The Yellow Dirt Road

The Yellow Dirt Road

Perhaps freshening up ye old portfolio site will entice me back into blogging again. I retired my old illustration process blog which was maintained for about six years, starting at the time I began to wander down the kidlitart yellow brick dirt road. Along the way I certainly faced my share of flying moneys and poppy fields. . .

“Poppies! Poppies! Poppies will put them to sleep. Sleep. . .”

Henry never needed a poppy field to put him to sleep. And taking a nap to forget it all certainly tempted me along the way.

But eventually I stood before the wizard, the judges at the SCBWI Summer Conference, with my band of stalwart travelers. We were told, “Good start! Now go on an even more perilous journey if you want to attain your heart’s desires.” Am I equating finding an agent with killing the wicked witch and returning with her broom? Um. . .yes.

As a “mentee” I began to take my turn posting illustration process and tips over on the kidlitartists blog, as well as ramping up my participation on Twitter and Instagram (per Debbie Ridpath Ohi‘s suggestion), leaving me little time to post on my own blog. However the last week or so several people have commented on how much my process posts have meant to them, so I am setting a timer.

Speaking of, have you seen my latest post over on the “mentee” blog?

And now several of my band of companions from that year have returned with the broom, secured their agents, and are working under contract on their debut picture books. Can you hear all the munchkins cheering and dancing?! So they’ve settled into their studios. . .

sketches2055d3 u2 corrected

Yet I am still on the road. And as many times as I have exalted “the process” over the end product, it is not surprising I am working methodically through researching agents, art directors and publishing companies. . .the second part of the adventure. As I participate in groups such as the SubIt Club and the weekly Kidlitart Twitter Chat, I find my focus has been shifting from craft over to Presentation for Representation. In the first part of the journey the responsibility fell squarely on me. . .to devote myself with passion, perseverance, patience, practice and presentation. Yet now I find the next level of my journey can only be achieved by the actions of someone else. . .the opening of the door. I can only knock. And knock, and knock, and knock.

You’re out of the woods, You’re out of the dark, You’re out of the night.
Step into the sun, Step into the light.
Keep straight ahead for the most glorious place
On the Face of the Earth or the sky.
Hold onto your breath, Hold onto your heart, Hold onto your hope.
March up to the gate and bid it open – open.

Reading comments like the following over on the SubIt Club Facebook Group page has been very educational, and somewhat terrifying. Cue the Flying Monkeys again. . .

“Today I offer statistics from my one year query journey: Queried 98 agents;”

“This post resonated with me. I sent 97 queries in 2014.”

I. Had. No. Idea. Even attending the SCBWI conferences each year and hearing the stories of being rejected for 12 years before finally selling a book, I had not imagined such a high number of queries per year. (editing to add: Want to Play Rejection Bingo?

Fortunately I have now received my FIRST REJECTED query letter for a picture book manuscript:

Tin Man
Oh, well, what happened to you?
They tore my legs off, and they threw them over there! Then they took my chest out and they threw it over there!
Tin Man
Well, that’s you all over!
They sure knocked the stuffings out of you, didn’t they?

stuffings knocked out

So 96 letters of query to go, 96 letters of query, take one down, mail it to town . .

But Wait! that’s only 10.6 per month. Ah, that sounds much better. Up with the curtain! Watch me click up my heels in these shiny ruby slippers!


All images copyright 2016 Kathryn Ault Noble.

11 thoughts on “The Yellow Dirt Road

  1. I laughed reading your comparison of finding an agent to killing the witch and getting her broom because I almost compared the whole humiliating process of querying and submitting to trying to catch and eat a scorpion on Twitter this past week. :D

    You have serious talent, Kathryn; your time will come!

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