Monday, November 10, 2008

Not Accepting Failure

The USA Today headline blared, "Entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki doesn't accept failure." What's up with that?

Through the years, I've heard Guy speak a number of times in different settings. When I worked at Christianity.com, I met Guy at a conference (years ago). He is an out-going, highly-visible and innovative person. I encourage you to read the USA Today article and in particular this last quote: "At the end of my life, is it better to say that I empowered people to make great stuff, or that I died with a net worth of $10 billion? " Kawasaki says. "Obviously I'm picking the former, although I would not mind both." You can actually hear Guy Kawasaki tomorrow (Tuesday, November 11th) if you follow this link.

I began to consider what it takes as a writer in today's environment to not accept failure. It means summoning the courage to persist in the middle of rejection. It means continually pitching and knocking on doors until you locate the right one (or ones) which open for your work.

If you want to get your book idea published, are you learning the best possible way to pitch and position your idea when you talk with literary agents and editors? The expectations of editors and agents are high ones for book proposals and manuscripts because of the flood of information coming their direction. You have seconds to capture their attention and you don't want to squander that opportunity.

I've been re-reading Fern Reiss' excellent book, The Publishing Game: Publish a Book in 30 Days. On page 18, Reiss includes a remarkable list of books which were self-published when introduced to the reading public. Here's just a few of 27 titles:

A Time to Kill by John Grisham

In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

The Elements of Style by William Strunk

The Publishing Game is focused on how you can create your own book and push it into the market. It honestly says, "The entry barriers to independent publishers are high. True, by independently publishing you bypass the agents and publishers who wouldn't even unwrap your manuscript. You have control. Unfortunately, unless you have a direct line to your customers, you may nonetheless find it difficult to get your book into circulation." (page 18 & 19). Then the promise of the book, "On the other hand, there are creative ways to bypass these entry barriers. This book tells you how."

The route to getting published is not easy. Can you take a smaller (and shorter) goal such as writing for magazines before your book idea gets into print? Absolutely. Editors and agents are looking for evidence of your involvement in the publishing world--and writing for print magazines can validate and build that confidence.

Keep stretching and learning. The next bit of information you gain from your writing education may provide the key to open the door of opportunity. I encourage you to look into a session I did with eight top editors and literary agents called Secrets About Proposals. You can instantly access this information, download the audio and listen to it. A second tool that I created to help you get on the publisher and agent radar is Proposal Secrets:

This audio coaching program will help answer the typical questions that authors have about pitching and proposals.

Finally I want to return to something everyone can apply to their writing life: attitude. Look inside and summon the courage to persist and move ahead with your dreams and not accept failure. This attitude will show up in your writing.

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1 Comment:

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Kristi Holl Left a note...

Thank you for all the help you've given us in your articles/books/podcasts/blog on dealing with book proposals. Your BOOK PROPOSALS THAT SELL finally took the fear out of writing proposals for me--and has helped me sell a number of books! I liked your comments about failure. It all comes back to that old proverb about falling down six times and getting up seven!
Kristi Holl
Writer's First Aid blog


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