There are plenty of legendary stories about how many times Dr. Suess’s MULBERRY STREET and Madeleine L’Engle’s WRINKLE IN TIME were rejected. (Both were around forty!) Such tales tend to give hope to struggling writers everywhere. My friend Jeanie Ransom had a rather epic number of submissions for her divorce book, I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT. But she believed strongly in her story despite the rejections. Magination Press eventually had the wisdom to pick it up. This picture book has been selling well ever since and is found in may recommended lists like the one in DIVORCE FOR DUMMIES.
So the fifteen or so rejections that I received on SUSPECT between 1999 and 2001 does seem quite small by comparison. But I did hit every publisher in the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market that listed mysteries as one of the genres that they were interested in looking at. When I reached the end of this list, it was time to tuck the manuscript into the desk drawer for at least a little while. I was busy writing on the manuscripts that would eventually turn into SAVING THE GRIFFIN and DEFENDING IRENE. But I didn’t give up entirely on the project.
In 2004, I saw an opportunity to submit to a specific editor at a “closed” house, one that usually only took agented manuscripts. I did a few light revisions and updates to reflect some changes in technology and then prepared a query letter. Then I sent the package out. After reading the query letter and the first fifty pages, my targeted editor agreed to look at the project. In the end, she declined with a few kind words about my project. But the experience actually gave me confidence that I did have something interesting going with SUSPECT. This woman had edited more than one Edgar-award winning project. She must have seen something there or she wouldn’t have devoted several precious hours to reading and considering my book.
Novelists learn things with every book they write. Between 1999 and 2005, I had finished four new manuscripts. So I was ready to make more changes to my book when I saw another opportunity.