The Rough Road to Publishing WHISPER

Whisper cover final

On the very first day of my existence, hands pushed me into the cold water and held me down, waiting for me to drown, but even then I was quiet and knew how to hold my breath. ~Whisper Gane

Q: Hey You’re Getting Published! How did that happen? 

It has been a long, hard road to publication and if you have experienced something similar, I understand your frustrations.

Twelve years ago, I began writing my first young adult book. I’ll admit it, I still love that book, even though it has never been published. The main character was based on one of my students who was flippant, sarcastic, and an emotional wreck. I could relate to her so well and she made a fantastic protagonist. I wrote the book and sent out chapters to agents. Within two weeks, I had an agent.

Happy story, right? Ah, but my story is just beginning. The agent was fantastic. He loved the manuscript. He sent it out to editor, after editor, after editor. He compiled a list of editors who turned down the manuscript. This list, after three years, was over thirty publishers long. Then came the email. “Sorry, I am unable to sell your manuscript. You need to look for a new agent.”

And did I look for a new agent? No. I had a child. Then I had another child. By 2006, I was working full time, had two children, and could barely see straight let alone write and find an agent. In a frantic, desperate move, I sent my original manuscript to PNWA’s YA novel contest and….won. Yay, right? This would be my step into publication.  I naively thought that agents and editors would see that I was a fabulous writer (winning awards and all) and would come in droves to request my book.

I had no bites and, honestly, didn’t know how to market the book.

By that time I’d written another novel, sent it to PNWA, and won again in 2007.  Agents and editors would be interested for sure! I had won the contest two years in a row.

I’m afraid that novel, too, did not find an agent.

And on I went in my crusade. This time, I applied to the MFA program at Portland State University and was accepted. This would be the answer: I would hone my skills and rival John Green with my amazing metaphors. Instead, it took me almost four years to finish a program that most students complete in 18 months. I spent an entire year on my thesis alone. And thus WHISPER was born. For three and a half years, I polished, tweaked and rewrote. When I graduated in 2011 from the program, I reworked the novel one more time and sent it out in 2012. And finally, my wait was over. An editor from Orca Publishing dug my manuscript out of the slush pile, called me up, and said she wanted to work on it. (She is amazing and I’m so thankful that she gave me a chance.)

I didn’t sleep for three days.

 It has been a long, hard road. But persistence does pay off. Keep working. Keep writing. Get those 10,000 hours in and send that manuscript out yet again.  One of my MFA professors once told me that’s it’s not necessarily the most amazing writers who get published; it’s the persistent ones, and even though I believe many amazing writers do get published, sheer hard work will pay off.

What’s your debut book about?

 Blurb: Whisper was a reject, living in a world so polluted and damaged that many humans and animals alike were born with defects.  She’d grown up in an outcast camp far from any village, and those who lived in the camp were like her:  disfigured.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Whisper’s father came to take her back to the village where she was to fill her mother’s vacated spot and perform duties for the family.  Her job was to cook, clean, wash the clothes, and maintain the family property.  At night she was chained to the doghouse.

This is a story about Whisper, trying to find a place in a world that doesn’t accept her.  It is a story of rejection, pollution and social status.  Whisper discovers that through perseverance, friends and determination, anyone can find a way to fit.Christina Bonn


5 thoughts on “The Rough Road to Publishing WHISPER

  1. Wow! I’m breathless at both Whisper’s story, and your own. I applaud you for telling how long it took. My debut novel NO SURRENDER SOLDIER was also released this year and my path isn’t all that different from yours. It also took a decade from first draft to finding a publisher. My first agent kept me for 2 yrs., trying to sell a different YA novel with lots of bites, no takers. Getting published really is about perseverance. Can’t wait to read WHISPER, and I know you are gong to publisher forever-after because you have the long-term stamina to keep writing and subbing.

  2. Wow, Chris and Chris, I think we all have this perseverance story in common and thanks to both of you for sharing! And how encouraging it is when we can share it with each other and rejoice in each other’s triumphs!

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