Monday, April 4, 2016

Author Pat Miller's Success Story: The Hole Story of the Doughnut

I am so grateful to author Miranda Paul and her hard-working reviewers at Rate Your Story. They had an important part in the publication of my first nonfiction trade book, The Hole Story of the Doughnut.

Here’s the behind-the-scenes timeline:

January 10, 2013 - I was a new member when I read Lori Degman’s post on Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 FB group. Lori introduced us to Rate Your Story and its amazing offer to critique stories at no charge. I had a historical fiction story ready to send to Highlights for its annual fiction contest. Perfect timing! Off it went.

January 13 – My story rating came back: 3: “Good Story—Get a critique or two and polish before submitting.” Some helpful suggestions were included.

I had no critique group, and the deadline was two weeks away. Luckily, I saw this at the end of the RYS rating: “Want a more in-depth, professional critique? Visit the RYS Professional Critiques page to hire a published writer to help make your manuscript better!” (page here).

January 14 - I read all the RYS reviewer bios and chose Jill Esbaum. Jill is the author of twelve books for kids and former instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature. We worked out a fee and Jill said she could turn it around well before the Highlights deadline. 

January 23 - True to her word, Jill got her comments back to me. I made changes based on some of her feedback, and got my story off to Highlights just before deadline. 

February 1 - For the first time, Julie’s 12 x 12 offered the opportunity to submit a manuscript to an agent for review. I rewrote my story as a nonfiction biography. Jill and I arranged another critique, and her responses helped me re-examine some parts. A few days later, at the SCBWI-Austin conference, I won a hotly contested silent auction prize—a critique from Newbery-honor winner Kathi Appelt. She also took a look at Hole Story and made suggestions.

February 26 - I submitted my NF bio, The Hole Story of the Doughnut to 12 x 12’s first agent Stephen Fraser. In two hours, he replied that he liked my story! Could I make a couple of small changes and resubmit? Of course!

April 1 - Stephen wrote “I would be interested in representing this manuscript if you can add one more sentence.” And it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke! He called me the next day, and I can report that I did not squeal like a pre-teen. At least, not until I hung up. 

April 2 – I withdrew my story from the Highlights Fiction Contest.

July 19 – Stephen wrote, “Houghton Mifflin Harcourt would like to publish The Hole Story of the Doughnut! I'll keep you posted.”  More squealing.

March 21, 2014 – I heard from Kate O’Sullivan, Executive Editor at HMH. She said she was excited about my “excellent story” and that the search for an illustrator would begin in the near future.

May 30 – Kate suggested several illustrators and asked me to submit some suggestions. Really?!

September 8 – From Kate: “Excellent news: Vincent X. Kirsch is on board to illustrate DOUGHNUT” 

May 12, 2015  Kate sent “the mechanicals”, a color copy of the book pages as they would be sent to the printer.

July 23 – From Kate: “DOUGHNUT is on our spring ’16 list.”

November 2 – From Kate: “Great news: HOLE STORY is a Junior Library Guild Selection!”

May 3, 2016The Hole Story of the Doughnut makes its debut!

For more about Pat Miller, visit


  1. Love the timeline reveal, Pat. It's so important for anyone writing PBs to know about the amount of time it can take to publish a book. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Really looking forward to your book!

  2. Thanks, Julie. Gestating and birthing my twins took much less time, and possibly just a little more pain, than getting my book from idea to publication. Fortunately for me, I had a number of literary midwives helping me with the book's birth!

  3. Thanks for sharing the publication journey of this book! Can't wait to read it. Congrats!

  4. What a great story about the story! Congrats, Pat, on all of your success!

  5. Pat, it was very instructive to read your timeline. I am so thrilled for you! The idea of a professional edit may be in order for me, soon. Can't wait for my Doughnut!!!!

    1. Is this the dog story you were working on? I'm happy to hear about your progress?

  6. Wow Pat, it's so encouraging to see your timeline for The Hole Story! I am thrilled, and despite the calories, I plan to celebrate on your book birthday by eating a DOZEN all by myself. With a pot of java. Cheers!

    1. My understanding is that chocolate (or doughnuts), eaten as a literary accompaniment, only has 10% of the calories.

  7. And when did you say that book signing was at the bookstore in your area?

    1. I'm signing at Blue Willow Bookstore in Houston on May 3, and at the Sweetgrass Lakehouse on June 3, which is also National Doughnut Day!

  8. Pat, I loved your timeline for your latest book The Hole Story. Love the cover too! I'm considering the NF4NF this year... sounds great.I really enjoyed your website. ;-)
    My latest writing news: signed a contract for my first adult novel, Nettie's Dream.

  9. Sorry I am late to the party, Pat...but I know I've congratulated you on other forums. ;) Thank you for sharing your success's inspiring...and yummy!

  10. Congratulations on your debut picture book - I can't wait to read it! I'm so glad my post led you this amazing site!


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