I am currently doing the research for my next manuscript and I had the privilege of traveling to the place where the story begins….La Hispaniola or as the Native Taino people called it “Ayiti” which means mountainous land.
The left side of the island was later renamed Haiti in 1804 by the slaves who won their independence from France and the right side was declared the Dominican Republic.
The history of Ayati is amazing and from June 15-20th I had the opportunity to visit the west side of the island, the country of Haiti.
I traveled with five other ladies and our purpose was to partner with the organization Share Hope whose mission is to help alleviate poverty through responsible textile trading. Our goal was to partner with Share Hope in order to provide their pregnant factory workers health education regarding the Zika virus.
We partnered with Share Hope’s Her Health educators and visited over 10 factories while speaking with over 300 pregnant women. It was such an honor as a mother of four to be able to travel across the ocean to help inform my dear sisters on how to protect their babies from Zika.
We not only informed them about the latest research on the virus but gave them practical ways to fight against the Aedes mosquito. We gave out over 300 mosquito nets and taught them how how to make their own mosquito repellent and cream. Here are the directions to making your own mosquito repellent:
I’m not sure how this trip will influence my story, but I will not forget the beautiful Haitian people. Although they live in very oppressive circumstances they still exemplify a strength that I have not witnessed before and I hope to share that with the world.
How do you respond to rejection? This week I received my first “no” from a publisher. Rejection never feels good but I took it pretty well.
I am so amazed that I’ve made it this far in the process of becoming published and I really believe my day will come. The story I’ve written needs to be told and with divine help, it will make it out into the world!
No word yet. It’s been a month since my editor sent my manuscript out to publishers. So far at least five major editors in New York have my story.
I’m really hoping that the right person, at the right time will read it and connect with the message. Here’s a video that shows the process once an editor chooses to pitch to the publishing house:
In the publishing industry a month is not a long time. So in the meantime I’m waiting patiently and researching for the next book!
This week I’ve hit a huge milestone in my journey to becoming a published author. After two months of revisions, my manuscript is now ready for the submission process! This week my agent will start submitting the manuscript to publishers for possible acquisition. This process can take a while as the following video explains the steps to acquisition:
Editorial Director, Donna Condon with Harlequin Publishing house said that she receives approximately 100 book submissions per week from agents and only accepts 1 in every 400-500! This is just reminder that getting published is extremely difficult.
Now all I can do is pray, wait, and start working on my next book!
This week was the most
“The better the proposal, the higher your chances of making the final cut in the publishing process.” –The African American Writer’s Handbook
Once the book proposal was written I focused on drafting a query letter with the help of Forerunners, Inc. (http://www.forerunnersink.com/) and my husband. This is the first thing that agents would read in order to decide if they were interested in reading the manuscript. Here's the letter:
I recently completed a debut children’s historical fiction, picture-story book entitled Uncle Manuel and the Story of New York. The Writer's Digest listed you as an agent looking for diverse books featuring under-represented voices and I believe it is a good fit for your consideration. It’s an exciting story about the true accounts of Groot Manuel and the colonial slaves of New York City. Written in a story-telling voice, Grandma Jenny passes along the family history of Uncle Manuel to her grandson Christopher who had an incredible journey from slavery to becoming one of the first free black land owners, ultimately living in New York’s “Land of the Blacks,” today’s Washington Square Park.
Uncle Manuel and the Story of New York is full of tantalizing details of how enslaved Africans contributed to building the infrastructure and economy of colonial New York. Albeit a serious topic, it is written in such a manner that will not only fascinate young audiences but adults as well. Parents and educators will be pleased to learn of Africans’ early influence in this nation.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Oregon and currently homeschool my four children in Mt. Vernon, New York. As a writer, it is my desire to uncover golden nuggets of our history and make the information accessible to younger audiences. This is what I did with Uncle Manuel and the Story of New York. This book will not only become a wonderful teaching tool, but it will also meet the growing need of parents’ desires to captivate younger children with quality text that provide real knowledge.
Uncle Manuel and the Story of New York is complete at 1,177 words and is included in this submission. It includes two special sections, "More about Groot Manuel" and "About the Research." It will also include a glossary, a timeline of slavery in New York, a list of websites for further enjoyment, and a bibliography bringing the total word count to 2,612.
This is a multiple submission and I thank you for your time and consideration!
“Remember that I have to sell the project to an editor, and an editor has to sell your project internally to his colleagues including the marketing and sales staff, and the publisher has to sell your book to the book buyers at the chains in bookstores. You're most likely to get my attention if you write a query letter that demonstrates your platform, the market potential of your book and why your book is different. In short – get me excited!”-Jeff Herman Guide to Publishing
So over the course of three months I submitted to agencies that were soliciting for children’s paperback and diverse voices. Every agency website pretty much made it clear that if they did not respond to the email, they were not interested.
“Loosely speaking, out of every 100 queries I receive, I will request 7–10 complete manuscripts. And only about one of every 25–30 manuscripts I request will result in me signing a new client.”-Literary Agent Brian Klems
Needless to say, I didn’t know how long I would be in this phase of my journey and for months I just kept telling my friends that I was still looking for an agent. Sooo I was truly in shock when I opened my email this week and saw that an agent had replied and found my story “fascinating.”
“Oh my gosh—no way!!” I yelled.
What? Mommy what happened?
All of my children crowded.
“Someone responded to my letter. An agent wants to talk to me!”
“Yeah!!!!!!” All of them shouted, jumping up and down. “Write her back—send an email now Mommy!”
Okay, Okay but I can’t think with all of you screaming.
“Let’s tell daddy!”
What did this mean—she found my story interesting and wanted to talk about editorial suggestions? Did she think it was a good story idea but needed a complete overhaul? Did she think I should make it into a chapter book or novel instead of a paperback?
I did not sleep well that night. The next day I prepared for the phone call as if I was interviewing for a job. (I will write another post on how I prepared for the call). The next day everyone was filled with excitement and anticipation. I spoke with the agent for about 40 minutes and at the end of the call, she affirmed that she was offering her representation.
Let me just tell you there was more screaming and running through the house with the kids. Now I have a foot in the door. The journey continues!
The worst thing happened. All of my research notes, copies of manuscripts, marketing ideas, book proposal, everything in one notebook—lost. I lost it all when I sat my bag down on a street corner in Brooklyn, NY. Never mind why I sat it down in the first place but it was too when I realized it was gone. I mourned the loss of my work for a couple of weeks before I was able to push forward.
The only thing that encouraged me was that I had recently typed out my notes and had kept really good track of my sources so I didn’t have to completely start all over. Although, I prefer writing my notes by hand, this experience showed me that I have to back everything up. Unfortunately this lesson was learned the hard way.
Ayanna is a debut author that enjoys writing fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, and poetry for children. She finished her first manuscript in 2015 and is currently working with a literary agent to represent her work to Publishing houses.