Thoughts from the client list….

jaylake : 20 years. Three novels and over 100 short stories before I got paid for a word. Within five years of that initial sale I’ve sold over 100 shorts, including work to Asimov’s, Realms of Fantasy, and (with specficrider) SCI FICTION, along with Rocket Science in print and book deals with Night Shade and Tor. Read the rest here.

And then read matociquala‘s post about the long journey of what is now titled: Blood and Iron. (Got my copies of the bound galleys for subrights yesterday! Squee…) I really thought she was going to throw the book (in manuscript form) at me when I suggested that rewrite.

And what is the point of my reposting this here? Well… I’ve been to a lot of writers conferences, and I’ve read a lot of queries. And not a week passes in which I have not heard about or read about writers who can’t seem to crack the wall otherwise known as publishing. These stories take various forms and tones. I truly understand that it can be frustrating, particularly that old adage of you need experience to get a job, you need a job to get experience (as applied to publishing: you need writing credits to get a contract, you need a contract to get writing credits). Some of these stories truly pull at the heart-strings: people who are trying with everything they’ve got and just not quite understanding the odds, or still needing more time for their talent to mature, and so forth. A handful of these letters are downright vitriolic or even personally hateful, claiming a conspiracy, or seeming to give the impression that the writer feels they deserve to be published just for submitting their work (regardless of its actual quality). They seem to feel they are entitled to a contract. Let’s make no mistake, though. And let’s skip the sugar-coating. Writing is hard. Getting published is harder. But you’re certainly not going to accomplish it by (a) never finishing anything, or (b) never sending it out. You have to (c) continue to finish things and send them out until your fingers bleed words and you net that first sale. The alternative, of course, is to get lucky like Jay and eBear and have it happen overnight and walk away with that Campbell Award for little to no effort. Wow — that was maybe a teensy bit sarcastic. I guess what I’m saying here is a variation on eBear’s suggestion to “just push.” If it’s really what you want are you going to let a handful (or even a room full) of rejections be all that is standing in your way. They’re stones in the road. Sure, some of them will trip you up, but you’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t pick yourself up, learn something, and keep going.

14 responses to “Thoughts from the client list….

  1. Thanks for posting this. Some total creep told me that Jay simply decided to write one day and got published soon after. If I could remember who it was, I’d have a word.

  2. Thanks for pointing to that post by . I’m a regular reader of hers, but somehow I missed that one.

  3. Thanks for posting this! A reminder for us to keep plugging along 😀 (I mean, I’ve only been writing for 3 years… I got a long away to go. LoL)

  4. Thank you very much for this post. 🙂 It serves as a reminder that setting myself up to do pitches at the next Writer’s Weekend is a Good Thing!

  5. If we can see the journey as being half the excitement, we will enjoy it a lot more, rather than being frustrated at not being able to ‘crack the wall’.
    Question: I am assisting someone with their query letters for a childrens picture book, and have come across an agents submission guidelines saying “By referral only”. What does that mean?

    • My understanding of agents who only want materials by referral is that someone who knows them (a current client, an editor, another agent, etc.) has to suggest them as a potential agent and be cited in the query.
      My own side note — be certain that the name used for the referral is that of someone who actually knows the agent. I get queries all the time that start out with “so-and-so suggested I query you…” and have never heard of said so-and-so.

  6. Seppuku was more likely than assault.
    I did cry, though.
    I’ve sort of come to accept the fact that part of the process of getting my stories into a shape where other people can understand them is working them over until I am sick of their faces and just want them to go away.

  7. And then there is staying published…
    Not easy either, these days.
    The struggle never stops, but oh its so worth it.

    • I like what Jeff amd said in comments on my blogs: no one can make you stop writing.
      Thank, for that post.

      • I’ll have to read their comments. That is true to a point, though life circumstances sometimes come up that force one to put aside writing for a time. That did happen to me, just after I sold my first book. Bad timing, but then, my husband didn’t expect to have an aortic aneurism, either. Had to make some hard choices, but I have no regrets.
        Now, I can put forth the effort again, and yes, I am starting over, maybe a little wiser this time.

  8. yes yes! i agree! keep going forward! :))

  9. Hmm, synchronicity — or not considering I work at a bookstore and a couple of our regulars are local authors or aspiring authors— but I digress a bit.
    Had a conversation tonight with the former Prez of the Oahu RWA (very nice lady), we talked a bit about new writer misconceptions about the ‘biz’ of writing specifically on the error of thinking surrounding agents who snag their 15% (domestic/foriegn 20—whatever) and *poof* they’re Main Street socialites holding power lunches with every Sr Ed in NYC. No one stops to think about how much banking a jr agent has to do to make a decent dime — care to elaborate on some of the myths behind ‘rich agents’? I’d like to hear more.

  10. I think there are certain people who, if they continue as they are doing, will get published eventually. I don’t think it’s so much a case of pure perseverance, but of a consistent improvement of product that improves the author’s chances of getting picked up.
    Then there are those that I think may never be published, or if they are, will be one-shot wonders, because they don’t have it where it takes, or they are not working enough on improving their weak areas.
    I know lots of bitter “aspiring authors” who truly believe there is a conspiracy out there. They honestly think they’ve got a brilliant product and that agents and editors are fools for not seeing that brilliance, or maybe they “do see the brilliance but are out to get” said writer (Can anyone say, la complex persecution?)
    It would be a nice utopia if all writers knew the true value of their writing, free from self-delusion (whether due to ego or ignorance), and every good thing got published.
    But it doesn’t and it never will work that way. Publishing is a business, pure and simple. It is not a reward system for every good little child who writes a good story.

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