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my picture book failure

My Big Fat Picture Book Failure

By Melissa Uhles

It’s easy to share our successes with the world but harder to share stories of failure. Today I’m sharing my picture book failure so that you know you are not alone if you’ve tried and failed at something. Writing is one of those aspirations that can require a thick skin and will involve some tolerance of rejection.


If you follow our blog you may know that I eventually had my first ​romance novel​​​ published by Limitless Publishing. After that happened I thought I’d try my hand at writing picture books. I’d read enough of them to my little boy over the years. When he was little I even self published a children’s book so I could give it to my little guy, as a gift.

This time around I wanted to submit to agents. So I did. After emailing over 20 agents and a few small presses, I was met with one hundred percent rejection. Well, one agent said I was a good writer and she’d welcome future submissions. That was positive.

Just to back-up a little...Before submitting I wrote five different stories and chose the one that seemed the best. I joined a group to find beta readers and had my favorite picture book read by five readers. Then I made corrections based on their notes. In other words, I did my due diligence before sending out my manuscript.

Anyway, after that I knew it was time to shove it in the metaphorical drawer and move on. In my heart, picture books didn’t seem to be calling me. It was something I wanted to try and I had.

You can only fail if you try. The more tragic thing is to never take the risk of putting your work out there.

Today I am making myself vulnerable to encourage you to keep writing, submitting and trying. I’ve written a lot of other things since I tapped out this story.

Despite the end result, I still love this story. I wrote it with my kiddo in mind. I’ll let you guess which one of us is the skunk and which one of us in the porcupine.

If you have a child that struggles with needing space or invading the space of others, you might wanna read this one aloud. Sorry it doesn’t have pictures:)

Skunk Needs Space

Download a copy HERE

By Melissa Uhles

Porcupine zipped into the classroom. She plunked down on the floor next to her friend, Skunk.

“Scoot over a little, you’re poking me with your quills,” Skunk said.

Porcupine inched over.

“I need space!” Skunk yelled.

Mrs. Bananabear said, “Let’s keep our voices quiet and our bodies and hands to ourselves. Some of us need more space than others.”

“What’s space?” Porcupine asked with a huff.

Skunk piped up, “It’s like when you have an imaginary bubble around you and you feel safer when no one is too close to pop your bubble.”

“That’s a good way to explain it. Now, who is ready for a snack?” Mrs. Bananabear said.

Everyone’s hands shot up. Teacher handed each student a small cup of blueberries.

Porcupine tipped the cup up chewing a big mouthful at once and swallowed it down. Then she reached her hand into Skunk’s cup and grabbed a blueberry and plopped it into her mouth.

“I need space. Hands off my blueberries!” Skunk said.

“Sorry,” Porcupine skulked.

After snack time, everyone got up and moved to their finger painting stations. Skunk was thinking about what he wanted to paint.

Porcupine dipped some of her quills in paint and dabbed them onto Skunk’s paper.

Skunk roared, “Stop painting on my paper!”

“I just wanted to paint with you,” Porcupine said.

“I need space!” Skunk turned around with his tail facing Porcupine. “Don’t make me spray you with my tail because I will.”

Porcupine stumbled backward. She covered her face preparing for a spray. “Am I far enough away now?”

“That’s better.”

“Fine.” Porcupine hung her head low.

The next day at school, Porcupine kept her distance from Skunk. On the playground, she whizzed down the slide all by herself. Then Skunk waddled up to her.

“Uh oh,” Porcupine said as she got up and ran toward the swing set.

“Where are you going?” Skunk asked.

“I’m giving you space! I don’t want to pop your bubble!” Porcupine yelled.

“Thanks! Hey, do you want to play hide and seek?” Skunk asked.

“I need space!” Porcupine said.

“I understand,” Skunk said.

“Just kidding. I don’t need space like you do,” Porcupine said.

Skunk shrugged his shoulders, “I guess we’re all different.”

Porcupine hid and Skunk counted to ten.  They were back to being friends again.

The End

Have you sent out a manuscript that got rejected? How did you make yourself keep writing? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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The proven steps for failing at writing a picture book. Free children's book included. |how to write | writing tips | children's books | picture books | writing rejection

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