Wednesday, October 21, 2015

More Notes from OCW: Tiffany Schofield on "The Unexpected Journey"

During Tiffany Schofield's second session at OCW in Eureka Springs, she talked about her unexpected journey into the world of publishing with Five Star and how her journey can parallel that of a writer.

Her discussion focused on three traits she believes writers need to succeed:
* Tenacity
* Dedication
* Community

* As an example of tenacity and persistence, she pointed out mystery writer Agatha Christie, who was rejected for five years, but who ultimately has had two billion books in print (second only to Shakespeare). Tiffany shared a story about a conversation she had during a writing event with best-selling author Jeffrey Deaver, who told her he received 138 rejections for his first manuscript. One rejection letter was even marred with boot stamps, as if someone at the publishing house had walked on his printed submission. Yet, Deaver never gave up. And the boot-stamped manuscript? It eventually got published, as did scores of other of his novels.

* To be dedicated, Tiffany said that a writer must do more than dream of becoming published -- a writer must "leap off that cliff and get started."

* For community, Tiffany encouraged writers to engage in fellowship with others with similar attitudes, interests, and goals. She suggested that writers connect with their readers, attend conferences (like OCW), join or start a critique group, give back to the writing community, and be part of something more.

She wrapped up with a few quotes from Benjamin Franklin. Here's one I jotted down: "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."

To encourage writers to "leap off that cliff and get started," she directed writers to pick up copies of handouts with Five Star's submission query guidelines. I picked up a copy and have summarized them below.

Five Star Publishing, a part of Gale/Cengage Learning:

* Does not accept or review a project based on a query only.
* Accepts and evaluates completed manuscripts that are unsolicited, as well as agented submissions, in the following genres:
  ** Mystery (set in any time period; manuscripts within 65,000-100,000 word count range). (Mystery subgenre examples: cozy, hard-boiled, private eye, traditional, psychological, crime, police procedurals, suspense, thriller, historical, humorous, contemporary Western mystery, romantic suspense, etc.).
  ** Westerns (set during 1800-1899; manuscripts within  55,000-100,000 word count range). (Western subgenre examples: traditional, lawman, action/adventure, etc.).
  ** Frontier Fiction (set during 1700-1920; manuscripts within 60,000-130,000 word count range). (Subgenre examples: historical thriller, frontier mystery, frontier romance, frontier women's fiction, frontier fiction with YA crossover ability (coming-of-age themes), alternate history, frontier SF/fantasy, pioneer settlers, etc.).
* Does not accept previously published materials (including print or eBook).
* Does not accept simultaneous submissions.
* Only accepts author's own original work.

** Five Star does not accept: nonfiction, poetry, memoirs, autobiography, short story collections, or children/YA literature.

E-mail submission query requirements:
* Send an e-mail to
* In the subject line type: SUBMISSION QUERY, Your book title by Author Name
* MUST include in body of your e-mail:
  ** Your full name (pseudonym if applicable)
  ** Address/contact info
  ** Manuscript title
  ** Manuscript word count
  ** Specific subgenre of your submission
  ** Short synopsis about your project

If you have any questions about Five Star's submission guidelines or need clarification of the above, e-mail 

Five Star Publishing is located at 10 Water Street, Suite 310, Waterville, ME 04901

Back to Tiffany's presentation. In addition to tenacity, dedication, and community, I believe writers need talent, patience, and timing to succeed.

How about you? What traits or qualities do you think writers need to be successful?


  1. Your comments and Tiffany's are timeless. I know for certain a writer needs patience, and tenacity. Timing is huge. I've had stories rejected by Chicken Soup and resubmitted the exact story and they published years later in another of their books. I think I'd add thick skin. A rejection is usually about editorial needs. I used to shed a tear, now I shrug when I receive a rejection.

  2. You are right about a writer needing a thick skin. It took me awhile to realize editors weren't rejecting me, they were rejecting my writing. And almost always I've been relieved because the original version wasn't my best work.

  3. Writers need a spark of inspiration to get them going. Otherwise, they're just rubbing two sticks together in a workmanlike manner, waiting for their story to take hold.

  4. I'd say "adventurous" could be added. The willingness to go on the adventure we call writing, the willingness to do something "dangerous" and take a risk, a spirit willing to go on new paths...

    Thanks for sharing bits of advice from the workshop, Donna. Those who were unable to go appreciate it.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Also good ones. Being adventurous and taking risks are what make your writing sparkle.

  5. Patience and tenacity, as your friend says...I haven't got either! I'm very flighty, I would love to write but I'm not good at thinking, and to write you need to think things out.

  6. Patience and tenacity, as your friend says...I haven't got either! I'm very flighty, I would love to write but I'm not good at thinking, and to write you need to think things out.

  7. Welcome back. I also write things out and jot things down to spark my writing.

  8. Hey Donna, trying to get caught up and sad to see that I've missed so much here. Tenacity is a big one, as are patience, talent, and timing. I would add passion, and also something that's fairly obvious: a writer must love to read. Odd as it seems, I've had several people ask me about how to get started writing, yet after further conversation, they'll say something like, "Oh, but I don't like to read." My goodness, what on earth would be the point?

    Thanks so much for this post. It's wonderful, as always.


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