Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Must Have Persistence

No. Not right for us. Not at this time. No thank you.  We hear these words a lot in the publishing business.  You pick the area of the marketplace.  The competition is stiff for most of it. Yet every bestselling author that I know has the characteristic of persistence. They carry on in the face of rejection. This entry about the writing life is continuing a series of key characteristics of successful writers. It’s been my privilege to know many writers and to sit in their homes or offices and interview them. I’ve gathered a series of qualities or characteristics each of them exhibit and over the next few days I’m highlighting these aspects.

One of the keys with persistence is to find the right area of the market for your writing. Some writers are stuck trying to write fiction when they should be honing their craft with shorter nonfiction magazine articles. Other writers are trying to get a nonfiction book written when they are born storytellers and have a dynamic fiction style. Yet other writers are trying to write adult material when their ideas and style is perfect for children’s books.  You have to experiment and persist enough to find your place in the market.

Many readers are drawn to the latest Frank Peretti book, Monster, which made the bestseller list when it was introduced. Yet they forget some of the twists and turns in Frank’s journey to publication. I don’t know all of them but I know a few of them. He spent a few years in the Los Angeles area trying to write screen plays and getting constantly rejected.  He returned to his home in Washington State and worked in a ski factory and part time in the church. Throughout this period, Frank continued writing the book, This Present Darkness. The book was rejected fourteen times—and one of those rejections came from the eventual publisher, Crossway Books. 

Ultimately it was a children’s book, part of the Cooper Kids Adventure series, Crossway published. And when they wrote saying they wanted to publish Frank’s children’s book, the same letter said, “And by the way, you earlier sent us this other manuscript, can you send it back?  We’d like to take another look at it.”

Everyone tends to forget This Present Darkness didn’t sell well at first. It began to take off through the word of mouth and in particular the enthusiasm of Christian recording artist Amy Grant talking about the book. Millions of copies of this book are in print today.

Or look at some of the early stages of bestselling author Robin Lee Hatcher’s writing career. As you read this link note the persistence in her writing and learning about her craft. It’s paid off today in a prolific writing career.

I’ve got a ton of these types of stories but note these writers didn’t quit the first time they were rejected. They continued to hone their craft and learn about the marketplace yet also continued to persist in the marketing aspects of this business.


2 Comment:

At 4:41 AM, Blogger C.J. Darlington Left a note...

I've always been inspired by Peretti's persistence. I wonder what he must have been feeling getting rejected over and over again. Reminds me never to give up but still hone my craft to the best it can be. Thanks for reminding us of this, Terry.

At 7:25 AM, Blogger Rhonda Gibson Left a note...

Terry, Your posts always inspire me. This one on persistence hit home and reminded me not everyone achieves overnight success, it may seem like it to others but real success takes time, willingness to continue to learn and grow and faith that God has a plan. Thanks!


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