When it comes to publishing, I think it takes both luck AND perseverance to succeed. But if I had to choose which was more important, I’d go with perseverance hands down. Why? Because what if your lucky break is just around the corner but you give up too soon? What if a new agent who would really love your manuscript is getting their website all polished up with a brand new submissions list ready to go live on Monday morning and you quit Sunday night?
All the luck in the world won’t do you any good if you give up before you get some 🙂
When it comes to perseverance, I come down on the “stubborn as a mule” side of the coin. If there is something I want, and I mean REALLY REALLY want (like a published book for instance 😉 ) nothing is going to stop me from going after it.
Take To Trust a Thief for example. I queried various versions of that book for years. For five years, to be exact. That poor book was rejected more times than even I (a notorious over-sharer) want to admit. And frankly, the first several versions should have been rejected. The basic bones of a good book were there but they needed major polishing. Each version got closer and closer but I queried it much sooner than I should have. Though even once I had a really good book, it was still rejected, mostly for things like “the market”, or a too similar book already on the list, etc.
But I just pulled up my stubborn little bootstraps and kept at it. I wrote other books, but I never stopped looking for opportunities to get my beloved first book out in the world. My former agent (who’d signed me for my non-fiction book that came out in 2011) decided that she wanted to stay focused on non-fiction while I wanted to change directions and focus on fiction, so we parted ways and I queried again. Got a few good nibbles as I always did. But nothing solid. Since I’d queried it so many times in the past, I felt I couldn’t query it again, even though it was now a completely different book from where it had started.
But there were a few new publishers who’d sprung up. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give them a shot real quick, along with a few more established pubs who accepted non-agented materials. And finally, my luck hit. With a speed that left me dizzy. Within weeks, I had a handful of full requests and two offers of publication (with a third publisher who was very interested but wanted a little more time). Those who didn’t know how long I’d been trying to find this book a home thought I was extremely lucky. And I was. But without my perseverance, I never would have had the opportunity to BE lucky.
When it came to choosing who to go with, I do think a little luck was at play. I didn’t know much about the two publishers who had offered. I researched as much as I could, heard good things from both. Spoke with the editors.
And finally went with my gut. It was the best thing I ever did. I now have five books published or under contract with Entangled with several more projects underway. It’s been amazing and I look forward to a long, happy career with them.
Yes, I’ve written other books along the way and I’m sure one of them would have made it (especially since one of the manuscripts I pulled out of a drawer is releasing in two weeks 🙂 ) But it was the little book that I refused to give up on that gave me my “lucky” break. The book that almost everyone told me to let go. The book that I was too dang stubborn to put away 🙂
So yes, luck helps. That right combination of the right manuscript finding the right person at the exact right time. But if you give up along the way, luck won’t do you an ounce of good.