Friday, July 18, 2014

It's About Being In The Right Place At The Right Time

The business of publishing, and certainly the success authors have in publishing really comes down to timing. We have the timing of the book release to hit the summer reading rush. The timing of great "mother" books around Mother's Day. We have the issue of timing to get a book out just when the public is interested in a particular topic. I think you get the idea. Last night at the PNWA Conference,, as I was listening to the key note speaker James Rollins, I had the chance to hear, once again, how one author made it through being in the right place at the right time.

I do need to preface, before going any further, that success is not just about the timing. If the writing is not good, it doesn't matter how good your timing is. You will not succeed!

In any case, James Rollins is a great speaker and really fun to listen to. He told us how he really got his big
first sale and yes, this is really a series of links to get him to the place he is today. Just follow this...

1) He was attending the Maui Writer's Conference.
2) He already had an agent pushing his Thriller but he really wanted to write this great Fantasy story he was working on.
3) He had entered a contest at the conference and apparently made it to the final round.
4) One of the judges happened to be Terry Brooks.
5) James decided at a reception to go over and meet Terry Brooks as a fan (not knowing Terry had been a reader).
6) Terry Brooks proceeds to tell James he loved the story. He liked it so much he passed it on to his editor.
7) The editor HAPPENED to be at the conference too.
8) Terry introduced him to the editor.
9) ... and an offer was made.

In several earlier blog posts I also talked about being in the right place at the right time. Steve Berry happened to be released paired up with Dan Brown (now that is nice). My author, Jean Love Cush happened to get hooked up with her current editor only after the editor moved to a different publisher that ENDANGERED happened to fit at. I have also talked about a previous Greyhaus author that happened to get her first deal after Sue Grimshaw, then the Border's Book Buyer, happened to read her unpublished manuscript after asking about it at a conference. She then passed it on to Maggie Crawford at Pocket and the rest is history.

I think you get the idea here. It is about being at the right place at the right time and this is something James Rollins ended the talk with. He discussed what it was about attending conferences. This is a chance to get you as a writer into situations that might be that lucky break for you.

But I do think we need to also remember that your success is not going to come just from that. We are talking about that chapter in those math books on Possibility vs. Probability. You cannot hope to succeed just from talking to the right person. Success in this business does take time. It does take skill. It does take those long hours working on your manuscript to get it just right!

And yes, if a little luck comes along our way, then let's take it and celebrate it!


  1. My big break was like that too--and of course the point is, it wouldn't have been a big break if I hadn't had something worthwhile to start with. I had an agent already who was pushing my work, I went to a conference with my agent, who just happened to already be in contact with an editor I wanted to work with, and I had already gotten a pitch session with that editor at that conference. By the time I went to the pitch session, my agent had already paved the way with phone conversations with the editor ahead of time, already introduced me briefly after a spotlight, and after I pitched I was offered a three book deal on the spot. The condensed version sounds like a fairy tale: I went to a conference and got a three book deal. The reality though was that there were many pieces working in concert that made this happen--1) I had good work that was ready to published. 2) I had an agent working for me who knew exactly where this work needed to go and with whom. 3) I understood that pitching is about the story, but its also about the person. Are you a career writer? Do you understand the market, the genre, and your own abilities to produce quality time after time? That's someone an editor wants to invest in. 4) the editor and my agent and myself were all at the same conference together--the conference just provided the crucible for all these elements to be in the same place at an opportune time when all else was in alignment.

  2. By the way, notice how many times I used the word 'already' in the previous post.