Tuesday, November 27, 2007

From Contest to Publication

Have you been winning contests and have yet to land that contract you've been working toward? There are many factors involved in this crazy business that have nothing to do with your skill as a writer. I have heard editors discuss this at conferences. They may see a proposal they really like but want to be sure this new author is not a one book wonder. They will actually wait to see if other proposals arrive and if they are of the same quality. When they see you have the skill and drive to write as a career, they make that call.

Reading is very subjective. Have you ever had a friend call and say "You've got to read this book" and when you read it you wonder what were they thinking? It isn't that the book isn't a good book. You have different tastes than your friend. Editors are the same. They have different tastes, so as an aspiring author, you need to get your work out there to as many different editors as you can in hopes you will find the one who loves your style of writing. Contests are a great tool for that. Look for contests that have different editors.

The last reason I want to discuss is God's timing is not always ours. Hind sight is amazing and I for one, can see that He had my interests at heart by waiting for "that call". Sometimes we need to be ready emotionally. Sometimes, as in my case, He needs us somewhere else. But I do know that if you are His child, He will not waste one precious moment of your time. Be persistent. Continue to hone your craft. Make those contacts with editors through contests and conferences. And most importantly, believe in yourself.

Happy writing, Sandra


Mary Connealy said...

The right book, in front of the right editor, at the right time. God's time.
That's why we keep trying. Yes, we try to keep polishing and improving our work, but submitting, too. And persistance pays off more surely than any other single talent.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Yes Mary, persistence is a key factor. As in most careers, writers do not have any boss watching to see if they are doing their work. Nor do they have to report to anyone if they met the day's goals or deadlines. It is a self-directed pursuit. Therefore persistence, dedication and drive are a must.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

So true...and encouraging.

I hate the thought of how many extraordinarily talented people are tempted to give up too soon. Or those whose talent would have grown had they kept it up.

I hope your post inspires 'em to keep at it...keep at it...keep at it until it happens.


Cheryl Wyatt

Pam Hillman said...

Interesting perspective, Sandra. I had never really thought of it that way. Makes all the more sense to keep on entering contests and submitting to editors. The squeaky wheel and all....lol

Julie Lessman said...

Sandra said: Reading is very subjective.

Oh my, crank the amps up on that one, Sandra, because you are soooo right!! This has been a hard lesson for me to learn. I KNOW it in my head, but every time I'd get a judge that trashed me because of multiple POVs (a trademark of mine)or too much depth in the subordinate characters (another failing, apparently), my confidence would sink lower than the lowest score. I would have to repeat to myself over and over something to the effect of "READING IS SUBJECTIVE."

I finally got to the point where I actually started praying for judges that were my market, and lo and behold, I finaled in the GH! Coincidence? I think not. Tip of the day: The Bible says to be specific in our prayers, so pray for a judge or editor or agent who is your market, because not everybody reads or likes the same thing.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Julie, Great idea for the specific prayers. Yes, why not ask for the judges, editor and/or agent that will love our work?

Pam the squeaky wheel is Biblical. Remember the persistent woman?

Hugs, Sandra

Myra Johnson said...

Great post, Sandra! I like your comment about keeping those proposals in the mail as a way to show you're not a "one book wonder."

On the other hand, trying to get your work in front of many different editors in search of the one who will "get" your writing can be difficult if all you're entering is RWA-sponsored inspirational contests. It's frustrating to see the limited number of publishing houses represented by the usual finals judges.

That's one reason I like the ACFW Genesis. The judges as well as the categories cover a much broader spectrum.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Cheryl, You are so right. There are extraordinary writers out there. I have a writer friend who kept at it for ten years. She is now on the best seller list. So when she finally published, it was the right editor and the right time. smile
Hugs, Sandra

Sandra Leesmith said...

Great advice Myra, The Genesis is a wonderful place to get exposure. I think more groups are trying to find different editors. I wrote some of the contest coordinators I know of and told them I wasn't going to enter until they did get different judges. Whether that had any impact--who knows. It isn't always up to the coordinators. It is difficult to find editors who will donate their precious time. That is why I write thank you letters to anyone who has judged my work. (yes, even if it wasn't a great score)

Melanie Dickerson said...

If you want some major encouragement, read Just Jane, by Nancy Moser. Jane Austen was rejected. She wrote and wondered if she would ever be published. She had the exact same problems I had. She had trouble getting anyone to read her work. When a publisher finally accepted one of her books for publication, she waited SIX years and finally wrote him a letter asking him what he intended to do with it. He wrote her back saying he never said he would publish it, that if she let anyone else publish it he would sue her, and that she could buy it back from him for the advance he had given her. In the end, her brother had to pay for her first book to be published. I just couldn't believe Jane Austen had gone through all that. It was so encouraging to me. And that is a great book, so go read it!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Thanks Melanie, I had never heard that story and it is encouraging to hear of the road to success. It is different for everyone, yet has so many elements we can relate to.

Missy Tippens said...

Amen on God's timing! I had to learn that the hard way (with lots of impatience!).