Blogger: Mary Keeley
A while ago I blogged about extending grace and kindness to other writers when you’re at a writers conference here. Today I want to extend the conversation to the many opportunities to exercise patience and grace at each stage of the publishing process.
Patience with yourself. Remember when you began to write your first book? And the excitement of finishing what you thought was a polished manuscript, only to receive discouraging feedback pointing to serious craft flaws? Be grateful for every honest critique. They are your steppingstones to publication. You can’t expect to learn all there is to know about craft overnight or in a year or ten. Any mega-published author will confirm that craft is a life-long learning process, and the percentage of writers whose first book is published by a traditional publisher is very low. Nonfiction writers need patience for as long as it takes to grow a competitive platform. When I talk to new writers, I try to encourage them to enjoy the journey and resist the urge to set a self-imposed deadline. That fosters patience, and it’s the most direct path of endurance to reach your publishing goal.
Patience with rejections. If an editor doesn’t provide feedback with a rejection, I always ask for it. That way the rejection can be filtered as constructive criticism my clients can use to improve their work. Rejections are particularly frustrating when the editor comments that they contracted a similar book and therefore must pass on yours. There is nothing wrong with your book; it’s only a matter of timing. Patience relieves frustration and discouragement in these situations. I received a rejection on a client’s proposal because the acquisitions editor determined the book was too niche. True, it did have a primary niche audience, but the niche involved thousands of people across the country, a secondary audience, and my client had a national speaking platform. We need to muster patience to ward off discouragement when publisher perceptions are wrong.
Patience with genre trends. Amish fiction had a long turn at top billing for genre popularity. But as with anything else, trends reach their peak and begin to decline as readers look for something new and different. Publishers bought up contracts for historical romance series until their slots are filled through next year. Editors I’ve talked to recently are avidly looking for suspense now. Others are looking for unique, life-changing memoir and narrative nonfiction. It’s a cyclical demand. Don’t attempt to write for the current popular genre if it isn’t the right fit for you and the audience you’ve been accumulating. By the time you get your book written, the trend will have changed again, and you will have confused your followers. Patiently wait for your genre to open up again. In the meantime you have time to perfect your book and increase your following.
Patience with industry change. If you keep up with industry news, you’ve heard about more publisher purchases lately. These changes send a rip tide throughout the industry. Publishing was stable for years, which makes the state of flux during the last six years unsettling for writers and professionals, including agents. We aren’t immune to frustration. Reassessing our strategy for our clients’ projects and careers is a frequent topic of discussion in our Books & Such staff meetings.
I speak to myself first when I urge that patience is needed as we accept the fact that change is here stay for the foreseeable future. Writers, agents, editors, publishing executives, and marketing, PR, and sales professionals in CBA—we all do what we do to honor God. Reminding myself that he wants his message to reach readers and that he is in control encourages patience until the industry settles into a new stability. There is much to look forward to as new opportunities surface. It just takes a little grace-filled patience.
What situations did I miss that require patience in the writing life? Have you encountered some of those I mentioned? How do you see patience would improve resilience in your writing journey?
Patience is the operative word for everyone in publishing. Click to Tweet.
Patience is the channel that weathers the ups and downs in the publishing industry. Click to Tweet.