Do not try to adjust your monitors. I have, in fact, temporarily taken over Adventures in Children’s Publishing. Mwahahaha! Okay, seriously? I’ve been asked to guest blog - to share with you my story and the surprises I’ve had along the way. So here goes…
My name is Lisa Gail Green and I’ve been writing basically my whole life, starting at age seven. I’ve done many different things since then, always with the idea in the back of my mind that one of these days I’d be a writer. The nice thing is that just about anything you do in the “real world” can help prepare you for a career in writing. Case in point? I was an actress. “Bah! Completely frivolous,” you say? No way. I have a handle on character. I get inside my characters’ heads and not coincidentally, tend to favor first person in my manuscripts. It also helps with natural dialogue.
Just under a year ago (don’t shoot me, please) I joined SCBWI. That was probably the best thing I’d ever done. I took advantage of every board, every conference, every workshop, and quite simply every resource I could. I immersed myself and learned the “business” side of things. I learned all about how I’d been sending out horrifyingly embarrassing query letters before my manuscript was ready. I learned all about the “rules” of writing and when it might be okay to break them. But most importantly, I learned that overwhelmingly, the people in this business, whether agents, editors, or other writers, are kind and supportive and absolutely AMAZING.
So, I started querying (for real this time). I joined my beloved critique group. I took Jill Corcoran’s workshop on the subject. I started publishing in online magazines, which raised my self-esteem and gave me something to put in that dreaded bio paragraph. I also started reading like crazy in my genre.
My agent didn’t pull me from the slushpile – though I beg you not to discount it as impossible. I met Rubin Pfeffer of East-West Literary (sorry guys, he only takes clients by referral, though you can hear him speak at this year’s SCBWI LA conference) through a mutual friend. He even said in the email in which he offered me representation that this is “not the typical outcome of introductions of writers to publishers or agents when made by friends.”
The thing was, I had still done what I was supposed to. I polished my manuscripts (by this time I had two plus a WIP), pumped myself up and braved the world announcing that I am a writer (which led me to my connection with Rubin), and approached him in the professional manner I’d taken the time to learn about. I sent a query letter, as I would have to anyone else. He asked me for quite a bit of info after that – info on me, on my books, my characters, comparison books, and marketing. Finally he asked to see my other work.
Then he offered to represent me. I was at my in-laws at the time and I still think they believe me to be completely unhinged. I was hysterical. See, I’d done my homework and I knew exactly who Rubin was (a former senior VP from Simon and Schuster’s children’s division for starters). After I collected myself off the floor, walls, and ceiling, I went right back to researching what to ask, how to handle other queries I’d had out, etc.
I signed up and met with both Rubin and Deborah Warren, the founder of East West. They are both amazing people. I am truly happy with my choice (or maybe I should say happy that he chose me). Through Rubin’s encouragement I joined the blogosphere. That in turn led me to Twitter and joining groups like Verla Kay’s Blueboards, The Enchanted Inkpot, and The Undead Poets Society. All of these actions allowed me to meet even more wonderful people.
Two months after signing with Rubin and after further revisions (you’re never done, my dears) my babies were out in the world, in the hands of editors whom I would never have been able to reach if I’d sent out my own work. So far, I’ve had a couple of very nice rejections and one editor who is going to send me revision notes in exchange for an exclusive on one of my manuscripts (told you you’re never done). So keep your fingers crossed for me!
Basically, I credit a strange combination of luck and willingness to understand how the publishing industry works for getting me this far. If I’m talented too, maybe I’ll even get a book out there! And how cool would that be? But until then, I’m having a blast and finally thrilled to know where I belong.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!