Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. T. S. Eliot
This quote was on Judy's The Road to Here blog this morning, in her post, A Far Reaching Thought.
It quickly reminded me of one of my favorite quotes... Thomas Edison said, "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."
I have spent a lot of time this week reading blogs of writers, authors, agents, editors and publishers. If I weren't so determined, and I didn't have my Blogville fan club cheering me on, I could easily get discouraged. Blog after blog advises the same thing: You have to be better than the very best to have the slimmest chance of having anyone even ask for a paragraph of your work. You must spend three years perfecting your query letter, and this only after spending twenty years editing your first novel. Then, if you're luckier than a lottery winner, you must repeat that almost thirty years of work in a few months for your second book, or risk acquiring the reputation of a loser and violating your contract.
I have learned that there are plenty of people out there that make a living at helping you with your query letter, and that using them practically guarantees a letter (according to an agent's blog) that will be tossed. I have also learned that it is much harder to write a good query letter than it is to write a novel.
I have learned that you must make a terrific and lasting first impression with an agent, but must, at the same time, blend into the woodwork, so as not to appear anxiously self-promoting. There are conferences that allow you to mingle with agents, but if you get some face-to-face time, do not, under any circumstances, mention the fact that you have written a wonderful book.
I have learned that if a publisher is interested in reading your manuscript, by all means send it to them, even if it is the wrong thing to do!
I have learned that self-publishing can be a great route for many, but you'd have to be crazy to publish your manuscript without an agent... You will be taken to the proverbial cleaners!
I have learned that there are firm rules that you must adhere to, and even when you do, you'd have better luck getting struck twice by lightening.
With all this wonderful information, am I discouraged? Heck, no! How do you think people advised T.E. when he wanted to fly a kite in a thunderstorm? I'm probably on the verge of a sensational best seller!