Monday, October 20, 2014

Persistence Means You Should Be Learning

One of the things I enjoy about this business is getting to see the growth of writers who are really working hard on improving their craft. They will submit a project to me that isn't quite right so I pass
on it. Several months later, I see a new project and hopefully we are seeing some improvement in the work they did. I have been able to sign these authors on their second or third project from the growth they were able to demonstrate.

This is persistence.

Unfortunately, I do believe that many authors believe that persistence is to just keep sending things out to those editors or agents in the hopes that something will stick. For some, they even send out the same project to the same person hoping that maybe, at this particular time, the project is right, even though it wasn't working in the prior submission. There were no improvements to the project. They just sent the same dang thing out again.

The word persistence doesn't mean just doing something over and over again. We need to learn from our mistakes. We need to make changes in what we do so we don't end up with the same results time and time again. This is what we want to see as agents and editors. We want writers who can submit a project and, if it isn't good, find a way to make it better. We want writers who can learn and grow with every project they do.

If all you are doing is sending out your projects time and time again to editors and agents without stopping to assess why that prior person passed on the story, you are making a huge mistake. With every rejection letter, it is a time to re-assess what you are doing to find out what works and what doesn't work.

Now I do know that you might not be fortunate enough to get a rejection letter with a full line edit from that editor or agent, but, if you do get any nugget of information back from that person, it is time to go back and revisit that story. Is this something that is just subjective and might change from one editor/agent to the next, or is it something that really will come back and haunt you? If it is, then it is certainly time to make a change.

I would also add that if you are having several people tell you the same thing (your CP's, contest comments, editors and agents) then I am sorry to say this, but it isn't a subjective thing and your story needs to be fixed. I am always shocked when I pass on a story and get a letter back from the author telling me that "several people have said the same thing already so I guess I better go fix it." Ya think?

Yes we want you to keep trying, but make changes as you go. This is truly the only way you are going to make it in this business.

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