I’ve been thinking about all of the things that I have learned since signing my first picture book contract in 2021 for Alone Together on Dan Street (published in 2022 by Apples & Honey Press). I’m still learning.

Maybe its obvious, but I wasn’t sure what to make of all the Shhhh – Secrets in Kidlit Posts and the vague post messages that said things like “good news” or “signed something today”. Eventually I figured this out. There’s a [long] period of time in which you have an offer from a publisher, but it can’t be made public. You can tell your partner, your cat, and your kids because none of them are listening. They’re tired of hearing about books things, but there are people that might care. The industry standard seems to be that everything is secret until the deal appears in PublishersWeekly (a trade publication).

What I hadn’t appreciated is that fact that these PublishersWeekly announcements (those cool ones with headshots) can take forever to come. There are many reasons for this. For picture books, if you are an author only (as opposed to an author-illustrator), the deal won’t be announced until an illustrator signs the contract. Often, author manuscript edits are fairly far along before an illustrator discussion begins and then various factors can cause further delays that can include the publisher’s calendar and potential illustrator’s availability. Then the illustrator has to go through the offer and contract process now too. The wait can be very long.

I can give an example. Shhhh. I signed a contract for a picture book in May 2023. YAY! The announcement still isn’t out as of now (June 2024).

This manuscript was actually originally sent to the publisher in Spring 2021. They asked for an R&R (Revise and Resubmit). Don’t know what that is – neither did I.

So what is an R&R? It’s a request from a publisher or agent for you to rework your manuscript. Typically there will be comments that will suggest another direction or angle for the story. It’s a good thing. First of all, it’s not a rejection. It’s a statement of serious interest, but not enough to make an offer. It’s an opportunity. Even if it ultimately is a no, you have had the benefit of free expert advice that will make the manuscript stronger for your next round of  queries. In this case, the R&R (2 years later) was successful. It became an offer. I should also point out that the R&R came just as I was signing with my agent which is partly why I forgot about it.

Back to the waiting game. Offer in hand, I was obviously excited.

Then I waited for a contract. Then I waited for the first round of edits and the second. Then I waited for an illustrator. Now over one year after signing a contract and 3 years after my initial submission, it’s still a secret.

So, I have news…

You will have to wait.