Today My First Book Gets Published!

I’m feeling a little overwhelmed today with feelings of gratefulness (and shock) as I look back on how I got to this day. I’ll recap for you, in a somewhat (not really) shortened version, my path to publication…

In 2002, my son was born and a few months later (once I got him into some sort of a napping schedule) I started writing fiction for children in my “spare” time. Within a few months, I had the beginnings of a story about two kids named Trevor and Libby who try to make it through their first day of middle school. It was a wonky little story with quizzes and interviews and diagrams. (I mention this first story of Trevor and Libby because it will come back around much later, I promise.)

I took it to my first writers’ meeting at the beginning of 2003 and there I met other children’s book writers. They invited my to join their critique group and I met with them every other week. I also met with another children’s writing group on opposite weeks, which met on the top floor of Barnes & Noble on Friday nights. Since my husband worked nights, I took the baby with me and rocked him in his stroller while I read my Trevor & Libby story out loud hoping he’d sleep long enough for me to get some feedback from these oh-so-helpful people.

I’ll stop for a moment here and say, I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for those critique groups. They studied their craft and loved sharing their knowledge—I am so incredibly thankful for them.

Once I had a story, I submitted my Trevor/Libby book to editors and received great response, even worked on a major re-write of the manuscript with an editor, but in the end…no contract.

Eventually, I went on to get an agent and while we were subbing, I wrote another middle grade book. We submitted both books over the course of two years, getting “close” a few times. Again, I worked with an editor on re-writes for Trevor/Libby (two rounds) for about ten months. When it was in great shape and the editor was happy with it, she took it to the meeting. Woohoo! But found out the publisher wanted to focus on YA now, not middle grade.

Schreech. 

I’ll be honest. Even though I’d gotten many rejections over the years, I’d finally come to the moment where I was devastated—totally, utterly devastated. I cried. For days. I ate so much fried chicken I didn’t think I’d ever eat it again. (I have, but it still just isn’t the same.) I thought for sure my opportunity to get published had passed. I was ready to give up.

But my writing friends encouraged me. They told me to keep knocking at the door. And to be patient.

So I got back to work and started writing again. I can’t really explain why, but I started writing…and kept writing…like Forrest Gump running across the country.

I wrote a serious teen book.

I wrote a middle grade science fiction book.

I wrote a funny girl chapter book.

 

Run, Forrest, run!!

 

Again, we got close several times, but still…no contract.

But even after all those years, everyone along the way was so encouraging. One editor even contacted my agent to say she loved my writing and she felt it was going to happen for me someday…but I just hadn’t found my project yet.

Well…one day my agent said she’d heard from an editor that they were looking for funny teen fiction.

“That’s you. I think you can write funny teen. Try it.” I vividly remember my agent saying that to me. She had so much belief in me, I wanted to do it just so I wouldn’t let her down!

So I started writing my sixth book, DITCHED. I wrote like crazy, and that book came out of my brain in about five months. It was an absolute blast to write. After submitting it, we had interest within a few weeks (to my shock) from three different publishers.

And within the month, I had a two-book deal from Disney-Hyperion.

[insert heaving and sobbing]

But it all came full circle. (Like, massively full circle.) After I got my book deal, I drove down to Comic-Con in San Diego to have lunch with my agent and meet my editor in person. He’s a super polite (and Oh My God incredibly wonderful) person and during the conversation he happened to say, “So tell me about the first thing you ever wrote.” I mentioned the wonky Trevor & Libby story—about the weirdness of the quizzes and interviews and diagrams. He about fell out of his seat. He said they’d always wanted to do a “mockumentary” for middle grade. I was like… “I can totally do that.”

And in June, Trevor & Libby will get their own book: THE CLASSROOM, the first book in a 4-book series.

So today is about ten years in the making and many people helped me along the way. If it weren’t for the encouragement of this kidlit community (writers, editors, agents) I’m convinced I wouldn’t have kept going and this wouldn’t be happening to me right now. So, if it’s possible, I’d like to hug the entire children’s book world and give y’all a big smoochie kiss. Lean in a little closer to your computer screen…Muah! Xoxo THANK YOU!

I hope you love DITCHED. It took a while for this story to come out of me and I wanted you to know why. :-)

 

 

  • http://talkmusebanter.blogspot.com/ Bee

    I think I cried a little as I read this. I can imagine you (or anyone) thinking of giving up after all those attempts, but I’m SO glad you didn’t. Because then I wouldn’t have DITCHED sitting on my tbr shelf. I can already tell it’s going to be awesome.

    Also, I can’t wait to read Trevor and Lily’s story.

    G’luck with..everything, Robin! <3

  • Katie Anderson

    I always knew you’d be huge one day :) I always knew…

    CONGRATS!!!!!!

  • Gina Rosati

    I love a happy ending!!

  • Varsha Bajaj

    Aren’t you glad you kept going? Jill is a treasure.

  • http://www.dlgarfinkle.com/ Debby Garfinkle

    Hurray for you!

    Happy book birthday!

  • Robin Reul

    Yay Robin!!!!!! So proud of you! Enjoy every minute! (But lay off the fried chicken!)

  • Edithcohn

    So inspiring! Congratulations, Robin!

  • Sandi Hershenson

    Congratulations! What a wonderful adventure you have taken. Hopefully more of us will get there too!

  • http://susannahill.blogspot.com/ Susanna Leonard Hill

    Congratulations! What an awesome and inspiring story. I will certainly look for DITCHED and the others :)

  • http://twitter.com/PatZMiller Pat Zietlow Miller

    Great story! It made me smile. Thanks for sharing.

  • littledb

    Congrats! That is so exciting. :-) So glad you didn’t give up and I look forward to reading your books!

  • Kelly Milner Halls

    YAY! That pretty much sums it up. When one of us wins, we all do. So excited for you.

  • tkd2lady

    LOVED your post! It made me smile and made me cry. You give as yet unpublished writers hope to be in your shoes one day. Congratulations!

  • Wendy Higgins

    You know it’s bad when you’re tearing up before the end of the first paragraph! I love stories like this! Congratulations, and thank you for sharing your inspiring journey. :)

  • Rebecca Fyfe

    Congratulations and thank you for sharing this asis it gives those of us who haven’t published our children’s stories yet a bit of hope. :)

  • Jody Feldman

    Your journey takes me back. The tear, the tears, the tears, the joy. I don’t need to tell you to savor every moment. I know you will.

  • Kristin Tubb

    Congratulations, Robin, and thank you for sharing your story! (And your stories! :-) ) So excited for you, DITCHED, and Trevor & Libby!

  • Ticklingthemuse

    Congratulations, Robin! I am downloading DITCHED very soon to my Kindle and look forward to reading it!

  • Rhonda Hayter

    What a wonderful story of tenacity and hard work. You deserve every wonderful thing that’s coming to you and so does your support group of writers

  • http://sharppendullsword.blogspot.com/ Lola Sharp

    Awww, I’m so excited for you! *Smoochie kisses back* Sometimes it’s just timing. NOW is YOUR TIME! :)

  • Jarm

    So good to hear that Perserverance pays off…thanks for the encouragement, Robin. And congratulations!!

  • Melinda

    I have had the opportunity to read DITCHED and I LOVED it! It was so FUN and so REAL. I loved the voice and characters and…everything!

    Love your publishing story. You are an inspiration, Robin!

  • Laurie Crompton

    Love, love, LOVE this story! Makes the victory all the sweeter. Cannot WAIT to dig into DITCHED *sits by mailbox*

  • http://www.sarawilsonetienne.com/ Sara Wilson Etienne

    Woooooohoo! Happy Book Birthday! Can’t wait to celebrate with you!

  • Christine Kohler

    What a wonderfully inspirational story to start the New Year! Thanks for sharing and best wishes with your books!

  • Joanne Levy

    What a great story with a wonderful ending. Here’s to never giving up and going the distance. Huge congrats to you, Robin, and I can’t wait to get into my copy of DITCHED.

  • Michelle

    Robin, I just found you from a post on FB! What a ride you have been on! So similar to mine! I just had my first 2 books published last Fall and am working on my third that got sold right before Thanksgiving. It was a 10-year overnight dream! lol! Good luck to you and I will be buying Ditched for my 13 year old daughter! We writers must support each other!!

  • Bevrosenbaum

    I’ve read the first chapter of Ditched on your website and can’t wait to read the rest! Your story is inspiring, and I’m sure you have many years of success ahead of you–huge congrats…you deserve it!

  • Cheryl

    So happy for you! Congrats and thanks for sharing your story!

  • MH

    Okay – crying, laughing and the boost I needed today to dive back into my project.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Selene-Bayrack-Castrovilla/522469497 Selene Bayrack- Castrovilla

    Congratulations! I can totally relate – as many other authors can, too. It’s more than perserverance…We write because we MUST. It’s such a thrill when we can finally share our work with the world. Enjoy!!!

  • Sarah Beth Durst

    What a wonderful story! Congratulations and happy book birthday!

  • Cariblogs

    Thank you for sharing your story! Congratulations and I can’t wait to read Ditched!

  • Eve Marie Mont

    Congratulations on your book birthday for DITCHED and for the 4-book deal!

  • Julie Hedlund

    Great and inspiring story! Thanks for sharing your journey.

  • Rani

    Woman!! That is awesome!!! I am looking forward to reading DITCHED! Will be sending you some interview questions too! Congrats!

  • Lolielynn

    You are an inspiration and I will remember your story as I continue in my own quest. Can’t wait to read DITCHED!!

  • Bill Cochran

    Love it. Very happy for you. Now try not to check your amazon sale ranking every 20 minutes. Maybe just every 30.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Natalie-Lorenzi/1639870665 Natalie Lorenzi

    SO happy for you, Robin!

  • Patty Palmer

    I really appreciate your tenacity and commitment to your craft. A BIG congratulations on realizing your dream. You have a very inspiring story, so thanks for sharing!

  • Barrie Summy

    Incredible, Robin! Wishing you many many years of books and success!

  • Sarah Frances Hardy

    Ginormous hugs and smooches back at you!!! I’m so thrilled for you!

    What a day!!!!!!

    sf

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_X5RG4EIEPMS7UEQHRSOJN4DJGY Ruta Sepetys

    C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S ! !

  • http://profiles.google.com/solvangsherrie Sherrie Petersen

    What a great story!!! LOVE IT! And how encouraging that you stuck with it. Congratulations and happy book birthday! Can’t wait to see you at the release party!!

  • http://twitter.com/_JessicaLove Jessica Love

    YAY ROBIN! What a great story. I hope you enjoyed everything about your day. :-)

  • Lenore Appelhans
  • Laurapauling

    I loved Ditched and I”m sure everyone else will too! Congrats your big day and long journey! yay!

  • Gabi

    I can’t wait to read Ditched! It’s so neat how everything really did come full circle for you. Congrats!!!

  • http://www.rosiepovapicturebooks.weebly.com/ Rosie Pova

    What a great inspirational story! I am happy for your success, you’ve earned it. Your persistence really paid off. Thank for sharing and warming up my freezing hope!

    ROSIE POVA

  • Eporinchak

    YOU deserve this moment more than anyone, honey!! You are the definition of perseverance. I love you and am ecstatic for you. We’ll be cheers-ing with our families together in ONE WEEK. :) XOXOXO

  • Liese2

    This story sounds great! Congratulations! It sounds like a book that not only I would love, but also my daughter in college. I love discovering new authors! Thanks so much for the chance to win!

  • http://theliterarymom.wordpress.com/ amymarie

    I just wanted to say that this was a very inspiring post. I’m kind of in the same boat you were in, four manuscripts written, with interest from lots of agents, but I still haven’t signed with one yet. I’ve been wondering if I should give up, or start on my fifth manuscript. His post really gave me hope. Thank you so much! (And I’m TOTALLY going to read DITCHED!)

  • http://www.flowering-minds.com/ Darshana

    wow that is an amazing story of perseverance. i am so happy to hear that you finally got there. gives hope to us newbies who are just starting the journey. CONGRATS!

  • About Robin

    The first book in my middle grade series, THE CLASSROOM: The Epic Documentary of a Not-Yet Epic Kid, is now available from Disney-Hyperion. It's a mockumentary of life in seventh grade...oh, the awkwardness.

    And my teen novel, DITCHED: A Love Story, is about a 16-year old girl who has one of those nights she'll always remember (and a prom she wants to forget). Check out the Teen Books section for an excerpt!

    ~
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