Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Another RYS Success Story! — Pat Miller

Logo by Julie Rowan-Zoch

And Rate Your Story is OPEN to submissions (through June 7th)!!

Before we get to today's awesome guest and interview, we want to kindly remind everyone about our submission policy, which includes these lines:

"Furthermore, we ask that you only submit ONE MANUSCRIPT AT A TIME to Rate Your Story. When that manuscript has been returned to you with a free critique rating, then we will accept another submission from you."

If you submitted two, three, four, or (yes, someone submitted five) MSS this month, we will read and rate your first one only. You are free to send another manuscript next month during our submissions window. Please direct any questions to Miranda at the RYS email on the contact page.

And now, to welcome our wonderful guest, a Rate Your Story user and 20-year veteran to the writing business, who recently landed a fantastic literary agent. . .


Pat Miller is the author of Substitute Groundhog (pub. Albert Whitman).

Miranda Paul: When did you want to become a writer?

Pat Miller: I remember the exact place and moment when, at the age of seven, I decided it was the best year of my life. One of the reasons was that I could write my thoughts on paper. I’ve been doing it ever since, and think e-mail is a thoroughly enlightened invention!

Miranda: Email is useful! (Although some days, I have to admit I think email is the cause of undue stress in my life.) But speaking of stress, your recent news about landing an agent has me curious about a topic many writers find stressful—the agent question. Agented or unagented? What's your recommendation? What's it like being agented so far?

Pat Miller: I was unagented for the first 19 years of my career, which included publication of four books for children and 20 professional books for school librarians. I have been agented for only a few months by Stephen Fraser of Jennifer De Chira Literary Agency, and so far, the only difference is that I’ve been rejected by more prominent publishers.

Miranda: LOL. Same here. That's one thing no one ever told me about being agented—how quickly and how many rejections come! But how did you land your agent? Tips for our readers?

Pat Miller: My agent chose me through a submission I made to Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12. So I don’t have tips for getting an agent other than submit only your best work. But I’m quite familiar with the slush pile. Submit your best targeted work. Get Book Markets for Children from Writer’s Institute, or Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market (Writer’s Digest) and highlight every publisher that wants your genre and accepts unagented manuscripts. Send out targeted query letters and submissions. That’s how I found the 32 publishers who rejected Substitute Groundhog, and its publisher, Albert Whitman.

Miranda: Thank you for sharing that. As writers, we often sift through tons of advice from other writers. What's the worst piece of writing advice you ever got?

Pat Miller: “You can’t get published without an agent.”

Miranda: Nice! I'm giggling a little bit, too. Let's keep with a humorous theme. Funniest writing-related story?

Pat Miller: One of my rejection SASE’s was returned empty. There wasn’t even a form rejection letter inside. I learned from that to put the publisher’s name after mine in the return address so I knew who returned the envelope. The good outcome—I share that sorry envelope with students during author visits as the worst of my 32 rejections. It turned out to be a good rapport builder.

Miranda: Too funny! So, how did you hear about Rate Your Story? How were we a part of your writing journey?

Pat Miller: A fellow member of 12x12 posted that RYS had opened the window for submissions. That was the first I’d heard of Rate Your Story. I submitted three stories over the following weeks, one of which earned a 1. The Hole Story is a historical picture book and it ranked a 3. I went a step beyond the generous volunteer evaluations to the Professional Critique section. I hired Jill Esbaum to critique The Hole Story. She gave me some great revision suggestions. This was the story that eventually earned me representation. For Preschool Grandma, I hired Miranda Paul. Though the story was only 138 words, she gave me a five page critique that caused me to entirely revamp the story, leaving few words unchanged. That one is being currently considered by my agent. None of my future stories will leave home without the careful attention of Rate Your Story critiquers!

Miranda: Thanks, Pat! I appreciate the shout out our judges. They do a fantastic job. I know I've had some of them critique my books before submitting!

If writers want to learn more about you, where can they log on?

Pat Miller: My web site is

Miranda: Thank you for stopping by!

Comments are open! Feel free to leave Pat or the RYS team your message below. And remember that submissions close on FRIDAY at midnight!


  1. It's always nice to hear a published writer reinforce how the road to getting published is a long one.

    I bleed picture books and would never write anything else (probably not). Currently, I have a manuscript being slaughtered by agents (form rejections). The topic is about boogers. So, I've decided to try the agent route then submit to publishers. I won't give up until the entire publishing world tells me no.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. That's the spirit, Jessica! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. What an inspiring story, Pat. Good luck with your submissions. And Miranda, thanks as always for providing such an awesome service.

  4. Great interview! Congratulations Pat!

  5. Thoroughly enjoyed the interview. Thanks, Miranda and Pat.

    And a huge thanks to all at RYS! What a wonderful service!

  6. Great interview! Thanks, ladies :) I love that story about the empty envelope :) I can't believe Substitute Groundhog was turned down 32 times!!! It just goes to show that you should never give up and that even great stories sometimes get turned down before they get published!

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  8. Thanks, What an awesome story, Miranda & Pat! Thanks so much for sharing:) I hadn't heard of RYS until this past year. I love it!!!

  9. Thanks, Pat and Miranda! Persistence is the key!

  10. Great story with lots of useful information!

  11. Thanks for a very fun interview, Pat & Miranda. So nice to get a bit of the inside scoop on the agent/no agent situation.

    And a big THANKS to Rate Your Story. Such a helpful service!! You guys are great. :-)

  12. Thanks, Miranda, for providing this platform for us to hear success stories like Pat's. :)
    And one can say you haven't put in the blood, sweat and tears. :) I appreciate you sharing your writing journey, especially the part about having submitted ONE story THIRTY-THREE times to earn the ONE acceptance. :) That is TENACITY...something we need to have as we take this writing journey. :) Congrats...and best of luck with your future work.

  13. How neat that RYS played a part in your story that got the attention of an agent! Congrats, again!

  14. Great interview, Pat and Miranda. I also have seen firsthand the phenomenal job the RYS judges do with their critiques. Congratulations!

  15. What an inspiring story, Pat. Good luck with your submissions. And Miranda, thanks as always for providing such an awesome service.

    Mark Duin

    Inspirational Speaker

  16. Just read this interview today (better late than never). Thanks for sharing. Great insights. Ilove RYS. What an awesomely generous concept. Back to my WIP, more revising before I submit to RYS...only have until the 7th.Thanks a million.


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