Benjamin Franklin said, “He that can have patience can have what he will.” He also said, “Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes.” How very true for the writer.
I started writing “Mary Bishop” in February 2015. Now that I’m in my final round of revisions, nearly a year and a half later, I can appreciate Mr. Franklin’s words of wisdom. Without patience I never would have gotten this far, but the game isn’t over yet. After this I start the next round of patient waiting, potentially longer than the initial creative stage. It’s called marketing.
Time to do some research into which publishing house or literary agency I think will be most receptive to my book. I’ll need to write a compelling cover letter and synopsis to convince that editor or agent that I’m the one they’ve been looking for, the one they’ll want to read/talk to over and above all the other inquiries they receive. It’s a daunting task.
For one thing, it can be more about timing than talent. Yes, it’s important to have the latter, but I could be the next great American romance writer to shoot straight to the top of the best seller list and it doesn’t matter if I’m one step behind someone else with a similar manuscript. Or if I catch that person on a bad day, mad at the world or maybe just not feeling well. Or my book could be wonderful but I’m just not selling it because of a hastily and poorly written synopsis.
I could also sabotage myself by not doing my research. There’s nothing worse than sending your inquiry to the previous editor because you didn’t bother to find out that person has moved on and there’s someone new in the chair. Or perhaps that publisher has changed direction; they no longer want romance but are now only reading science fiction or steam punk. Maybe the agent likes to read X number of chapters or pages with the synopsis, but I only sent the synopsis, or vice versa, because I failed to closely read the submission guidelines. They might be very particular in their formatting rules, as well, including the type of file and whether or not it’s an attachment or part of the body of my email. There are so many things to know about an editor or agent before I submit, so much research to do in advance.
And after all that, I wait…and wait, and wait…perhaps weeks, perhaps months. Hopefully they’ll be interested in seeing more. Maybe they’ll be so impressed, so excited by their new find, that they’ll send edits and a contract. Maybe they’ll say thank you for considering us but we are not interested in your manuscript at this time. Then I start all over.
If writers weren’t patient by nature we’d be a world without so many entertaining and inspiring books. J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected by twelve agents before being accepted. Stephen King’s “Carrie” was rejected thirty times! In our current politically correct culture I dare say “The Bible” would be rejected as being potentially offensive. Guinness World Records puts The Bible at the world’s best-selling and most widely distributed book with recent estimates of more than 5 billion copies printed annually.
Patience. If a writer believes in their work they must be patient. And what do they do with their time while being patient? Why, work on the next book, of course. You never know, that editor/agent might love “Mary Bishop” so much they ask what I’m working on next. I want to be ready with an answer.