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  • Annette M. Clayton

Path To Publication

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

My path to publication has been a wild ride, filled with unexpected plot twists and turns. So get ready. Please place all items securely underneath your seat. Buckle your safety harness. And brace yourself for a roller coaster of emotions.

Okay, that's pretty dramatic, but you get the idea.

If your not a part of the writing universe (which is a strange, mystical little place) you might not know this, but, getting a book deal is really-really-really hard.

See actual footage of me when people ask "how hard is it to write a kids books anyway? They're so short, I mean, it looks pretty easy."

In fact, I equate it to trying to break into the entertainment industry, because um, it is part of the entertainment industry and it is that hard.

Think everyone who wants to sing makes millions and becomes the next Keith Urban? Nope! For the most part, your doing Keith Urban renditions at your local pub during happy hour for fifty bucks a pop.

But the truth is, most of us writers out there do it not for the fame and glory, but for the love of all things wordy and nerdy. Stories play out in our minds like movie reels. Stories that fester and bubble inside us, begging to be released unto our word docs.

For me, it all began on my thirtieth birthday, which was, a doozy. Why, you ask? I don' splow?! A lot just hit me at once. I was like, what am I doing career wise??? Why didn't I ever pursue my dreams of writing?

I really took time to re-examine my life. I had a wonderful family, but creatively, I was unfulfilled. I was never one of those people searching for the meaning of life or questioning my own existence, like some sort of hippie! (Just kidding hippie's, I love you).

Plus, admitting I was unfulfilled felt, weird and selfish. After all, shouldn't I just be grateful for what I have and quit whining? But you know what I discovered? Writing makes me a better mom, wife and person. I'm happier than I've been in years. Everyone needs a creative outlet or hobby, whether it's yoga, knitting, photography, or fantasy football, everyone needs their thing, and there's nothing wrong with taking time for yourself.

Okay, so back to the journey.

I approached my husband with an idea..."Hi there, I'd like to spend a lot of our money and go to grad school and study writing, specifically, children's literature. How do you feel about that?"

And he was like, "You go girl! We will make it work!"

Okay, he didn't actually say, you go girl! But he was SUPER supportive and wonderful!

And off I went...

For two years, I worked like mad, writing papers, reading, writing on my own, and still working full time and taking care of our two wee-little ones. I took classes year round with no summer breaks.

I wrote a young adult novel and lots of kidlit. I joined writing groups. I went to writing conferences. Finally, I started submitting my work to agents and editors.

I got rejections, a lot of them. I lost count I got so many.

But I'm proud to say, I handled them all with dignity and grace.

And I never gave up. That is the key my friends! Every author I have ever had the pleasure of speaking with, heard many no's before they got that first yes.


I wrote a young adult novel and the feedback from my critique group and agents was well...(um)'s.just.not.working. It had too much going on. It wasn't well plotted. Bummer...I let it go. I moved on. I learned a lot from that experience.

I'd written a lot of picture books as well, but they were just kind of sitting there. I had an idea rolling around in my mind for a year about an adult romance novel. I thought, could I write romance? Dare I try? I'd only taken one romance class before. But I decided, what the heck, and tried. I read LOTS of category romance to prep myself. Then I put pen to paper and I was amazed because I had a novel done in six months! As a comparison, I worked on my YA for four years. I polished it, sent it to a few writing buddies for feedback, polished again and again, then sent to a handful of agents. I got a few rejections. Then a few requests for more pages! That was exciting! For those of you people in the non-writing universe, usually an agent will ask you to initially send them about ten pages and a query letter. If they like what they see, they will ask for the whole novel, then either accept or reject you. Then, lo and behold, there, staring at me in my inbox is an email from an agent and she "liked my voice."

GASP! She asked to set up a phone call with me! Double GASP!! We talked and she offered to represent me! Triple GASP!!!

She sent my romance novel off to a publishing house. And I waited and continue to wait.

In the meantime, I began writing and plotting out my next book. Because that is 85% of the publishing game, WAITING. I'll talk about that in a different post, but you wait for feedback anywhere from six weeks to one year. If you don't have patience you will not make it in this industry.

Then, not long after I signed with my agent, another email...

A publisher read my picture book about Three Kings Day. They wanted to schedule a call with me. Say what? They liked it!?!? Before I knew it, I was signing a contract for my first book deal.

Yasssss! I was amazed, astonished! It was one of many things I'd written and something, quite honestly, I didn't have high hopes for. I wasn't sure if people would care about my take on a little know holiday. Someone did care!

In the fall of 2021 my debut picture book will hit shelves. What will I do with the next two years while I await that glorious moment? Write more books of course!

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Annette M. Clayton

Writer of Children's Books. Lover of Grumpy Cat. Sweatpants Enthusiast

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