Peg366's Blog

The Five P’s Of Pre-Publishing.

Posted on: November 9, 2009


by Peg Finley 2006_0627Image0062

            Becoming a published writer takes work… emotionally, mentally and physically. It takes passion, persistence, practice, perfection and patience to make it in this competitive field, especially with all the talented writers that are out there.

 I started seriously writing for children in the summer of 2004 (though I dreamt about being a writer of children’s stories and books for years and years). I have learned a lot since that time. My poor critique partners put up with a lot from me and I am forever in their debt.

 Let’s get back to what this article is really about. The Five P’s of Pre-Publishing are Passion, Persistence, Practice, Perfection, and Patience.

            1.         Passion is defined by Thornton Barnhart Beginning Dictionary’s Fifth Edition as “a thing for which a strong liking is felt.” For me as a writer, I found having a passion for writing is what writing is all about. My passion started small with an article about my mom and grew to the point where not writing regularly can be compared to not breathing regularly. For me, writing just needs to be done if I am going to live. When I experience a bit of a writer’s block, it drives me crazy. It drains me mentally.

Sometimes, your passion may be what catches an editor’s eye. I know it has gotten me a second look for a manuscript I wrote recently. Her personal note thrilled me when it read,” Your passion for writing comes through loud and clear.”

            2.         Persistence comes from the base word “persist.” It is defined as “a refusal to stop, not giving up in the face of difficulties.” Rejections, even personal ones, are not something that a writer likes to receive but it happens…even to the most talented writer. When I got my first rejection I thought, I’m never going to write again. I almost gave up until my critique group members encouraged me to revise it and send it out to another publisher.  They said “Practice makes perfect, Peg!”  So practice, practice and more practice became one of my mottos. I have the carpal tunnel and sore back to prove it.

            3.         The definition of Practice is “an action being done over and over to develop a skill.” I’m living proof that growth as a writer can come directly from the art of practice. Now, when I pull out a piece I worked on during that first year, I can’t help but laugh. Believe me, some of it would be good comedy material if only I had any comedy timing.

            While revising/practice can be a writer’s worst enemy, it became my best friend when I realized that my stories improved with revision. Unfortunately, it was a hard lesson for me to learn. I balked at doing revisions for almost a year after I started to write … then finally I truly accepted it. Now, I look at getting suggestions from others as a challenge for me to make my words absolutely “perfect.”

            4.         Perfection comes next. I’m not just talking about dotting your “i’s” and crossing your “t’s” …though those things are crucial. It’s in a writer’s best interest to get a good grammar book. You’ll want to submit the most professional cover letter and manuscript that you possibly can. Neatness does count…but just as important is a writer’s use of the best possible choice of words. Consider the following two sentences. The little girl was excited versus The tiny blond girl’s eyes sparkled as the ice cream truck pulled up.  The details matter. It makes the subject come to life for the reader. We know the what, why, when, where and how of the little girl’s excitement.

            5.         Patience which is defined as “a calm bearing of pain or of difficulty waiting.” For me, this was one of the most difficult of the five P’s to master.  I still struggle with the “I wanted it yesterday” syndrome. It is just less emotionally painful than it used to be.

When I had passionately and persistently practiced my craft to perfection and sent it out, it was hard to wait.  Talk about tongues twisters; try wrapping your tongue around that one. It was torture to send off my “baby” and not hear back about its fate. This is sometimes aggravated by the current industry policy of not responding unless they, the publishers, are interested in publishing a manuscript. For me, even a form rejection is better than not knowing what is happening.

            Now, for those who decide that self-publishing is the way to go…all of the above paragraphs apply. The big difference is in what you have to be patient about.

            If you take the time to follow the Five P’s of Pre-Publishing, you too can get that wonderful first acceptance and be on “cloud nine.” I wish you the best of luck on your writing journey.


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I am an aspiring picturebook writer with some magazine credits just no picture book contract yet. I know it is coming and I am more than willing to work for it.

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July 2009

November 2009
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My Favorites:

I love the children's movies Wizard of Oz and the Neverending Story. Both movies make me feel the lesson that hope is alive and well. After seeing UP this past week, it just might have a chance at being added to this list.

I love the cool colors of blues and purples.Those colors are peaceful for me.

I love The Velveteen Rabbit. Even as an adult, I still feel the urge to cry when he becomes real. I know, silly, but a good book can make me laugh and cry as it takes me on a magical journey.

Authors and Illustrators:

Authors, Author/Illustrator, Illustrators that I know and/or Like.


C= Children

MG= Mid Grade

T= Teen

YA= Young Adult

A= Adult


Bonnie Adamson *

Kathi Appelt *

Tedd Arnold


Natalie Babbit

Molly Bang

Bonnie Becker

Jan and Stan Berenstain

Judy Blume

Tracey M. Cox

Linda Crotta Brennan *

Jan Brett

Janie Bynum *

Eric Carle

Pam Calvert

Nancy Carlson

Beverly Cleary

Kevin Scott Collier

Sharon Creech

Doreen Cronnin

Tomie dePaulo

Kate DiCamillo

Kathleen Duey *

Dotti Enderle

Jan Fields *

Denise Fleming

Mem Fox

Kelley Milner Hall

Amy Heist

Kevin Henkes

Ellen Jackson *

Jeff Kinney

Jackie French Koller

Ursula K. LeGuin

Leo Lionni

Lois Lowry

Mercer Mayer

Robert Munsch

Laura Numeroff

Linda Sue Parks

Dav Pilkey

Patricia Polacco

Peggy Rathmann

Bethany Roberts

David Shannon

Aaron Shepard

Donna J. Shepherd *

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Jerry Spinelli

Diane Stanley

Chris Van Allsburg

Rick Walton *

Lisa Wheeler

Mo Willems

Karma Wilson *

Audrey Woods

Jane Yolen *

Favorite Websites:

Favorite Blogs:

• ShelfTalker: A Children’s Bookseller’s Blog
• Alice’s CWIM Blog
• A Fuse #8 Production
• Cynsations
• Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent
• Editorial Anonymous
• Miss Snark’s First Victim
• Writing for children and teens

Favorite Quotes.

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