I wrote a novel. Now what? Mom and Dad liked it, but they’re not Simon & Schuster. What would someone who didn’t see my first baby tooth fall out think? Someone a tad bit less biased.
After researching how to get published, the logical next step was to find a freelance editor to help me polish, one who didn’t charge a thousand dollars a page. A writer friend gave me the name of her editor, and I wrote my first query letter, confident since I had an “in.” That day, I received my first rejection. Who knew I could get rejected at this stage?
Back to the world wide web. I found another Christian editor with a professional website and a lot of experience. Another try. Another no—this time from me. She was interested in working on my story, but charged way too much. I’d have to give up food shopping for a year to afford her help. My family might protest living on macaroni and cheese. But she did help me; she asked if I’d like her to forward my query to some other Christian freelance editors. Of course I said yes.
The next day I had seven emails—all interested. Now I had to decide.
My decision wasn’t too hard because I prayed that I would make the right choice. One woman stood out. Jeanette’s email letter was written well, and she connected to my story in a way I didn’t see in the other editors. Thanks to the internet, we could communicate from opposite coasts of the US.
I sent her my manuscript for an initial critique. And waited. Stared at walls. And waited. Checked emails a trillion times. And waited. In two days, I had it. My first critiqued novel.
Jeanette liked my story and the voice of the main character. She thought it could be great . . . BUT. . . it still needed a lot of editing and cutting. 60,000 words was too long for a middle grade novel, the target age she said my story was best for.
I sipped steaming vanilla flavored coffee from my favorite “with God all things are possible” mug and stared at the never ending comments on the side bar of my manuscript. Was this possible? How could I cut 10,000 words?
Jeanette showed me how to use track changes to show what I added and deleted. We emailed back and forth for a year, editing and reediting. She often told me an area I needed to fix and let me work it out before she polished my words. Jeanette became more than an editor; she became my mentor, helping me improve my writing skills.
She also helped me develop the thick skin I would need to handle many rejection letters. She always gave an honest opinion to make my story better. After a while, I could handle reading the chunks of red letters, highlighted mistakes, and comments without getting depressed. Jeanette found ways to encourage me.
Eventually, we cut 5,000 words and declared it ready for readers’ critiques. When children and teachers returned comments, I had to edit more. Would this ever be finished?
With God all things are possible. I finished the novel and wrote a query letter to an agent.
Jeanette was the first person I emailed to tell an agent wanted to see my manuscript. She was also the first person to hear it was rejected. She pushed me to keep sending and keep writing instead of waiting for answers.
In the meantime, while rejection letters piled up, and I considered using them as wallpaper, I sent Jeanette other stories and poems to edit.
My favorite email from her had a subject line reading, “you’ll need to sit down.” She showed one of my poems to an editor from Clubhouse Jr. Magazine at a Christian writers’ conference . . . and he loved it.
It took about seven months to get an acceptance in the mail. My first “Yes.” To make a long “waiting” story short, I just mailed a copy of the magazine with my printed poem to Jeanette with a thank you note. Now I need to lift a thank you up to the Lord for blessing me with an amazing editor and friend.
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