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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!

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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.


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