Publishing: Luck vs. Persistence?—my road to getting published

I believe publishing is a combination of three things—luck, persistence, and timing.

Every writer knows that the publishing business is filled with rejection. We all need to develop a thick skin and keep going, no matter how much the rejection hurts. This is where the persistence comes in.

Every writer knows that trends come and go. What was selling like crazy five years ago won’t sell now. What is selling now won’t sell in five years. This is where the timing comes in.

Every writer knows that this business is subjective. One day, the rejection says, “Your characters are flat.” The next rejection says, “Your characters are great but the pacing is too slow.” Then you hear, “The pacing is too fast.” But, happily, one day, you send your manuscript to the editor or agent who finds everything to be in the right place at the right time, and you get an offer. This is where the luck comes in.

I entered my query letter in a query contest on the blog belonging to Kate Kaynak, the editor at Spencer Hill Press, in October 2011. She read the query and suggested I query Spencer Hill when they opened to queries in December 2011. I sent in my query and got a request for the full manuscript, then an offer of publication the following February! I believe all three things came into play here—luck, for entering the contest out of the blue, persistence, for continuing to enter contests and submit queries after previous rejections, and timing, for writing about a unique topic that caught the interest of an editor.

So what do you think?

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About Kimmy :)

Kimberly Miller received Bachelor's degrees from Georgian Court University and Rutgers University and a Master's degree from The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She is an avid reader and particularly enjoys true crime and young adult novels. She grew up in New Jersey and currently resides in Monmouth County with her husband and three cats. When she’s not writing, she loves to travel to sunny islands where she snorkels by day and stargazes by night. She always takes her Nook with her.

12 thoughts on “Publishing: Luck vs. Persistence?—my road to getting published

  1. Absolutely true about timing. RE: editors–when I was querying, I never completely believed the rejection that said, “Great book for someone but not for me.” Now that I’ve been through the process, I know that a book has to truly SPEAK to an editor if she/he is going to devote so much heart and effort and time to it. The acquisition process has to be subjective–even ideosyncratic–or the book just won’t work.

  2. So true, Kimmy–and I offer this evidence. When I was querying for an agent 2.5 years ago, I got a form rejection from a particular well-regarded agent. Somehow, I’d forgotten I’d queried this agent and sent the same query again a few weeks apart. Three days later, I got a request to read off the in inadvertent resend of the SAME QUERY the agent had already rejected. How is that for evidence you need to catch someone at the right time? When I finally I noticed this strange situation, I was about to sign with my current agent—so I did nothing. I’m glad it worked out as it did!

  3. Once you have the skill and the talent, I totally agree on these next three components. If you keep putting your work out there though, you’re bound to get those stars in alignment sooner or later :-).

  4. I SO AGREE with timing. My first novel was in a really rough state when I got my agent and he sold it. My editor said that had it been a couple of years later, she couldn’t have acquired it because she was too busy. But she saw potential and, at the time, believed we could create something great. TIMING IS A HUGE PART OF THIS!! Great post. 😉

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