How Many Times Have You Quit?

I Quit Note Isolated on white


This week alone, I QUIT:

My job.

Soccer coaching.

And writing.



Okay, not really. But I had my moments. Moments of frustration. Moments of doubt. Moments of exhaustion and embarrassment. Moments where I thought, “I am done.”

Audrey Vernick captures this “quitting” moment so perfectly in her newest picture book, FIRST GRADE DROUPOUT, illustrated by the fabulous Matthew Cordell.

FirstGradeDropoutA young boy has an embarrassing moment in his first grade class, and decides he has no other choice but to drop out.

Oh, how I relate to this moment! Remember that time you addressed that query to the wrong person? Or attached an old version of your manuscript to the email? Or overeagerly sent a status query after only 4 weeks? And when you figured out your mistake, you were certain the entire publishing industry was laughing at you behind the scenes, passing your query around to each other, and saying, “Take a look at this bozo!”


So what does it take for this young boy to return to school?

A friend.

Someone who says,

I understand.

I’ve been there.

Let me tell you about that thing I did that was ten times worse!


So, in the spirit of lifting each other up, let’s share. What’s your most embarrassing submission story?

Here’s one of mine:

I once got some personal comments from an agent and decided to write her back and thank her for them. I thought I was being super market savvy by congratulating her on a recent book she had sold for a client that I had seen in Publisher’s Marketplace. Unfortunately, I had mixed her up with another agent! She was gracious in her note back to me, but made it very clear that the author I mentioned was not her client. Oops!

I’d love to hear from the rest of you. Share your OOPS moment in the comments!

10 thoughts on “How Many Times Have You Quit?

Add yours

  1. I had an opportunity to submit a query to an editor at a closed house and was supposed to get a response. When I didn’t hear back after the 3 months they’d indicated it would take, I resent the query. Right after I hit send, I noticed I had four glaring typos. And I’d sent it that way twice. I never heard back.

    One of my worst cringe-worthy moments, though, was when I was new to writing. I received a personal letter from an editor, who’d enclosed my easy reader marked up in red with handwritten notes on how to improve it. I didn’t realize that was a gift and an opportunity to resubmit. I was so embarrassed that an editor had found that many mistakes in my manuscript, I tore up the letter and manuscript and even deleted the story on my computer.


  2. We make most of our cringe-worthy mistakes at the beginning, don’t we? Guess it’s so we can see how much we’ve grown!


  3. I once submitted my manuscript to an agent with jpegs of my artwork attached as per the instructions. I had not been notified that they received my submission (it was stated that this would happen), and the deadline had passed. When I inquired about it, the agent graciously told me to send it again because he never got it. I was so excited to not miss this opportunity! Well, it took about 5 more emails (at least) back and forth to get it all through. The jpeg files were too large, then only part came through, his system blocked it … was like I was cursed! By the time I finally got it all submitted it I felt like hiding in bed with the covers over my head and was sure the agent was feeling very sorry for letting me resend my submission! Yikes. He remained gracious throughout the entire deal, and (shockingly!) passed on my book. But he did say some nice things about it. I think he’s a pretty great agent.


  4. I like to keep a written record on notebook paper of everything I send, when and where I sent it, and the result. Once I accidently enclosed it with a submission and sent it off to Simon and Schuster! (Wish they’d sent it back, but I figure they have a big bulletin board where they pin idiotic submissions.)


  5. No query horror stories (yet), but I have a few embarrassing conference stories. One editor told me my picture book reminded him of something by Patricia Polacco, and I had to admit I’d never heard of her. I was immediately pegged as total novice. At another conference, I volunteered to drive the faculty from the train station to the venue, and I accompanied them into the building to make sure they could find their rooms. When it was time for me to go, the editor standing closest to me shifted a little bit toward me. I totally misinterpreted the movement and I hugged her. Her expression: utterly nonplussed. Mine: a cringing shade of red.


  6. I was typing a submission email to a UK publishers when the pen in my mouth dropped out and fell on the keyboard. I watched in horror as the computer screen said ‘sending.’ I was mid sentence and hadn’t even attached the ms yet! I sent again in embarrassment and thankfully nothing was said. But they did reply 3 months later with a pass and some good feedback. 🙂


Thoughts? Questions? Comments? We want to hear them!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: