I’m always amazed at what some writers manage to slip into their pitches. Over the weekend, a writer asked if I would be interested in looking at a friend’s fiction manuscript. In the brief email, she mentioned that the novel started slow (took a bit to get into the plot), was self published and needed some editorial help, and was a bit long. I’m sure this writer was being honest with her information about this friend’s work but it certainly didn’t score any points to encourage me to read it. I consider almost anything (as least for a few seconds) as a fiction acquisitions editor. I wrote a short email encouraging the submission—but some of my expectations have already been set from the pitch. This writer could have used some self-investment—before she self-published her book.
Many people have dreams and aspirations to publish a nonfiction book or a novel. Are these people willing to do the self-investment to achieve those dreams? I find many writers lack self-investment. This weekend I was reading the journey to publication for Austin Boyd. His first novel, The Evidence, released this month from NavPress. Boyd wrote about his experience on his website. For eight years, Boyd read books and articles about how to write a great novel. He mentioned reading nearly 30 Writer’s Digest books about novel writing.
In addition to studying the craft of writing and working hard at a quality novel, Boyd made an additional investment. He hired a freelance editor for a developmental edit. From his story, you will notice Boyd sent through this process several times and involved paying someone else and 15 months of hard work. Then Boyd worked with a professional to develop a query letter and book proposal which was sent to 50 editors and 50 publishers. When the publishers rejected the submission, he concentrated on finding a literary agent. Notice Boyd’s persistence and perseverance in this process.
After six more months, Boyd signed with an agent. This agent advised Boyd to attend a writer’s conference and recommended two forthcoming conferences. This conference was another self-investment step and a great career move because of the new relationships Boyd formed at the conference.
We live in this instant society where people want instant everything—including a published book. Often these individuals don’t make the necessary self-investment to follow the two common themes Boyd mentioned: produce quality work and sell what the editor is buying. This need for self-gratification leads many writers to self-publish before their work is ready for public consumption. Then they are disappointed with the lack of interest and results.
Where are you on the journey to publication? Are you making that self-investment to grow as a writer? Take some action steps today and tomorrow. I’m convinced it will pay off in the long run.