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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

GET 'EM!!!

I was asked a question not too long ago, about how I stayed motivated to write books before I had an agent or a publisher. The quick answer is, it wasn't easy. Even though I worked hard to lock those dark thoughts in the recesses of my mind, I'll take one for the team and give you a quick peek.

Writing a book is not easy and there is never any guarantee that anyone will want your stuff. Writers who have done the research know that publishers and agents only accept about one or two percent of the stuff that gets submitted to them. One or two percent is not very good odds – I mean, if you had a one or two percent chance of surviving an operation, you might hesitate before slipping into one of those hospital gowns (okay, we all hesitate before slipping into those things anyway, but you know what I mean).   

Here’s the thing, writers already have an overactive imagination, so while we’re hunched over our computers hammering away at those words, we’re all thinking the same thing: “Oh man, if an agent or a publisher doesn’t want this book I just blew hundreds (or thousands) of hours. I’ll be pegged as a dreamer, a slacker, a timewaster, a good for nothing dilettante. People will point and laugh while I walk down the street; maybe they’ll throw rotten tomatoes and sic their Chihuahuas on me. Children might just scream and run away when I walk by.” And in the end, we know that there is a very real possibly we’ll be forced into the woods by a mob of torch wielding villagers where we’ll live out the rest of our life in a cave eating nothing but moss (I did say we have an overactive imagination, didn’t I?).

On the other hand, if your book lands you a publisher or an agent it will all be worth it. Now you're a visionary. You’ll be hoisted on shoulders, carried around town and given free meals wherever you go. They’ll have parades, statues will be erected in your honor, and people you’ve never met will say “I always knew you could do it.” Life will be as sweet as a cupcake made out of Keebler Elvels (Keebler Elves are very tasty!).

Okay, maybe only terribly insecure writers like me have thoughts like that. 

On a serious note, writing books, and not selling them (or not finding an agent with them), is not a waste of time. Sometimes it takes a few manuscripts to find your voice. Sometimes you have to write some real bad books before you can see what you're doing wrong. Sometimes you write something great, and maybe the timing is off. If you're passionate about it, just keep writing.


Ben Sloan said...

Great, encouraging post. I'm about 50k words into my third novel, and I feel so good about it I could wrassle a bear. If it's published, I'll use my newly granted god-powers to do just that. Anyway, congrats on your upcoming book--the cover looks badass!

Steven Whibley said...

Thanks Ben, I appreciate it. Word of advice: don't wrassle the bear until you finish the manuscript. Bear's fight dirty and have surprisingly hard faces. You punch one and you're likely to damage your hand ;)

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