Some years ago, having read a few how-to get your children’s books published sorts of books, and having completed what I thought was my first picture book story, I was rearing to go. I got the right kind of envelopes, and the right kind of SASE folded in the right kind of way, along with crisp copies formatted just as the how-to books said, and mailed them to six small publishers. Small, because the how-to books suggested that a beginner had a better chance with small publishers.
The first rejection came only ten days later. It contained a hand written note saying the story was “lovely” and “well written,” but made a suggestion to break it into many short stories. “You have too much here” said the editor.
“Keep writing” was her sign-off line. No invitation to re-submit.
All I could think back then was how this editor only took ten days to say NO. Really, she hadn’t given it much of a chance, had she? Nice enough of her to put a personal note, though.
That bit of quick turnaround turned out to be the last time I would get a personal rejection for two blasted years. It sustained my continued effort to write, as form rejections continued in a seemingly barely punctuated stream. I wrote other stories and made submissions to small and medium and large publishers, and in those halcyon days only a few years back, you were almost sure to get a reply of some sort if you included an SASE. My SASE showed up regularly in my mailbox. They were the one sure thing.
Looking back, my first failure turned out to be a sustaining success. We often don’t know it at the time, but I bet you have some reflections that echo the same.