I’m sure that isn’t unusual. After all, haven’t you all wondered the same at some point or another? And, wouldn’t you also admit to having listened to many writers tell their story in the hope of finding the answer?
Let’s take J K Rowling. Every writer knows that story; the woman who invented ‘Harry Potter’ on a delayed train from Manchester to London. In 1993 she was a single parent living on benefits. In March 2010 she was listed in Forbes as the 12th richest woman in Britain with a fortune of £560 million ($798 million).
Okay, so I have taken the most extravagant of examples, but was her path an easy one? ‘Hell no!’ (I bet she’d use those exact words if you asked her ).
She was turned down by nearly every major publishing house until finally being accepted by an editor who worked for a then not-so-well-known Bloomsbury.
Or, what about Stephanie Meyer? She apparently had a dream and wrote a book called ‘Twilight’, solely for her own entertainment. On her sister’s insistance, and ignoring every submission guideline known to man, she sent her manuscript to fifteen agents. Bagged one, and sat back to let the publishing auction commence. In 2010, Forbes ranked her as the 59th most powerful celebrity with annual earnings of $40 million. No wonder her husband has quit his job.
For any writer whose just starting out, it seems there are certain rules one must follow. Those rules are:
1) Write a book. This is self-explanatory, and if I have to explain it further then you really should think of a career change.
2) Find an agent. Some argue this. I personally think (if you find the right one) they are worth their weight in gold.
3) Send your agent a query, synopsis, or even a chapter or two.
4) Your super agent will have your book published within months.
5) Count your millions as they roll in.
Okay, so there are a few holes in 5 and 6 but, in essence, these are the rules we, as writers, are told to follow.
So what is the reality?
Honestly? I think it’s a lot to do with luck. Of course you have to be able to write, although I’ve read a few books and asked myself the question ‘how the @%$*?’
But how many of you out there have found an agent via a chance meeting, word of mouth, being in the right place at the right time, or just by holding your breath and taking that brave leap of faith?
The pathway to success is a maze. There are twists and turns and lots of dead ends. We get scratched by overgrown hedges, worn out from all the walking and if we fall we get totally mud splattered. However, if you perceivere and you’re carrying with you a good idea that’s even 75% well written, I really believe you will conquer that maze and exit into publishing madness.
My current story? The novel I’m working on at the moment is an adaptation of a script I wrote with fellow writer Natalie Duggan. We were asked over to LA where I was told ‘get it written as a novel’. Two days later I was at the DFW writers convention pitching it to an agent. I was nervous, unprepared, had no chapters, no synopsis….nothing. But, he liked it and requested I send him the first few chapters once I’d drafted them. Was this down to talent? Maybe a little. After all,the LA trip was based on a pilot we’d written. Was this down to luck? Again, probably. The script had been sent to our lawyer who read it just as our manager telephoned regarding an unrelated matter, and just happened to mention she was looking for new writers. Hell, maybe it was just good old fashioned Fate stepping in.
It certainly helped that this agent had worked with our manager before. It certainly helped that I had the ‘TV pilot’ angle to ‘glitter and dazzle’ the pitch. Hell, it helped that the agent didn’t seem to mind the complete unprofessionalism of pitching a book I hadn’t even started to write!
I was told by author, Linda Regan, that a big part of being accepted by an agent is YOU. If you are interesting, then you are half way there.
Now – This is my favorite part of blogging. I love reading your comments and stories….. So, I want to hear your stories – good, bad or just downright cringeworthy. You tell me the things you have done to try and win the heart of an agent or publisher – no matter how embarrassing – and the success stories involving luck, fate and a sprinkle of bravery.
(Like my Facebook page and join myself and other writers for a natter – to my American friends, that means ‘chat’.)