Today I want to talk about commitment.
Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar: you wake up one morning from a fantastical, sparkly dream about unicorns and rainbows, and tell your partner about it at the breakfast table. Your partner says, "You should really turn that into a children's book!" You think, "I could definitely write a children's book about this," and so you draft a manuscript, show it to a couple of people, and BOOM! you've got yourself a children's picture book ready to go. Publish. This. Now!
Except...well...that's not really how it works. The picture books you see on shelves at the library and bookstore have taken months to years to write, and sometimes whole careers to craft. Then they can take several years to publish (more on that process another time). Children's book writing--unlike brain surgery or urban planning--is not something one dabbles in. 😉
As many of you are fully aware (and lament!), the publishing business is a very difficult one to break into. The chances of selling a picture book manuscript on the first try is incredibly slim. There is a lot of rejection. There is even rejection after wild success. Jane Yolen, who has published over 300 books for children (some of them bestsellers) still gets rejections (and tweets about it!). It doesn't take one morning to draft a publishable manuscript. Children's book authors write and revise and toss in the bin many, many unpublishable works before they get to the good stuff. Wildly popular author Neil Gaiman sometimes takes several years to write one children's book (and also...tweets about it!). I have clients who have come to me after writing picture book manuscripts for over 10 years without having sold any of them, and you can tell--meaning, their writing is good. Those writers are just getting better and better, learning with each draft.
Children's book publishing is a loooooong game and it's hard work. I care about you guys, so I want to make sure you're aware of that before you decide to wake up one morning and write a children's book. You've got to commit to the process and the craft. In the words of the great philosopher, Beyoncé: "Put a ring on it!"
This is all to say, though, that the act of writing for children is viable unto itself. Just finishing a manuscript for children is a success. Revising it is even more so. And then writing the next one. And the next one. And the next one. And if you happen to craft a story one day that becomes a published book, that's amazing!
Do you need help making your unicorn dreams come true? Get in touch with me over at Alli Brydon Creative to discuss hiring me as your picture book editor and writing coach.