Blogger: Mary Keeley
Off and on, we allude to the fact that writers need to develop a thick skin if they are going to survive this seemingly fickle, fast-changing world of publishing. Today, let’s count some ways perseverance, persistence, and patience are necessary assets to successfully navigate the publishing world.
When was your first realization that things don’t often happen quickly in publishing? Was it when an editor you met at a conference said you had a unique story or intriguing topic, but you need to keep working on your craft and platform before submitting? Or was it when you received rejections of your first submission to agents: “not ready for representation”?
When you were smacked with the fact that your dream of being published is going to be more a marathon than a sprint, there is only one choice to make if you feel God has called you to write for his glory and hopefully (total disclosure), for some financial provision. That choice is to
When it’s been two months and you are still waiting for an agent to read your proposal and respond to you, it is acceptable for you to send a respectful, professional query about the status of his or her review. Demonstrate your understanding that agents really don’t like to keep writers waiting. They understand your proposal is valuable. Between reading manuscripts, shopping clients’ proposals, contract negotiations, phone calls with editors, attendance at conferences and trade shows, and extensive record-keeping, we look forward to hunting for that gem in our stack of submissions as often as we can.
In the same way, editors want to find a prize in their stack of proposals. Between acquisitions, design, editorial, and production team meetings, they work on multiple projects simultaneously. If you haven’t heard from your editor in a while and don’t know if your changes have been accepted, it is appropriate to contact him or her to learn the status, using a team-based approach.
Situations like these require gentle, professional
We’ve been taught from childhood that patience is a virtue, right? “Don’t open until Christmas.” “When you are more experienced, you can drive the new car.” I firmly believe God has the publishing industry in view when he presses parents to train up their children to acquire this quality.
It’s annoying when the date your proposal is scheduled for presentation to the publication committee keeps moving farther out, and for reasons having nothing to do with the proposal.
It’s maddening when the editor at your publishing house is pulled off your manuscript to work on a rush job for a high-profile author whose new book is assured of getting New York bestseller sales because of the timing. That hurts more than just your ego. The release date of your book may have to be moved, most likely to a lesser advantageous selling season. And your next advance payment will be correspondingly delayed. (Off-subject note: Be sure to inform your agent when a major change like this occurs. She will confront the publisher if the release date moves beyond the publication time frame specified in your contract.)
It’s frustrating when, in the case of one client whose proposal has been on hold for several months awaiting final acceptance, the two editors involved gave conflicting direction to my client about the elements to include in her devotionals. Add to that, the publisher is going through structural changes. These things are bound to cause delays.
Speaking of structural changes, major realignments in the industry, like the Penguin-Random House merger announced this week, will take a while to adjust to. Everyone in the industry—authors, publishers, and agents—need to take a deep breath and have a wait-and-see attitude while we watch for the ramifications to become clear.
In order to present yourself as a true professional, such instances require well-developed
Circumstances like these are part of the nature of publishing. Your agent will help you navigate the hard, cold realities and go to bat for you when appropriate. But it is your responsibility and privilege, as a writer of books for God’s glory, to develop skin thickened with the perseverance, persistence, and patience that is pleasing to him.
Which of the 3 P’s is your greatest challenge? When have you needed to exercise one or more of these qualities in your publishing experience?
In one of my publishing ventures, the editor said, “I’ll get back to you tomorrow with edits.”
Six weeks later, still nothing but crickets. I figured my manuscript was a complete disaster and I should take up anything but writing.
Finally, after another month, I worked up the nerve to contact her and she said, “Oh, I didn’t have any edits so I sent it off to copy editing.”
Which P do I struggle with? All three.
Bill, I would say you exercised extraordinary patience in that situation. Too bad you had to wait ten weeks for that positive news.
For me, all three have posed sizeable challenges over the years, but patience wins – no contest. God has a plan. I have a schedule. We do not always see eye-to-eye, but I defer to His wisdom.
Off topic, and yet oddly related, please keep those of us on the East Coast in your prayers. There is a desperate need for persistence, perseverance and patience in the recovery efforts associated with Hurricane Sandy.
Kathryn, thank you for bringing up the desperate situation on the East Coast. The news reporters have been highlighting tragic consequences those of us out of the area wouldn’t normally think of. Let’s all be praying for perseverance, persistence, patience–and God’s provision for those who lost so much and for the workers and volunteers who are helping with the clean-up.
I love your “P” post, Mary. I pray for these qualities for myself and my husband in his work. 🙂
I think the one I have had to focus on most is patience. God’s timing is perfect (another P), and it is often later than I want the timing to be. I’ve worked on my story for awhile now, re-writing, revising and refining it. It’s not done yet, but it’s getting there. I wanted to be a more skilled writer by this point, but this too, takes time. God’s timing is perfect.
Jeanne, I remind myself of that same truth: God’s timing is perfect. It’s an effective diffuser when impatience wants to take over.
Paranoia. Oops that’s not an option.
I would have to say it is a toss up between Persevere and Patience. Although with age I have become better with both. I am usually very good at Persistence.
Lori, that’s interesting. Do you think your natural ability to be persistent has helped you to persevere and be patient?
Most definitely. It is through being persistent thoughtout my life that I learn to be patient and to persevere. For the most part nothing has really ever come that easy to me unlike some people I know. I had to learn the hard way many times. Some people think I got my job as a tech writer very easily. Many people thought I was a natural writer (I’m not!) It took many years in other positions and learning those lessons before I was able to move very easily into that position and to do it extremely well.
throughout not thoughtout
This post really hit home for me today, Mary. I’m waiting for news from my publisher on when my latest Christmas picture book will be out, but emails to the publisher haven’t received a response: probably because she’s been ill. Time is running out, though, so I’m praying for news while praying I can patiently wait for it. 🙂
Ooh, Cheryl, it might be time for a gentle phone call. Occasionally, things do fall through the cracks when a pivotal person is on a short absence. The publisher is just as anxious for your book to release in time for Christmas buying as you are. They might be grateful for your call.
Thanks for the advice, Mary. I appreciate it.
Thank you for this encouragement. I want to run ahead and rush God sometimes, it’s so important to remember he is in control, not me 🙂
My hardest “p” is perseverance. I’m so scared of messing up or taking a wrong step, I sometimes don’t even gather the courage to try. I am learning to let go of my work with courage.
Lisa, you aren’t alone. As you familiarize yourself with publishers’ and agents’ websites and the industry in general, your confidence to persevere should increase. It’s important to know the business side of publishing as well as the writing side.
Heather Day Gilbert
Perseverance and persistence are not longer issues for me–I’ve been at this for almost five years, and I’m fully committed to writing until I get published. I might have to write ten books first, but I’m not going to stop. I’ve put my eggs in this basket, because this is the one talent/gift I feel God has given me. I could not go to my grave knowing I haven’t spent it all for Him.
But PATIENCE…I’m sure my agent would attest that I’m not the most patient person. Every time I get a refusal, I come right back with a new idea. Letting your query/proposal/MS go and waiting for feedback is undoubtedly one of the most faith-threatening things I’ve had to go through. Thanks to my husband, great writer friends and a patient agent, I’m getting through this. It’s hard when you don’t see God moving. I know in my HEAD that He is, but sometimes, even getting flat-out refused is better than waiting endlessly!
Patience is NOT my best virtue! Grin.
Good post, Mary.
I’m with you Heather! You get to a place where persevering and persisting are simply what you DO. But patience? I think I prayed for it once and now God’s trying to teach me . . .
Heather Day Gilbert
Ha–Sarah, I knew better than to pray for it, but I think I have to learn it anyway!
I can see how it’s hard to have patience when you are strong in perseverance and persistence, Heather. Kind of like a race horse waiting for the starting gate to open. Thankfully, God surrounded you with good support while you wait.
Mary, I’m with Lori. The “persistence” P is the easiest for me. The other two are harder. Waiting is hard.
I think “persistence” is easier because since an early age I have been a very determined and focused individual. Sometimes I do struggle with motivation, but overall I am goal-oriented and work hard to achieve them.
I pray without ceasing for God’s direction and not follow my own. I know He has put this determination in me for a reason. I just need to acquire more of the other Ps. Still working on that. 🙂
Morgan, I’m with you and Lori. I think persistence comes naturally to some people, but perseverance and patience have to be learned.
Definitely patience!!! Right now I’m waiting on a book launch date so I can market a future release, and two other series’ are with publishers waiting on a yes or no.
I’m a pusher and quite self-motivated, and though that is great for social media marketing and such, it makes it super hard in the publishing industry, where they don’t seem to enjoy letting you in on the process until they have a final result.
If I’m having surgery, I have no problem with being put out till it’s all over, but if I’m awake during a procedure, I really like to know what’s going on each step of the way! =)
Maybe I’ll find a way to emotionally “put myself out” till I hear more news!
Kimberly, I felt your perseverance and persistence in your words. It is acceptable to persist in sending a respectful email about once a month to ask for the statue of your book.
Persistence is definitely the hardest for me. I have a hard time separating that necessary quality from the more negative trait of being pushy. I dread being pushy!
And it’s not that I’m shy or uncomfortable with the concept of self-promotion, I’m just always waiting for the right moment.
I’m thankful when agents or editors share their preferences for contact, like you did in this post. It gives someone like me the level of comfort needed to make that phone call or send that email.
Evangeline, I’m glad the information helped to defuse your struggle with persistence.
Patience, patience, patience…need I say more? I’m the model my teenage boys are watching while I wait. 🙂
Yes, being a good example for our sons and daughters is powerful motivation to exercise patience, Becky.
Thank you for your recent posts, Mary. They are helping me in many ways!
You’re welcome, Angela. I’m glad they are helpful.
Meadow Rue Merrill
Such great timing to read this. Thank you, Mary. All three are hard for me. I never imagined my writing journey would be so long, but I’m adding another ‘p’ to your list: prayer! It’s what keeps me going in light of the numerous obstacles encountered with the other three.
Meadow, thank you for adding the fourth P. You are so right. Prayer is a vital.
Thank you. This post is timely and important to so many, I know. I think, just as your post indicates, that there’s a season of each of the Ps and it’s all about handling each one with grace and class.
Appreciate your grace and class today,
I realized that things moved slow when I received a call from an editor at a publisher over a year after I submitted a manuscript. I knew her and knew she was a great person who had a ton on her plate but I had no idea it would take that long. I’d given up. She had great advice and some kind words to say before passing on the manuscript.
In my experience they get back to agents a little quicker; one more reason I’m glad I have representation.
Carole Lehr Johnson
I have to admit that the three P’s are tough. Each individual has their own ‘P’ that they are challenged by. I believe patience has to come from God…well, maybe all three have to come from God! Yet, we each struggle with different things. Mine is patience. The other two come a little easier for me. Although, I will occasionally give up on a project if things don’t go as quickly as I would like. I have a scarf I have been crocheting for two years and haven’t picked it up in about six months!