Monday, January 07, 2008

Published = Writing talent + Perseverance + Attitude

In every job a person enters there are basic things that make a difference in their success.

One is being able to do the job; whether it is the ability to be a quick study or the fact you are willing to always be open to learning more. Another is working toward being the best you can be in that occupation if it’s flipping burgers or running a large company most people wish to improve their lot.

Two is being conscious of those around you. Making them feel comfortable in your presence and being thoughtful to their interests and listening.

In the publishing industry it isn’t very different. To get published in this day and age of easy access to writers at conferences, book signings, MySpace, blogs, and websites a writer needs to have three things going for them.

1) The ability to write stories that capture the readers attention and in the case of romance, their hearts.
2) The perseverance to keep at it and perfect their writing no matter how many rejection letters they receive.
3) A personality that is willing to work with editors and agents and draw readers in.

I remember attending RWA Nationals a few years ago and throughout the conference I found myself near a Golden Heart Finalist. But it wasn’t her first time as a finalist and she let everyone know that and the fact she had yet to sell. And lo and behold- she won again. In her acceptance speech she showed off all her Golden Hearts and went on to complain and whine about how none of these had done her any good. You could feel the crowd getting nervous and feeling embarrassed for her. You can bet if that is the way she’s reacted to each Golden Heart since the first one, the editors have all put her name on a list of writers they don’t want to work with.

I know of one publishing house that has a place where the editors make notes about writers. Any editor in that house can look at it and see the comments made. If a writer was a diva and hard to work with it is noted. I’m sure all the larger publishing houses have the same thing.

As in any job there are a whole lot of factors that can move you up in your job, but the main things you need to move up in the publishing world are writing talent, perseverance, and attitude.

Do you think this is true? Or are there other things that you think make the difference in getting published other than being at the right place at the right time, which has worked for many writers.


Alice Sharpe said...

I think what you say is true. I didn't know about the Diva list, that's an eye opener. I also believe being in the right place at the right time offers a chance but without the rest of the package, that chance will seldom if ever come around again.

In my own career, I have seldom (maybe never) said "No," to an editor. I don't miss deadlines, I try to be polite and easy to work with. That just seems professional to me and is exactly what I expect from an editor in return.

I've seen writers go over their editor's heads to a senior editor (bad form, and an offense that might get you blacklisted for awhile.) I met a writer a year or so ago who got her first contract and advance and then proceeded to move cross country and get very involved with life and miss her deadline, etc. She was having a terrible time getting read by this publisher now, let alone selling to them. She recognized her mistakes, she just hadn't taken the dates and such seriously. Her attitude still confounds me.

So, I think you're right, Paty, and as one of the only if not the only writer I know who is also an acquiring editor, I would say you know whereof you speak. If you look at your equation: published = writing talent + perseverance + attitude, I don't think there's any one facet that could be taken away.

Interesting topic!

Lisa Pulliam said...

I agree with you, Paty. Timing does play a large role, but without the other characteristics you mentioned - timing won't matter. It sure would be nice if there was an exact formula to getting published, but what you've said is as close as we'll get I think. Great post!

Paty Jager said...

Thanks Alice and Lisa.

Being on several sides of the fence in the writing/publishing industry I have had some interesting eye openers.

Paty Jager said...

Just checking the follow-up comments!

Karen Duvall said...

So true, Paty. I was just thinking today that I finally understood the secret to getting published. The one ingredient that stands out the most for me is: Patience!

Which is very similar to perseverance, but as far as patience goes, I see too many writers jumping the gun in their eagerness to be published. They either submit work that's not polished, submit to agents and/or editors by firing off as many queries as possible and hope to get a hit, or accepting the first contract that comes along no matter how much it sucks. If you care enough about your work, you shouldn't have to settle.

I'm sure you're right about the GH Diva who may be blacklisted by every romance publisher in the business. It never does any good to (cliché alert) cut off your nose to spite your face.

Danita Cahill said...

I think you also hit the nail on the head, Paty.

I was just reading an article yesterday about the dreaded revision letter. It seems all authors get one from their editor, and some even from their agents, no matter their experience. It's what a writer does with it that matters. Basically it all boils down to: Just do it. Maybe take a day to breathe a sigh, feel a bit sorry for yourself, then cowgirl up and get to work, no matter how much work the revisions take.

I guess willingness to revise falls under the attitude column.