“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4
A few years back, right after my first sale, I was asked how many manuscripts I’d completed before finally making a sale. I know authors who can say, “My first manuscript sold.” Wow! I think that’s wonderful! Amazing, even! But my answer was nowhere near my first manuscript. In fact, I’d written 21 complete manuscripts before the first sale. Double digits.
Now, before you start wondering how I found editors that continued to read my work after I sent that many manuscripts, let me explain that the majority of those never made it to the post office. I knew they weren’t ready, and I didn’t want my first impression to be anything less than my best. So I kept writing until I thought I got it right.
Realizing that I might not be the only author who’d had a test of perseverance on the way to publication, I polled a few authors and learned that there are several who were also into double digits before they sold…
- Renee Andrews (21)
- Stephanie Rowe (18)
- Tanya Michaels (14)
- Karen L. King (14)
- Jennifer Lewis (12)
- Beth Cornelison (12)
- Jennifer Echols (10)
- Bonnie Gardner (10)
- Lois Winston (10)
- Jane Myers Perrine (10)
What advice would these double digit authors give those who are continuing to write, but haven’t received that coveted call yet?
Write every day. Don’t stop at partials (I didn’t allow myself to start another manuscript until the one in progress was complete). Set your goals high. Enter contests (you never know when your future editor will be judging that entry – but by all means, have the manuscript finished and ready to go if it is requested). Don’t be discouraged by the stack of manuscripts under your bed. Consider each one another step closer to the goal. Good writing and good storytelling takes practice. And finally, celebrate milestones, no matter how small they appear (finish a chapter – go out for sushi, get a request – go out for sushi, win a contest – more sushi). Are you sensing the pattern here? I love sushi ;)
Keep trying to improve. Write new stories—don’t get bogged down in revising existing ones. I really found that by the time I started a new manuscript, I’d evolved enough as a writer that the new story was fundamentally at a different level than my previous times. The few times I tried to go back and rework old stories, I discovered that I still instinctively worked within the parameters of that early story (even if I rewrote a new story from scratch with the same characters), which meant that the story still have the same fundamental flaws as the original. Write new, be self-critical, and keep striving to get better. Take online classes, go to conferences and take workshops and never think you’re as good as you’re going to get! And SUBMIT! I had over 130 rejections before I sold and I’d entered 97 contests.
Keep writing, keep submitting, and keep in mind what one bestselling author once told me, "The difference between a published and unpublished author is one person's opinion." You just have to find that one senior editor who loves your stuff and is willing to approve the buy...which won't happen if you don't submit! Meantime, there's a terrific collection of Snoopy "rejection" comic strips that kept me laughing.
Karen L King
You are in charge of your destiny. You can choose failure by quitting. And it really does come down to those who are willing to persevere, those who are willing to really work at improving their craft, those who are producing new stories, and putting the work out there again and again are the people that will be successful. I've seen a lot of really talented authors fall by the wayside, because they're not willing to learn, or not willing to risk rejection, or they keep rewriting or submitting the same thing over and over again. So keep plugging forward.
Keep working! You can only get there if you keep trying. There is an element of luck involved, but you can only be lucky if you are in the right place at the right time, so keep writing and submitting. If you get any feedback from editors, agents, authors, etc, take it to heart and use it to improve your craft, because you get better with each book you write.
Don't give up! Study the market. Don't give up! Educate yourself in the business. And did I mention, don't give up? :-)
Write the book you want to read.
Hang in there. Practice makes perfect.
Keep writing. Don't give up. My first novel was a 50,000 word romance that spanned 35 years. Ten years later that book had been revised into a 95,000 word romantic suspense that takes place over the course of a few months. It became the second book I sold.
Jane Myers Perrine
Keep writing. Keep submitting. You won't sell if you don't.
Renee Andrews spends a lot of time in the gym. No, she isn't working out. Her husband, a former All-American gymnast, co-owns ACE Cheer Company, an all-star cheerleading company. She is thankful the talented kids at the gym don't have a problem when she brings her laptop and writes while they sweat. When she isn't writing, she's typically traveling with her husband, bragging about their two sons or spoiling their bulldog.
Renee is a kidney donor and actively supports organ donation. She welcomes prayer requests and loves to hear from readers! Write to her at Renee@ReneeAndrews.com or visit her Web site at www.reneeandrews.com. Her newest book, Picture Perfect Family, released in February.