Well, this is my first foray into the blogosphere. Congratulations on finding the site and I hope you'll find it interesting.  I've spent the last two years writing and polishing my children's/YA novel, The Chronomancer's Daughter and now I've decided to blog my progress as I take the long road to try to get it published. 

First, a little background. I'd been writing on and off my whole life and have even completed a couple of novels, though nothing that was ready for publication (I can admit now) when the idea for a time travelling novel bringing a 21st century character into the gothic world of late Victorian science fiction popped fully formed into my head.  I work full time and the discipline of writing a novel was something I'd had to develop over time and fit in around a full time career and family life but by the time Pandora Wolfe appeared in my brain, I'd more or less figured out how to maintain my job, my family and my writing without neglecting any one of them too much.  I've been helped by an understanding wife and kids who don't mind me disappearing for hours at a time into my converted shed to write (though I have a sneaking suspicion they're just happy to have me out of their hair).

All through the writing process I was encouraged by my wife, Marie and my friend Paul, who read and commented on the book as I wrote it chapter by chapter and then had the patience to read the second and third drafts as I revised and altered the story and picked up on their comments.  Finally I reached a point where I was happy with what I'd written and decided I needed to get further viewpoints including those of my target audience, 9-14 year olds.  Fortunately I had plenty of friends (especially Laura, Margaret, Deborah and Stephen), who like me enjoyed reading childrens and young adult fantasy fiction and I had my own home grown supply of 9-14 year olds who were happy to give me brutally honest feedback.  

Once I'd taken on their comments (both good and bad) and corrected the hundreds of errors that I'd missed with my own checking, I decided it was time to send it out into the world.  I thought long and hard what to do about this;  we were in the middle of a global recession and hundreds if not thousands of other would-be published authors would be aiming for the same markets as me.  Was it even worth it?  I didn't think long.  Of course it was.  I wanted to share this story with the world and I really believed in it.  I had no choice.

The second decision was; to self publish or to try and get someone to buy it?  While lots of authors have hit a big audience via self publishing and one personal friend, (a bit of an inspiration to me) had already successfully published several books, success stories in self-publishing are a minority and most of that publishing is done via e-books.  As an old-fashioned author what I wanted most of all was to see a paper and ink printed version of the book, so unless I wanted to spend a lot of my own money and take risks with the family income, I was going to have to sell the book to someone else to publish.

Once I'd decided to try to sell the book, the next choice was whether send it to an agent or direct to a publisher.  That was a no-brainer too.  Most large publishers are using agents as a filter these days and what I know about the publishing business could fit comfortably on the back of a postage stamp. I would need an agent.

I had bought the Children's Writer's and Artist's yearbook and so I began to look through the lists of literary agents, choosing the ones I liked the look of (and who accepted their submissons via email - printing and postage costs would be significant otherwise) then checked out their websites.  I'd read it was bad form to submit to more than one agent so I chose the first one on my list, made sure my submission of a covering letter, the first three chapters and a synopsis met their requirements and sent it off.

A long, agonising 6 weeks later, I got a rejection.  A pleasantly worded, but clearly a form letter.  It was a disappointment, but one I'd prepared myself for in advance.  Stephen King, JK Rowling and many other authors had been rejected multiple times.  It was no reflection on their work, so I decided I wouldn't read anything into it for mine either.  I went to the next name on the list, wrote a new covering letter and ensured my submission matched their requirements and sent it off.

About 4 weeks later I recieved a message saying that they'd liked the story and that while it wasn't exactly what they were looking for, they considered it a near miss.  I took heart from this and immediately prepared my submission for the next one and sent it off.  I only thought about it later, but I wondered how near a miss it could have been if they'd only read my sample chapters and synopsis?  It was probably a form letter too but a much kinder sounding one. By this time of course, I'd moved on.  My affections had moved to the next agent on the list.  I had a good feeling about this one; the children's agent had the same first name as one of my characters.  I waited patiently. This was a sign.

Five weeks later I got the rejection email. A standard form letter.  I was briefly thrown, then I remembered the quote from Zig Ziglar "The only difference between a big shot and a little shot is the big shot is a little shot who kept shooting." I reminded myself that Harry Potter had been rejected a lot more times than this and picked out the next one on the list.  I'd avoided sending to this agent initially because the submissions were sent through a form on a website and it didn't work when I tried to upload, so I sent it to someone else.  I really did like the look of this agent, so in the end I held off sending it elsewhere and emailed their contact address, telling them that I couldn't submit to their website. The next day I had an email back, asking me to send the covering letter, sample chapters and synopsis to their email address, which I duly did at 11pm before going to bed.

I went to work the next day and had one of those awful days where everything goes wrong.  I stomped into the house that evening wearing a thunder cloud above my head and a facial expression that could have curdled milk.  I grumpily ate dinner with the rest of the family and then retired to the shed (much to their relief) to do some more work on my website and flesh out some of the early chapters of the sequel to the first Pandora Wolfe book.  Switching on my PC, my day changed when I read my first email.  It was from the children's agent I'd emailed my submission to the previous night, saying they enjoyed my sample chapters and would welcome the chance to read the full manuscript.  After running in to tell my wife (who I think was suspecting by my expression that I'd had some kind of breakdown), I prepared my manuscript and emailed it back.   This was three weeks ago (though two of those weeks were the Christmas Holidays).  I'm still waiting to hear.  I'll update you as soon as I find out more.