My son's preschool class went on a field trip today. Turns out, he was on the opposite side of where I was at that same moment!
As a (yet-to-be-published) children's book author, my three kids know more about publishing than the average child. I've explained to them how it works: I write a manuscript, edit and revise approximately 2 millions times, then send it around to publishing houses. I write a perfectly charming yet succinct letter to accompany said manuscript that might convince them that my picture book or chapter book is worth purchasing and publishing. (Or, I send it to literary agents who will then do that process on behalf of me.)
Then that editor finds an illustrator s/he thinks fits my story and illustrators are planned, sketched, then perfected. Finally, the illustrations and words go together, a dummy is made, then the final is printed and shipped off to bookstores.
And where did my son go on his field trip? To Barnes and Noble--to the very Barnes and Noble our family frequents (especially on cold, snowy days when we've been cooped up with cabin fever). He got to go to the "secret lower level" and see the storage room where "300 books a day" arrive and are sorted before being placed on the shelves.
The class read the very cute and very appropriate How to Read a Story by Kate Messner, drew some bookmarks which my son left there, and found their way back to preschool.
And what did I do today? I submitted my chapter book to two editors I've met at conferences, sending good vibes along with my query and first few chapters first through the internet and then at the post office. I was far from the end product--the look-at-my-book-on-that-shelf moment--but there's beauty and joy in the beginnings, the idea stage, the hopefully maybe-this-time-I'll-get-a-yes moment.
I'm enjoying the though that one day my son's field trip and my manuscripts might meet up at the same place: the bookstore!