I’ve had the opportunity recently to get to know children’s author, Shari Schwarz. Like most of us, she’s struggled with writing and publishing. I’d like to share with you a bit of how she’s come to publish her book, TREASURE AT LURE LAKE. Congratulation Shari! Publishing is a long road traveled and you did it. ––Katherine––
Shari Schwarz: My Path To Publication
In my fifth grade diary I have a list of goals written in the back. One is to write a book. And if you know anything about me, you know I love to dream … and I love to work toward my goals.
I started writing my book, THE LEDGE (now renamed to TREASURE AT LURE LAKE), December 10, 2013 after a quick facebook chat with a good friend of mine, Jenda Nye, who is also a writer. She encouraged me to start writing and, bonus! we could be writing partners!
The idea for my story was totally inspired by my boys and Gary Paulsen’s HATCHET. But I had NO idea what I was getting myself into when I wrote ‘The End’ on my first draft in February 2014, or what would happen when I plugged into the amazing writing community on Twitter in March 2014.
At that time, my parents were the first ones to give me valuable feedback and editing suggestions on my first draft, and I will always be so grateful for their support and guidance. Then, I sent out my first queries to literary agents in March 2014. Literally a year too early, but that’s what the learning process is all about…making lots of mistakes and learning from them. I’m thankful for each mistake along the way because they all have been a part of the path I’m on to becoming a better writer and story teller.
I entered TREASURE AT LURE LAKE in various online contests like #NestPitch, #JustPitchIt, #PitMad, #PitchSlam, #PitchMas, Operation Awesome, #AgentMatch, #SecretShop, Sub it Club pitch party (and those are just the ones I received requests from agents on) and queried widely over the next six months. Early on in the query process I received two “R&R” (revise and resubmit) requests–one from an editor and one from an agent. While neither of them panned out in the end, they offered sound and generous advice that helped me shape the early drafts of TREASURE AT LURE LAKE.
In the fall of 2014, after getting feedback from at least 30 critique partners, getting numerous rejections from agents and just a couple of bites (requests for fulls), I went to the Rocky Mountain SCBWI conference with my friend, Emily Moore, who I also met on Twitter but then got to know in real life! I learned so much at the conference, and Emily really helped me brainstorm ideas for some major changes in the story that got me excited again after enduring so many rejections of my work. It’s not easy putting your heart and soul into something and having a hundred people tell you ‘no, not quite right.’
One side of wisdom might say it’s time to throw in the towel, but this is a hard business to break into, so I kept plugging away. I had so many people encourage me to press on, not give up and try again!
In December 2014, after a couple of close calls with agents, I nearly gave up on TREASURE AT LURE LAKE. I had also finished writing the first draft of a new book and started on another. Discouraged and heartbroken, I went for a long hike where I stomped and cried and yelled at God. Why is this so hard? So frustrating? I hated getting my hopes up over and over again each time an agent seemed interested only to be let down and disappointed when they said no.
So, I decided to let go and self-publish. By that time, I knew there were problems with my book, but I just couldn’t give up on Jack and Bryce (the boys in the story). I felt free and excited and a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of self-publication!
But then, in January 2015, an amazing online friend and critique partner, Sarah Floyd, told me not to give up and took a once over of the first few chapters of my manuscript. With her feedback, I was inspired to revise again and send out a small batch of queries. Full manuscript requests started to come in. I sent out more queries. More fulls were requested. Lots of waiting ensued!
So, back to the revision board…again and again. In March, one of my original critique partners, Sally Hughes Doherty, read through TREASURE AT LURE LAKE and gave me a thorough evaluation of my book which shed bright light on some problem areas I still had. With her brilliant advice, I revised again. A couple of contests and a few more full requests later, I felt like I was on the right track.
By this time, I wasn’t as prone to discouragement; my skin had grown thick. Plus, I had started reading manuscripts for a literary agent and could now see firsthand the numerous ways in which a manuscript just doesn’t cut it even if it is good writing or an amazing story. The idea of self-publishing became more and more of a possibility to me, and I started to research it.
Then one day, I saw an #MSWL call for submissions by an editor, Ashley Gephart, at Cedar Fort Publishing and decided to send TREASURE AT LURE LAKE to her on May 11th, 2015. By the end of May, I was completely shocked to receive an email saying they had accepted my story for publication! I literally could not believe it at first. I think I read that email ten times before it sunk in that it was real — not spam or a joke or someone who was going to change their mind a few days later.
After researching Cedar Fort, asking a million questions, talking to one of their authors and going through the contract, I’m thoroughly blessed and honored to say that I signed with Cedar Fort’s general release fiction. TREASURE AT LURE LAKE is set for release on April 12, 2016.
Shari Schwarz lives in Colorado with her husband and their four boys. TREASURE AT LURE LAKE is her debut middle grade adventure which reflects her love for a good adventure story and spending time hiking and camping in the Northern Colorado Rockies.