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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Size DOES Matter

Size does make a difference. The size of a publisher matters. A smaller publisher is going to have a more personal connection to their writers. With a small publisher, the writer doesn’t become just another number. With a small publisher (I imagine), the writer and the owner/editor develop a relationship, a rapport. In the best situations, they become friends as well as colleagues and “partners” when it comes to the birth of a book.

Sometimes, however, bigger is better. Sometimes the size of words matters. “Yes” has one extra letter than “no,” and it packs a whole tractor trailer truck full of potential and promise.

I got a “yes.” It took years, but it finally came.

Recently Finally I received an email that did not begin with, “Thanks for sending me your manuscript…” because that’s the kiss of death. Every rejection email I’ve gotten so far (and I’ve gotten a bunch) began with a thank you.

This one didn’t start out with a “thank you.” No, this email began with, “I’d love to publish your book.” That short sentence, only six words long, got me out of a rut and set me off on a journey that has already changed my life.

image by Pixabay

Here are other ways size matters when it comes to writing:

  • Short sentences surrounded by longer sentences… longer sentences that stretch on for 20 or 30 (or more) words. When a two-word sentence is floating in a lake of sentences that are a normal length, it changes up the rhythm of the writing. If all the sentences are the same length, it gets boring for the reader. (I’ve worked with many students who’ve said, “My teacher said that sentences have to be at least five words long,” and I have to restrain myself from saying, “They lied.” Instead, we look at award-winning books and stories that prove I’m right and their former teachers are wrong.)

  • Short paragraphs. Short paragraphs do the same (and a little more) that short sentences do. Have you ever been faced with a page or a two-page spread that’s dense with text… each paragraph five or 10 or 12 (or more) lines long? It makes the eyes weary. It makes the brain tired. But if you slip in a super-short paragraph--a sentence that is only two or three words long--it gives the reader’s brain a little rest stop. A bit of white space (space on the page that is free of ink/text) is appreciated.

  • Thick skin is better than thin. When it comes to pizza, I’ll choose thin crust every time. However, a writer needs to develop a thick skin. They need to choose to embrace constructive criticism (“You mean not every line that flows onto my paper is golden? Seriously?”) and they need to persevere in spite of rejection after rejection after rejection. I sent out over 120 queries before I got a “yes.” Did I want to quit at many points? Definitely, but I’m so glad I didn’t.

  • Small sparks are crucial… but so are raging fires. A spark is bright and brief. My soon-to-be book began with a spark set off by Linda Chistensen, a nationally-known social justice educator and writer. That spark turned to embers… and then it became an all-consuming fire. All my hopes and passion wrapped around getting this story told… which leads us to where I began this post.

Will I chronicle this journey to publication? Of course. Knowing me, it will be peppered with funny stories and screw-ups and stumbling (not my publisher's--the screw-ups will be all mine). But since I’ve wanted to publish a book since I was 13, it’s been… well, it’s been many decades… and it’s a dream that’s finally coming true. 

Sioux, back when she was a teenager, dreamed of being a published writer... of having a book on a bookstore shelf that has her name on it. Now it looks like her dream will finally come true. If you'd like to read more of her writing, check out Sioux's Page.



  1. Sioux, congratulations!!! I'm so happy for you.

    And btw, the tips for writing are gold star!


  2. Oh congratulations Sioux!!!! That's amazing!!

    And thick skin, oh man that took me a while to get. I cannot wait to hear all about your writing journey to publication!

  3. YAY! Big congrats and cannot wait to hear more, Sioux!

  4. Sioux!! I'm thrilled for you! CONGRATULATIONS!! And I agree that small presses are where it's at!

    Your post is brilliant, btw--all the various literary ways size does matter. Yes is more letters than No, short sentences for variation, short paragraphs make pacing faster, the thicker the skin the better--this could be an essay!

    I can't wait to hear about your publisher! I knew it would happen, and I hope you're celebrating! :)

  5. Sioux, Congratulations!! I am so glad you never gave up on publishing your story, it is a story waiting to be told uniquely by you. You're only going up from here as a writer. I hope you take the time to celebrate this wonderful accomplishment because it is so deserved. Again, Congratulations!!!!!

  6. Joanne--Thanks. I've had the author's thank you page written for quite a while... and your name is definitely part of it.

    Nicole--Thank you. Maybe I haven't gained any weight due to the coronavirus? Maybe I've just developed a thicker skin, and everybody knows a thick skin weighs more than a thin one.

    Cathy--You know I will ramble on and on about the journey. Thanks. Be careful what you wish for. ;)

    Angela--Thanks. The Butt-Kickers are responsible for getting my rear end to this point.

    Jeanine--Thanks for your encouraging words. Tag--you're it. You're next. I'm going to be waiting for YOUR book. Consider yourself nudged. Repeatedly and continuously.

  7. Go ahead and sign me up to read the book and write a review for you on my blog. I can't wait to read it--it's a story that the children and parents of today's generation need to hear. Congratulations!

  8. Renee--Does ANY writer need to hear that offer twice? No.

    You are # 1 on my list. Thanks. Now, can you get Oprah to look at it? ;)

  9. I'd love to publish your book. :)

  10. So glad to see that your book will soon be in the hands of readers!

  11. Margo--Ha! ;)

    Sue--Do you remember your first? You have such a string of books with your name on them, your first one is probably a distant memeory. I'll be thrilled with one or two (or three).


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