Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Value of Persistence

In the writing world, it happens often. A writer will craft a piece of writing—like a query or a book proposal or a magazine article or a book manuscript. They will approach an editor or literary agent and either get no response or a polite “no thank you.” At this point in the process, the writer can give up and chalk it up to experience. Or they can choose another path of persistence and keep getting their work into the marketplace.

I often tell writers that successful publishing is the process of being in the right place at the right time with the right person with the right material.  A number of rights have to line up for that piece of writing to be published. As a writer, you are in search of the right opportunity. It does not happen instantly. And if it does, then that is a rare fluke. It happens to me—all the time. I write emails which are unanswered. I make phone calls and leave messages which are not returned. I even offer book contracts to authors which they don't acknowledge or accept.  The lack of response bothers me but it does not make me stop or give up. I understand the value (and necessity) of persistence.

In the last few weeks, an author signed her contract with Morgan James Publishing. Her memoir will be published next year. When we spoke, she told about sending her manuscript out to various literary agents and not getting a single response. I was struck with this lack of response.  Maybe her pitch wasn't attractive. Maybe she sent it to the wrong literary agents. There are any number of variables which can cause this type of response but I still felt bad for this author.  I found her personal story fascinating and well-written.  As her book gets published next year, I hope it catches a lot of attention in the market.  I've tried to manage this author's expectations and encourage her that the success of her book will be 80% up to her efforts. There are many unknowns ahead but I'm confident in this author because she understands the value of persistence.

One of the best known examples of persistence in the publishing community is Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen for their first Chicken Soup for the Soul book.  As Mark explains in the foreword for Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, their book was rejected 140 times. Now that is a lot of rejection.   In the process, Jack and Mark heard every reason for rejection from large and small publishes—yet they persisted to believe in their book and that they would eventually find a publisher.  Now this series of books is one of the best-selling books in history. If you follow this link, you can read the complete story and download the foreword and first chapter of the updated edition of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams.

What challenges are you facing with your current publishing? Are you getting rejected?

Maybe you need to send your material to a different set of editors or agents. Maybe you need to learn more about the craft and business of writing to improve the quality of what you are sending.  Possibly you need to select a good writer's conference to attend in the next few weeks or months. There are many ways to learn the skills you need. For example, I've had a number of people take my Write A Book Proposal course and gain practical teaching from those lessons. Each of us need to keep growing in our knowledge and skill and connections in this business. Persistence has great value.

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