In the meantime, I have read several blogs that I happened upon that discuss the reality of getting children's books published. The reality is not a pretty one, but I like being realistic with my expectations. Again, this information is based on children's books, not normal fiction, and is only based on what I read this week - links to the sources are below.
This is what I learned:
1. It is realistic to expect it to take eight to ten years to get a single chapter book published - this is true even if your book ends up being award winning.
2. The advance payment for a children's novel maybe could be about $5000. If there are illustrations, you have to split the money with the illustrator. If you get the whole amount and spend a year writing the book, that amounts to $100 a week before taxes. Absolutely, you would make more doing anything else.
3. To mentally cope with the potential to only make $100 a week to be paid out eight or ten years later, I prefer to think of it in terms of hourly wage. No way do I ever spend 40 hours a week writing. If you spend an hour or two a year working on that book for 50 weeks, that $100 a week translates into $50-$100 an hour, which makes me feel much better about it. Note to self to write faster.
4. The publisher picks the illustrator for you - and decides how much of the booty they get. No need to pay for art class.
5. If you are able to get your manuscript in to a publisher and it takes a long time to get a response, that might mean that someone liked it and passed it on before they rejected it - this is good news. If you get a quick response, it is possible that an intern rejected it immediately.
6. If you send in a manuscript that gets multiple rejections, put it aside and write more. Don't make it your white whale.
7. Let other writers read your manuscript and read theirs as well as published books in the genre you write in. Get feedback from other writers and edit your manuscript meticulously before sending it to a publisher.
8. While you are waiting for your first story to be published, write ten more. Your writing skills will improve with each book. When the tenth one is finally published, you will find it easier to publish the first nine.
9. Write because you love it. Write what you love. Take satisfaction in writing or the ten years will be a very long wait. Tell wonderful stories and eventually someone will want to publish it. Hopefully. Maybe. Nothing personal if they don't.
10. Don't plan on becoming a millionaire writing. If you end up getting ten books published after a ten year wait, you will potentially get paid $50,000 all at once. Yeh, that still isn't much money. Make sure your spouse keeps his/her good paying job and/or keep your day job and write at night.