Subscribe to SLJ
Bowllan's Blog
Inside Bowllan's Blog

Teacher-Authors = Despair

"With the help of three teachers–Miss Ellis, Mrs. Davis, and Mrs. Bargeloh–two classes began writing their first book." How sweet!

So why is it so easy for kids to get published – but not teachers? By the way, this book is about a cat who lived in a school for seven years. It’s being released this week and happens to be a huge success. (See the full story here.) 

But here’s a letter from an aspiring teacher-author who hasn’t been so lucky. He gave me permission to reprint his email under a pseudonym.

Dear Ms. Bowllan,

I saw your blog, thanks to our amazing librarian, and thought I’d contact you. Kudos on the great, common sense advice and viewpoint that you share. Reading your blogs was a very enjoyable and uplifting experience for me.

I’m a high school English teacher who’s pursuing a career as a young adult author. So far I’ve accumulated quite a few rejection letters, but I’m hanging in there. Last October I was able to secure the representation of an agent named Susan Schulman. Some of Susan’s clients include Louis Sachar (Holes) and Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient). It’s a good thing that I love teaching because having an agent has only helped to obtain rejection letters from people higher up in the publishing food chain. I tell my wife that I haven’t been rejected this much since I was single.  But I really want to continue teaching, even if my writing takes off, because it’s so rewarding…plus it’s fun to prove the old "those who can’t, teach" cliché wrong.

I know your blog asked for teacher-writers to send our stuff, but, since I haven’t published anything (other than a short story and a few poems in my college’s anthology), I just thought I’d drop you a line. Hopefully my babbling hasn’t put you to sleep. I just got excited when I saw someone who actually appreciates how difficult it is to write while being a full time teacher.

Thanks for your time!


Stephen Hines

Thanks Stephen!  Personally, I think it’s shameful that teachers have such a difficult time getting published. Maybe that’s why I haven’t received many emails from teacher-authors? They are certainly in the front lines when it comes to "real stories." I haven’t met a teacher yet who didn’t have a story to tell…and a good one too. 

So I challenge the publishers out there…GIVE TEACHERS A CHANCE! Give Stephen a chance. Please! What should he and other aspiring authors do?  Send me an email, and I will post your responses @


  1. Monica Edinger says:

    I gotta to say that, in my experience, I don’t think we teachers have it better or worse than other aspiring writers when it comes to trying to get published. Or major writers for that matter. Take a look at Jane Yolen’s online journal and you will see that even big names like her get rejections.

  2. Kris Bordessa says:

    I’ll agree with Monica! I’ve had some success with non-fiction and am technically a published author. Even that doesn’t make it any easier to sell children’s fiction. It’s a tough business to be in, and thick skin is mandatory no matter WHAT your background. I did get a good chuckle out of the letter, though – all very true!

  3. Thanks Monica and Kris,

    I published an ebook, The Land of Crayons, back in 2000. Since that time it’s been quite difficult getting it into hard copy. Just from my own experience, I don’t find teachers to be thick skinned at all. Thanks for the comments.