Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Changing stories

A publisher I queried for one of my children's books replied with a rejection. I'm thinking it's a good thing because now I'm seeing the book differently.

I haven't lost my passion for this book. I believe it is an original enough story to stand out among the thousands of other children's books out there and I know that some children would enjoy it. Well, perhaps children of Native American descent, anyway. (It's a Native American story.)

But what's different now is how I'm thinking it should be presented. I was going over the earlier drafts of the story the other day and realized something: Not only is it long but it's also got scenes that could be broken into mini chapters. You know, like with Stuart Little. (Adult or no, I still love that book.) And since it's for the 8-12 age group, maybe making it a first-chapter book would work out well for it.

It's just an idea. I think that ultimately, the publisher would decide if it should be printed as I have it formatted now or if it should be a mini-chapter good.

Just one of those instances when rejection can be a good thing. Gives the writer a chance to reexamine the book. Ask themselves if it's the absolute final draft and if it's how they want the book to be.

Sometimes, though, this can be a bad thing. I’ve heard of writers meeting with rejection then frantically taking their manuscript through the nth rewrite. While I’m tempted to do the same (I am soooo worried that some references I have included in this story would actually insult Native Americans), I realize that you can rewrite your story to death and it still might get rejected. I mean, take the case of agents and publishers rejecting your query. Without seeing a single word of your manuscript. Unless you’re including your first three with the query, don’t bother rewriting it for the millionth time. Why? Because that’s going to seep out to the rest of your manuscript, which the agent or publisher will notice. It’ll also prove hazardous in other ways: You can’t stop rewriting the same manuscript over and over, even after it’s published. It’ll show a lack of confidence on YOUR part in your ability to write something you’re ready to submit. And it’ll keep you from working on your next book.

So, the rejection can be good. And it can be bad. I don’t really know if the children’s book is 100% ready; the only person who beta read it is my older sister. And I’m still debating over whether I should make it a first-chapter book.

Still, I'm thinking that actually getting an acceptance for this book would be a whole lot better than the chance to see if it needs some kind of change. The hunt for a publisher continues.


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