You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Corey Finkle’ tag.

by Corey Finkle

I wrote my first PB manuscript in 1999, and got my first publishing deal a mere twenty years later. I spent those two decades writing, attending critique groups, going to conferences, the whole shebang. And every time I interacted with a published author, I looked on them with a kind of awe. Somehow, these people were able to rise above it all. Were they better than I was, or did they know a secret to getting published that I hadn’t figured out yet?

Now that I’m on the other side, I can report that the answer to the above question is yes, there IS a secret to getting published. In fact, there’s an entire checklist of things you can absolutely do, right now, to propel yourself forward on the path to publication. That’s the good news.

The bad news is, at some point along that path, you need to get a lucky break. There’s no two ways about it.

Literally every author you know or have ever heard of, from Doctor Seuss to Mo Willems, had a moment in their lives when someone looked on their work in the right way, at the right time. I’m no exception. Here’s mine:

In 2015, I was having a great year. By July, I had five agents and a publisher considering my work, which had gotten into their hands through querying, paid critiques at writers’ conferences, and even a Twitter event. But by Thanksgiving, every single one of them had passed. I was so despondent by this that I vowed to take six months off querying so I could focus on my writing full-time. That led me to sign up for the Whispering Pines writers retreat, where at the first dinner I sat (entirely by accident) next to one of the VIP speakers. He was a senior editor for a major publishing house, and we soon discovered that we had also graduated from the same college one year apart, and had over thirty friends in common, despite having never met ourselves. At his request, after the event I sent him a manuscript (that I had developed from a Storystorm idea), and one week after he read it, I had three offers of representation (though my first sale wouldn’t come for another three years after that). Pretty lucky, right?

I am 100% positive that every published writer has a story like this, even if they don’t know it. They might not have recognized their lucky break when it happened (or shook hands with it like in my case), but at some point in their past, someone took a chance on them when they didn’t have to. It’s not as romantic as “meant to be,” but it’s the truth.

But here’s the trick: “getting lucky” is not entirely about luck.

Park View Middle School sign: "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity"

Years ago, I got a job offer out of the blue. When I told my aunt (a career counselor with her own published book!) about it, I marveled about how lucky this had been. She pushed back that, instead of luck, I should think of it as “planned happenstance.” In other words, meeting the man who offered me that job was luck, for sure, but I had been READY for that moment, due to my education and experience to that point.

My having personal ties to a publisher was absolutely a singular moment that propelled my writing career forward, but consider this: I had been writing picture books for over fifteen years, participating in critique groups, attending conferences, getting professional assessments of my work, even being part of events like #PBPitch, 12×12, and Storystorm. If I had met that publisher even a year before, it might have been just another setback to add to the list. Instead, I was ready, and good things happened.

Getting published is a journey, and for most of us, it can be brutal and disheartening at times (it’s the only field I’ve ever heard of where we celebrate when our rejections are worded nicely). But please PLEASE take my word for this: if you’re reading this right now, you are absolutely doing exactly what you need to be doing on your writing journey. You’re generating ideas, finding a tribe of supporters (this is also the only field I’ve ever heard of where we all truly celebrate one another’s success at every step), participating in events, and above all, you’re writing. Even if it feels impossibly long sometimes, I promise you that this is the path you need to follow, and by embracing it, you’re further along than you realize.

Don’t give up, don’t get discouraged, and learn from every triumph and mistake. If you do, then one day when that lucky break does occur, whatever happens next will have nothing whatsoever to do with luck. Or, to put it another way:


Corey Finkle wrote his first picture book manuscript as a senior project in college, spent ten years tinkering with and pitching it, and finally put it aside after realizing it wasn’t actually very good at all. He got his lucky break selling his first book, YOUR FUTURE IS BRIGHT, almost 20 years to the day after completing that senior project. His second published book, POP’S PERFECT PRESENT, comes out this May. When not working on his next manuscript, Corey spends his time writing business-y words for companies, playing board games, spending time with his wife and two kids, or collecting t-shirts from unusual or lesser-known sports teams. Visit him at and follow him on Twitter @cefinkle.

Corey Finkle is giving away two prizes to two people: one copy of YOUR FUTURE IS BRIGHT, and one manuscript review and/or Zoom career consultation.

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered Storystorm 2023 participant and you have commented only once on today’s blog post. ↓

Prizes will be distributed at the conclusion of Storystorm.

by Corey Finkle

Last month, I became a published author, a little over 20 years after I wrote my first manuscript. Now while I’d be lying if I said that I had been writing children’s books consistently throughout that time (my first manuscript was a college project; my second was for my then one-year-old son), it has still been undeniably long journey to this point, and amongst the congratulations and well-wishes I’ve received, there has also been a small but steady chorus of people thanking me for giving them hope as they “trudge” or “slog” away themselves.

These specific sentiments—equating writing and querying with drudgery—are very familiar to me, since I spent years feeling the exact same way, and brought to mind the best advice I ever got about my (and so many others’) publishing dream.

Like so many other writers, I spent years on the querying carousel, trying to convince myself that even negative responses deserved “champagne,” and being both happy and jealous of my friends as they found success. Even more maddening was that I kept seeming to get closer and closer to good news, before the other shoe dropped (one summer, I had six agents and a publisher interested in my work, only to have them all pass by Thanksgiving). Once I finally signed with an agent, the first book we subbed got no bites, the second one was taken to the “next round” by an editor before it fizzled, and the third one got a fabulous response from a publisher who wanted only a few tweaks before it would be taken to acquisitions. Six months and two rewrites later, they passed.

For my next book, my agent had me start completely over from scratch, with a brand new concept.  I found this extremely difficult, and my frustration boiled over in a notes session we had after I’d submitted a draft. He asked me why I was so upset, and I answered that, after getting so close to having my dream come true, I was just having trouble going all the way back to square one.

My agent set me straight. With every book we’d submitted, even though we hadn’t gotten a sale, we’d compiled a growing list of editors who’d expressed enthusiasm for seeing my next manuscript. And with every book I’d written, my skills had improved, so that he was seeing me more and more as a finished product, rather than a work in progress (my words, not his). I wasn’t starting over; instead, I was continuing along a path I’d started down the first time I set my sights on this goal.

He was proven right almost immediately. The book we’d been discussing eventually got finished and submitted, and while it didn’t sell, one editor liked my writing enough to ask if I’d be willing to take a stab at a concept he DID want to publish, and THAT was the book that was published last month.

Before that pep talk, I too saw the writing journey as a trudge. Countless rejections (when you get any response at all), a glimmer of positivity getting your hopes up, only to have them come crashing down again. And so on. But here’s the thing: while each of these events feels like separate episodes, they are in fact all parts of the same journey. Every book you write helps you grow your skills when you put pen to paper for the next one. Every person you meet or write to is another person you might make an impression on, or will remember you the next time. As long as you’re progressing, and open to feedback (both on your writing and otherwise), then nothing you do during this process will be a failure. I’m living proof.

So please, when you consider your own path, instead of focusing on the downturns, think instead about how far you’ve come, how much your skills have improved, and the great people you’ve met along the way. I think you’ll find a great deal of success there.

Blog readers, Corey has agreed to give a short coaching session to an aspiring author! Yes, your future is bright!

Leave one comment below.

A random winner will be selected soon!

Corey Finkle is a children’s book author and a copywriter. A member of SCBWI, his goal is to create books that kids will love to read and that adults won’t mind re-reading again and again. Born and raised in Gloversville, New York, he now lives in Providence, Rhode Island, with his wife and kids. YOUR FUTURE IS BRIGHT is his first picture book. Find out more at and follow him on Twitter @cefinkle.


Like this site? Please order one of my books! It supports me & my work!

Enter your email to receive kidlit news, writing tips, book reviews & giveaways. Wow, such incredible technology! Next up: delivery via drone.

Join 14,034 other subscribers

My Books

Blog Topics


Twitter Updates