful critiquers including: my amazing critique group, The Paper Wait, my awesome agent, Teresa Kietlinski, super kidlit author, Cynthea Liu, and my wonderful new editor, Caroline Abbey.

    Thanks so much to all my awesome critiquers! You have all helped me to move the story forward in amazing ways!

    Anything else about this success story you’d like to share?

    I guess I’d just like to share a word of encouragement with everyone out there who is working on a story. Don’t be afraid to be yourself in your writing! That is what will make your story special and unique. Write the story that only you can write. And don’t be afraid of revision. Some of my stories required less revision, some more. But the many revisions I went through with this story made it the story it is today (which is incredibly better than the story it was in the very first draft!). Those revisions made it the story I’m so excited that you’ll be seeing in bookstores. Hopefully in 2014! Yippee!

    Thanks so much for letting me share!

  2. Thank you, Gale!! I'm still in the *pinch me* phase, not sure that ends...

    How long did it take you to write the manuscript that just sold?

    THE PROMISE OF AMAZING took me about a year and a half to write. There was some pre-planning, an outline, fooling around with scenes and a lot of staring off into space, but the serious nitty-gritty writing took about six months for the first draft and a year going back and forth revising with my agent until we thought it was just right.

    Who/what influenced your revisions? Brianna I relied on my fab critique partners and my amazing agent, Tamar Rydzinski, to steer me on the right course! The characters also heavily influenced my revisions!! One character in particular evolved in a way I hadn't seen him evolving. I LOVE when that happens!! I also run things by my son, who is my pop culture reference guru...he's sick of me asking "Would you say this?" but he's invaluable!! I'm currently waiting for my editorial letter from my editor, Donna Bray. I'm so excited to be working with her!!

    Anything else about this success story you'd like to share?

    If someone had told me it would take me 15 years of working on my craft and subbing to get to this point, I might have run away screaming!! And if I'd done that, it would have been my loss. I LOVE being a writer. Get giddy walking into a book store. Adore meeting other writers and swapping war stories. ENJOY the process. Every so often take a deep breath and be thankful for all of it. I know that sounds airy fairy, but that can get you through the roughest times. And publication isn't a destination - it's a continuation of the journey! I'm excited that I can say "my book comes out next year" but I know between now and then, there will be a lot to do!!

    And I'd like to give a shout out to my other 2014 debut authors!! You can check them out at

  3. Brianna and Robin, Thanks for answering my questions. We all like to bask in success!

    Revision? Never ending. First the critique group, then the agent and now an editor!

    Last question: do you think your book would have sold if you hadn't had an agent?

  4. Gale,
    Great idea for a post!

    Brianna & Robin,

    Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading about your paths to publication. And your words of encouragement were well appreciated. Congrats to you both!

  5. Gale - That last question....

    Do I think my book would have sold if I didn't have an agent?

    No. I can't say enough about working with Tamar and I think in the current climate of publishing having an agent is truly important. When I first started subbing, way back when, when snail mail was still the way to go, editors were more accessible. That's not to say you CAN'T make a sale without an agent but I think it's more difficult.

    Tamar was instrumental during every step of this process. I think it's important to note that my first manuscript which she subbed did not sell. As a newly agented writer, I was nervous this meant we'd part ways...on the contrary, she was incredibly helpful, encouraging me to write something new. From my first convoluted outline to our final edit before subbing, she was there to advise me along the way.

    Agents do more than just sell your manuscript for you. They advise. They nurture. They deal with your neurotic questions. They are your liaison and help sort out confusing contract terms!!

    I seriously could not imagine this happening without her!!

  6. Thanks, Sharon!

    And Brianna - WOW - Picture books are so difficult!! I can't imagine how hard it must be to revise 500 words, again, and again, and again. Well, and to have a story with 500 words!! It sounds like such a fun project!!

  7. Such an informative and inspiring blog! Thank you Brianna, Robin and Gale. So much good advice, I don't know what to say, except that... I'd better get back to my writing!

  8. Great last question, Gale!

    My agent was definitely critical to selling my book. Teresa worked with me to make sure the manuscript was as polished as possible before she sent it out. Then she sent it out into the world (something I was often reluctant to do on my own-- see my post on "submission indecision"). And because of her knowledge of editors and the industry, she was able to match my manuscript with the perfect editor!

    And I completely agree with Robin-- editors do so much more than sell your manuscript for you. Teresa is such a wonderful advisor and supporter of me and my work! Having this relationship with her is incredible!

    I definitely feel that I am very lucky as a picture book writer (who is not an illustrator) to have signed with an agent. And such an amazing agent as Teresa (who knows and loves picture books so very much!).

  9. Whoops! In that last post I meant "agents do so much more than sell your work for you". :o)

  10. Sharon and Julie-- So glad these answers were helpful and encouraging!

    Robin-- Loved reading your answers to Gale's awesome questions! And, oh my goodness, I think YA is sooooo difficult. I am so very impressed by what you do! (Believe it or not, I really do love revising 500 words over and over until I get them just right. :o) )

  11. Congratulations to Brianna and Robin. Happy for you ladies!

  12. Thanks so much, Robin and Brianna. And thanks to Gale for asking the questions. It's so important to remember to enjoy the process. It makes the rewards that much sweeter!