The Easy Answer You Don't Want to Hear
By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
I love a good story and getting lost in the pages of a great read. Also for years I enjoy telling stories and putting my fingers on the keyboard and writing it. As I shape a story, hopefully I have a plan where this story will be published. Some people are inspirational writers and only write when the spirit moves them. Others (like me) are writers whether inspired or not to meet a deadline and finish a work. Where do you fall into these two extremes?
After you have written your manuscript or book proposal or query, then you need the courage to get it into the world. As writers we have to pitch or submit our material to a literary agent or an editor. One of my authors let me know he had received a contract offer from another publisher. Then he pushed to get a response from my colleagues. They stepped up the process and ultimately offered him a contract—but he decided to go with the other publisher. Writers have choices and from my experience the selection of a publisher is a critical juncture which can make or break a particular book.
When you are going to push a literary agent or an editor for a decision, you want to be careful. The easiest answer for this agent or editor is the one you don't want: “No thank you” or “Not a good fit for us” or “Going to pass on this opportunity.” The easiest answer is often one you don't want to hear.
A yes or acceptance takes time, patience and persistence. Many of us are short on patience and persistence—yet it is an important quality for every writer. If you are going to push for a decision, I encourage you to pull back and wait or push in a non-threatening fashion—such as doublechecking to make sure they got your submission in the first place and it has not gotten lost. Thousands of submissions are in process. Last week a writer approached me asking if I got her submission. To my chagrin when I checked I had received it but had not moved it into the process and through the system. I apologized for the delay, then moved it forward.
Within the publishing process, a number of elements are outside of our control as writers. Of course, if you self-publish, you can control everything as far as the appearance of your book but the average self-published book sells less than 100 copies during the lifetime of the book. You risk such an experience when you make this choice.
If you haven't read my 10 Publishing Myths, I encourage you to read it. In this book, I focused on the false expectations from writers but also gave practical steps every writer can do to succeed with their book. If you don't have my book, I encourage you to get the 11th Publishing Myth (free). While I'd love each of you to purchase 10 Publishing Myths, here is another idea: check it out from your local library. My local library has three copies of the book--and you can get the book through inter-library loan and read it. There are many different ways to get a book. Don't limit yourself or your readers.
Your persistent and consistent action as a writer is a critical part of the process. Keep going in spite of whatever is happening in your life. Have you pushed an editor or agent for a decision and heard the answer you didn't want? Let me know in the comments below.