Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Secret of Success

It's not really a secret. You measure your success by how you feel about your accomplishments. Different people are successful at different things. Some want fame and fortune, some want better for their children and some just want to publish a book.

Getting rejected can make you feel like a failure. Writers send dozens of queries and get as many "No"s in return. You have to remember, if you are querying, you wrote a book! That is a success! And it only takes one yes (optimistically) to continue the process.

So how do we overcome the rejections? How do we get to that all important "Yes" for success?!
  • Research. As you might have found out, agents are too swamped to give much feedback. It's a fact you have to accept and deal with. So research, find out more about the agents you're querying, join writing sites, go to conferences and get opinions from folks who can give you worthwhile advice.
  • Don't take it personally. They don't know you! The reasons they didn't choose you are most likely because they A) don't do that genre, or have too many similar; B) think you might be too green and they'd have to edit too much; or C) just didn't click with the story/characters. You can't please everyone! And agents/publishers have raised the bar for taking on a project to print - the market is changing and we have to go with the flow...
  • Make improvements. Everyone has room to improve. You won't please everyone so don't try to. Do listen to advice and comments and use them as you see fit. It is your work after all.
  • Don't give up! If you've done all of the above and still get discouraged from too many "not at this time"s, that doesn't mean you should give up. But! You might want to put it on the back burner and work on something else. Enter a contest, accept a challenge or just take a break! When you come back to it again, you'll be surprised by the amount of improvements you can make.
Another way to get that feeling of success is to set reasonable goals. I've written two books. After finishing the first and sending out many queries, I researched why no one was biting. The public and therefore the publishing industry was over chick lit. I decided to leave it for a while, intending to take a different approach later. I love sci-fi and had a good idea for a story so I changed gears. I just finished writing "Pop Travel." Success!

My next goal is to beef it up and edit it. Then I'll write a query letter and start that process again - but I'm wiser now and think I can write a good one. I am also taking critiques, watching the market and trying to build up my "image." Every little bit helps!

Even published writers have to keep working hard to get the next one out. There aren't any guarantees.

Watch American Idol? Notice how many contestants they start out with? Tens of thousands! Just making it to Hollywood is quite an accomplishement! If they don't get any further, some can take that and choose to improve. Others will give up and scorn the judges. Who would you rather be?


Kasi Blake said...

The layout of your blog is one of my favorites. The cartoon girl is so cute. As for rejections, I could wallpaper my entire house. I prefer to get rejections that are helpful, something that gives you a point to work on. The old "I enjoyed your book, but I'm not passionate about it" reminds me of the "It's not you, it's me" speech.

Tara Tyler said...

Yes, the Bachelor's "you'll be a great wife, for someone else" shpiel. Rejection stings and usually only heals with time, or a new boyfriend?

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