As I wrote last week and the week before, the first key to publishing is research, and the second is networking, both to find people to help you along your writing path and people you can help. The third key to publishing is persistence. This is the one key of which you have almost total control. All the research and networking will do you no good if you don’t persist when the going gets tough. And the going is tough most of the time.
Although I’d been writing stories since I was seven, I didn’t write consistently until I was eighteen. In my twenties, I began researching how to get published. But I didn’t publish my first piece of fiction until I was forty-seven.
Part of the problem was I didn’t do enough research into the craft of writing. I thought you either had the gift or you didn’t. I didn’t realize writing was an art you could learn and get steadily better at. I also didn’t network to gain a better understanding of the publishing industry.
It wasn’t until 2015, when I joined my local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers, that I learned how difficult both the art of writing and the business of publishing are. At that point, I could have given up and written for my own enjoyment, which is a fine choice. Or I could dig in and learn.
So my persistence had to kick in. This meant starting a website when I knew nothing about blogging, and keeping up the blogging when it seems like nobody reads my posts. It also meant establishing a schedule for social media posts and sticking to it whether I get a response or not. I had to research newsletters and figure how to put something together of value each quarter. (By the way, you can sign up for my newsletter in the sidebar. See where my persistence comes in?)
I went to pitch session after pitch session with agents and editors, getting all sorts of feedback, including that I should switch from writing mysteries to romantic suspense. I gave up the YA crime novel I’d worked on for literally decades when the characters in my Christmas mystery, “A Rose from the Ashes” sprang to life so vividly that I had to write about them, and the publisher of “A Rose” wanted to see what else I could write. I pushed through back and shoulder pain, crazy schedules, and family conflicts to complete my latest novel.
All of those actions come under persistence. From the time I decided wanted to write a novel to the publication of my first one, A Shadow on the Snow, in 20201 was thirty-two years.
So don’t get discouraged when the pitch session with your favorite agent goes nowhere or your views on your website take a nose dive. Slow and steady persistence will win the race.
Out of the three keys to publishing–research, networking, and persistence–which do you find the easiest to do? Which one is the hardest?