Friday, August 7, 2009

In it for the long haul...

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!


Stephanie Faris said...

I've been writing for a ridiculous amount of time. Got sidetracked with a divorce for a while but got right back on the wagon. When I first started out I was overwhelmed by all the advice...but over time you learn to filter out what you need to follow and what you don't. Just don't let it deter you. There are a lot of people who can't wait to deter a new writer by telling her how hard it is but I know SO many published authors who were told the same sort of things when they started out. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take. So take as many as possible!

Rae said...

Sounds like a lot of hoops to jump through but I like what Stephanie said. Take as many shots as possible. You have a bestseller. Don't get discouraged. Soon you will sitting at a table signing your book for your adoring fans. Number one fan right here!

Susan R. Mills said...

Of course you are on the verge of a bestseller! It is a little frustrating. There is so much conflicting info out there, and it's hard to know what is right and what isn't. I guess we just have to do the best we can. :)

TC said...

Have you ever thought world famous brain surgeon would be easier to aspire to? You can do it though, I have faith.

SquirrelQueen said...

If it's something you believe in and something you want then go for it! Just tell yourself this is going to happen, and then make it happen.

Build your reputation, meet the people you need to meet and write a book.

Thanks for the shout by the way.

Lesley said...

Lily, you have learned a lot! Don't be discouraged. Sometimes you have to forget the "big picture" and just continue doing what you love. The end result will be worth it, whether you are a best-seller or just a happy struggling author.

Very interesting about the query letters. I have always believed that one key to my small success as a copywriter is my unique approach to cover letters. I'll have to blog about that some time.

Anyway - keep writing!

Ziggy Stardust said...

I know you will do it, I have no doubts. In the time I have gotten to know you, I realize that you are a woman who doesnt give up. Just the task of running a farm every day, the amount of work and dedication that goes into that is amazing. I can't even imagine it. One of my very favorite movie lines is from A League of Their Own. I say this to my daughter often. "Its supposed to be hard, if it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.

You will do it!!


Jody Hedlund said...

Every writer's journey to publication is so different. That's what is so cool. Just because someone else has to spend 20 years before they're published, doesn't mean we will. Maybe we'll break in after one year! We all have varying levels of talent and knowledge of the craft. The important thing is that we enjoy our writing and each stage of the journey.

Leave a Legacy said...

You go girl! I think I would certainly be discouraged by all this advice and info. So good for you that you're not. I can understand needing the cover letter, but I don't quite understand the importance of how it's written. The manuscript should be the important part. Anyway, yours will be great.

Sharon McPherson said...

'Way to go girl!!!'

I am one of your cheerleaders, willing you on. :)

Terri Tiffany said...

If your novel is half as good as this post--well--you are going to sell a ton!!