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.
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.