Follow The Open Doors
Have you ever stood around with a bunch of writers or editors? When there is some honest conversation in play, it usually doesn’t take long until you hear about the litany of things which are not happening. Maybe it’s a personal crisis and the writer has missed a deadline. Maybe the sales on a recent book haven’t matched expectations. Or maybe those query letters fly into a black hole (no response). Or your calls to your agent are not returned (I’m talking about an editor or an agent where you have a working and on-going relationship).
We have to face that publishing is a difficult business. As writers, we heard the word “no” a great deal. As editors, we have to say the word “no” a great deal. I don’t believe it’s any fun for anyone to say “no” or to hear “no.”
I’ll confess I forget who taught me this basic principle. I know my writing stands on the work and the shoulders of many teachers and other writers. As I’ve interviewed and talked with many of these people, I’ve learned a tremendous amount of information. Here’s the principle: follow the open doors.
Write for the publications that say yes to your query letters—and where the writing and editorial process goes smoothly. I know it sounds simple but to put it another way—work with the people who want to work with you.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s great to have high goals for your book or your magazine article—to reach and touch many people. Some times we set our expectations on something and knock on the door repeatedly—too much—and it simply never opens. Go with those people (editors and publishers) who “get you.” They understand your audience and your writing. They don’t have to be coerced or cajoled into action but there is a simple meeting of the minds and an enthusiasm for great writing.
Do lots of door knocking—lead prospecting—query letter writing—book proposals. It’s where you express your availability and willingness to serve and to write what is needed in a particular situation. That door knocking is a constant part of the process in publishing. But let’s not sit around complaining about all the inaction in the publishing world (at least as we know it).
Instead look for those open doors and when there is a crack in the door, leap through them. Amazing things lie ahead for you when you follow this philosophy.