The other day I was recounting to a friend some writing advice that I was given years ago. I know the advice has been helpful to me (I have to remind myself of it every now and then) and it also seemed to be helpful to my friend. So it occurred to me that maybe it would be helpful to others as well. I guess it’s more like advice wrapped up in a story, so here’s the story:
The father of one of my friends is a published author. Years ago, he offered to take a look at something I’d written and offered me some feedback and encouragement. He also told me a story about his own journey to publication. When he was trying to get his first book published (military fiction, I believe), he submitted to a publishing company which seemed quite interested in his book. The publisher asked him to make major changes to the manuscript and he did. Understandably, he was really excited about the publisher’s apparent interest and hoped that he was on the way to seeing his book in print. However, after he’d made all the requested changes to the manuscript, the publisher told him that the scenario in his novel was completely unrealistic and they weren’t going to publish it.
I’m sure any writer can imagine the disappointment that followed. Someone seems really interested in your work, you do everything they ask of you, and yet it doesn’t work out. Your dream of getting published doesn’t come true.
However, that’s not the end of the story. Not even close.
A little while down the road, somebody at another publishing company read his book. An intern, I think it was. She loved his book so much that she read the whole thing over one weekend and went back to work on Monday and said “We have to publish this book!” Not only that, the scenario that the first publisher said was completely unrealistic and could never happen in real life? A few months later, it did happen in real life. And the book went on to sell over 500,000 copies around the world. Now my friend’s dad is a successful author and has had several books published over the years.
The point of the story? As he said to me, “DON’T GIVE UP!!!”
The path to publication is not only paved with plenty of rejection, but sometimes falsely raised hopes as well. A publisher or agent might express interest in your work, might work with you for a time to make revisions, but sometimes things don’t work out. Maybe the publisher doesn’t give you a book deal in the end. Maybe the agent doesn’t sign you as a client. Maybe the agent does sign you but is unable to sell your book. These things happen. Be aware of that. It’s no fun when it happens, but just because something like that does happen, it doesn’t mean that your dreams won’t come true.
When everything lines up just right, when the match between author and publisher/agent is right, things will work out. Maybe not now, maybe not when you thought, but eventually. As long as you DON’T GIVE UP.