Sunday, November 12, 2023

The Only Path to Success

By Terry Whalin

It sounds counterintuitive. The only path to success is through regular failure. To consider this topic, let’s begin with a couple of stories. 

Thomas Edison invented numerous inventions which we continue to use today--like the light bulb. “But despite his outstanding success, Edison failed frequently. In fact, it sometimes took thousands of attempts – literally – to perfect his experimentation. That was exactly the case when Edison was working to devise a novel storage battery. According to his close friend Walter S. Mallory, Edison had already tried 9,000 experiments and hadn’t yet found a solution. When Mallory commented about the lack of results, Edison promptly responded, “Results! Why, man, I have gotten lots of results! I know several thousand things that won’t work!”

Or consider James Dyson and his 5,126 failures to invent a vacuum cleaner. acuum cleaner. “That’s how many failures James Dyson went through before finding the winning prototype for his first vacuum cleaner. Five thousand — one hundred — twenty-six! That meant four years of developing the product, going deep into debt and putting up his house as collateral to the bank loan. He pinned everything on this invention without any guarantees that it would ever work. That level of determination and patience is absolutely mind-blowing to me. James is now the fourth richest person in the UK with an estimated net worth of £16.3 billion. Well deserved, I say!”

As writers, we face a great deal of rejection. Many people have forgotten those early days of finding a publisher for Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, the co-authors of Chicken Soup for the Soul (one of the bestselling series in the English language). Their submission was rejected 140 times which is a lot of rejection. Yet they continued looking for a publisher. Mark wrote this story in the foreword of my book Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. Follow this link to dowload a free section of this book including the foreword.  

If your work is getting rejected from editors and literary agents, keep submitting and writing. Your persistent effort will pay off if you continue looking for the right fit for your work. I admit the path is not an easy one. Ive been rejected many times in my own journey. Ive come to understand that rejection is not person but saying my writing was not the right fit for that particular editor or agent. I have to keep submitting and keep connecting with new people to find the right fit for my work.

The process or journey is not easy but possible. I encourage you to: 

--keep making new connections. Who you know is almost as important as what you know.

--keep learning your craft and reading how-to books, articles and online courses. Ive been studying publishing for decades and continue to learn new aspects all the time. 

--keep trying new types of writing. In the free excerpt from Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, I have a detailed list of the variety of writing. You may not be a book author but you may be excellent at magazine articles. Its a conversation I had recently with a contributing editor at Guideposts (one of the top circulation publications). She hasnt published a book but loves writing short magazine articles and reaching millions with her writing.  

The only way to fail in your publishing efforts is to quit the journey. I encourage you to continue to move forward on the only path to success. Let me know what you think in the comments below. 


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