Optimism is NOT Arrogance

Arrogance is the belief that you are BETTER than others. Optimism is the belief that you have the same CHANCE as others. We all have the chance to achieve our dreams. Don't ever let anyone tell you differently.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Scholastic Letter

By the way, I share these with you not to solicite pity or encouragement; I know rejections are part of the game.  I share them so you can see what they look like, and how it all works.

First - here's how Caitlin broke the news to me.  As I said - an awesome agent!

"Regarding the narrator issue--you remember we talked about this right when I signed you up.  My personal feeling is that kids would not have a problem with the dual narrators.  With computer and video games and graphic novels these days they are way more sophisticated than editors give them credit for being.  But, it may be a case of not being able to get to the kids because of the editorial/publisher screen.  Sometimes you can't fight city hall.  (And, it's very unfair, because, let's face it, if Rick Riordan or Stephanie Meyers wrote a book with dual first person narrators it would be hailed as editorial genius.)

So I don't want to give up--the manuscript is still out with 6 editors--but I do think you should spend some time thinking about if/how you could tell the story in a more traditional format.  The most commercial way to go would be a close third person--i.e., using he/she but keeping the viewpoint and voice very close to the character.  

Mull it over and let me know what you're thinking okay?"

See, she believes in the narrative as well, but also is a realist in that the kids aren't the ones doing the editing and story selection - the editors are.  Right, wrong or indifferent, they're the ones you have to please.  And the dual first person narrative (so far) isn't grabbing them.  Who knows, maybe one of the other five remaining will jump on it.

Here's SCHOLASTIC's point of view:

"Hi Caitlin,

I’ve now had a chance to read Kevin Sheridan’s THE TIMEPIECE CHRONICLES. There’s so much to like here—and I’m always looking for literary, commercial middle grade fiction—but I’m afraid this is a pass for me. I simply couldn’t get past the narration style, and I thought it would be a problem for middle grade readers.

I’m sorry I don’t have better news. Thank you for thinking of me. I hope we’ll be able to connect on a project in the near future!"

Now to their credit, these are professionals, so they are paid to make these types of decisions, and something new and radical like this isn't an easy decision to make, or a risk they may want to take.  But I focus in on the words "THERE'S SO MUCH TO LIKE HERE"!  That's what gives me hope.  And as a wise man once said, there's always hope.


  1. Kevin,

    This is a fascinating process, and one I've not heard much about.

    Is a "no" response from these editors a "no" forever? For example, could Caitlyn resubmit after your rewrite taking out the dual first-person narrative?

    Just curious how that might work, especially with the "so much to like here" comment.

  2. Ah! An excellent question, Mary - one that I'll address with the next post. Yes, she would consider it again, but not all editors are like that. However, publishing houses have a lot of editors, so in some instances Caitlin said she would resubmit to another editor. More to come!

  3. Oh, cool. A bit of a different flavor from "submitting to one agent is submitting to all agents at our agency," which (although fully understandable) sometimes feels like a one-strike you're out game. Although I've seen some agencies that don't mind, after careful revisions are done and some time has passed, for a writer to re-submit to someone else.

    I'm waiting for the next post. :)

  4. Hi Kevin,

    Just felt compelled to say thanks so much for posting all this and putting yourself out there. I'm a published non-fiction author and journalist who's only recently grown brave enough to attempt the thing I always really wanted to write--children's fiction. After two more full requests led to two more passes tonight, I, in between sobs and hiccups, clicked through several links that led to your web site. Reading your story helped put things in perspective and reminded me that landing the agent doesn't mean you've reached the top of the hill, so I need this toughening process to prepare for the rest of the journey. Anyway, many thanks!


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