Before the classes began yesterday, a successful young-adult author who was in her forties or fifties talked to us about getting published. She said that her first published book got rejected FIFTY FIVE times before it found a publisher. After it got published, it won all kinds of awards, and now it's going to be made into a movie.
Fifty five times. There aren't 55 publishers in existence, I think, but there are different imprints and different editors, and eventually she got to the right one. She also used early rejections to help revise the book (like I did with Carrie Pilby). Sometimes rejections mean the book isn't good enough to sell, and sometimes it's a matter of taste. She said you have to listen to your internal compass.
The other interesting thing she said was that she started the book when she was 23. She wrote four chapters and put it down. She wasn't able to start working on it again until she was 30. The book is in the voice of a 14-year-old girl, and she said she was able to remember what that was like when she was 23, but she wasn't old enough to write the rest of the book. When she was 30, she was finally old enough to have the perspective to finish it. "Nothing changed," she said. "I just got older."
Even though she was speaking to an audience of high school kids, what she said certainly spoke to me as well.