The Meaning of Persistence

SisyphusI asked people on Facebook to tell me what they’d like me to address on the blog. This post is in response to Lisa Addison, who said:

Is it still possible to get a book deal these days if you have a great story but you aren’t a celebrity and it’s not a story that’s on the front pages or on CNN? As a former journalist and as a writer with more than 25 years of experience, I know a good story, I know how to write, I meet deadlines, and I get really nice letters back from literary agents – but still no agent. But if I was a celebrity or someone who knows someone, I’d have one. Super frustrating!

Well, Lisa, the answer is simple: yes.

There are debut authors getting published in all genres. If that wasn’t the case, why in the world would any agent accept queries from anyone, ever? Queries are mostly from unpublished writers. If it were impossible for non-celebrities to get published, then agents wouldn’t even accept queries. They’d just put big “Closed” signs on their websites and never look at incoming submissions. We don’t do that, because we’re always looking for new books from new authors.

The reason it’s so hard is that the number of “slots” available for debut authors in traditional publishing is shrinking, while the number of writers pitching books is growing. You’ve chosen to enter a field with a ridiculous amount of competition. Like I said in my post The Real Reason You’re Getting Rejections, sometimes it’s just a numbers game. The marketplace is crowded.

If traditional publishing is your goal, then there’s no substitute for persistence. I’ve found that a lot of people think they know what persistence means until they’ve gotten numerous rejections. Trying to get published feels like an uphill battle, they get super frustrated, and they forget that this is exactly the moment when persistence is supposed to kick in. Persistence isn’t a factor when you’ve just started. Persistence is what’s needed after the 20th and the 50th and the 200th rejection.

And persistence doesn’t mean just keep trying the same thing over and over. It means persisting to find what will work. Continuing to become a better writer. Seeking out the agents who might like your work. Improving your pitch. Doing everything you can until you find the right agent and the right publisher.

And guess what? If we allowed ourselves to, agents could be just as frustrated as you are about the whole “celebrity” thing. We could sit around and bemoan Snooki’s book deal and be frustrated that the agents who rep famous people have it easy. (Actually, sometimes we do sit around and complain about that.) But then we get back to work.

Just like you. Get back to work.

Can you relate to Lisa’s frustration?

Posted in

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Issac Maez on March 25, 2012 at 10:52 AM

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  2. London Crockett on February 14, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    Excellent reminder, Rachelle. I like to point out to people that there are more middle class people in the world than there were people just over a century. That’s a lot of people with the education and means to write. Of course, that means a lot more readers, too, but it doesn’t mean the number of authors being read has increased at the same pace.

  3. Michelle Worthington - author on February 5, 2012 at 1:28 AM

    A little known side effect of getting your book publishing is having to learn how to market yourself as an author, as well as selling your book. Publicists have limited time and budget when it comes to promotion, especially for a new author. A successful author is also a sales person, an accountant, an administration officer, a graphic designer and a self-promotion guru. Getting published then seems like the easy bit!!!

  4. […] Don’t believe the hype. There are debut authors getting published in every genre. Why persistence pays: […]

  5. Sandy Stevener on December 13, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    I saw this quote on Facebook and thought it very appropriate for this post.

    Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be.

    • Susan Bourgeois on December 13, 2011 at 9:44 PM

      Thanks for sharing that great quote Sandy!

  6. LittleMissVix on December 13, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    I agree – rejection can make you crumble or make you more determind. Persistence is key!

  7. Jenny Milchman on December 12, 2011 at 10:41 PM

    I wanted to share these numbers with Lisa. I wrote 8 novels, had 5 of them submitted by 3 agents over the course of 11 years, resulting in 15 almost-offers (editors taking the mss up the ranks before being turned down either by their boards or the publisher her/himself).

    Last May, my 8th novel sold to my dream editor at Random House. It wouldn’t have happened without my dedicated agent and the intercession of an angel author, who didn’t know me but liked my book.

    If your dream is to be traditionally published, it will require more of you than you can imagine at the beginning. But if my experience so far can be extended, it will also give you even more than you dream of now.

  8. Jane Healey on December 12, 2011 at 8:46 PM

    Thank you for another inspiring post. It’s like Ira Glass said in the video you posted awhile ago (I watch it on days when I’m desperate for a pep talk): “It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

    Oh and video is here:

  9. Heather Gilbert on December 12, 2011 at 8:24 PM

    The process of querying/proposal-ing/pitching in this market gets you from the “this book is my baby, no one can mess with it till it’s published in its original, pristine state” mentality, and throws you into a place where you actually enjoy critiques, because you KNOW they’re going to make your work stronger. You don’t have to incorporate every one, and you don’t have to edit your book beyond recognition. But a willingness to accept the advice and viewpoint of others (your prospective readers, especially) is key to becoming an even MORE AWESOME author than you already are!

    I also think that love and support of blog followers and friends/family is crucial to keep plodding along. Some days, you just need someone to TELL you that yes, you can write.

    My husband told me once that given my work ethic with writing, I can’t NOT get published someday. Because I’ve grabbed writing by the teeth, and I’ll shake every drop of inspiration from my brain and even then, I won’t let go until I’m published. Or dead.

  10. Tiffany Hawk on December 12, 2011 at 8:12 PM

    Wonderful post, Rachelle. Thanks to dogged determinism, I just sold my debut novel on Friday to Thomas Dunne, an imprint at St. Martins (I’m still jumping up and down!). I once had a boss who wouldn’t let me write a press release, saying, “Face it. You’ll never be a writer.” Several years ago I was dropped by my first agent, and then most recently, my novel spent a year on submission. Fortunately, I did get a lot of wonderful feedback from editors who almost bought the book, and that helped me revise and revise again until I had a saleable novel. The best thing of all that even during the rejection phase, I saw how much most editors do care about their jobs and their books.
    To all your readers – keep plugging away, and keep revising your book and your approach…Good luck!

  11. Kristin Laughtin on December 12, 2011 at 6:17 PM

    Sometimes it’s easy to bemoan Snooki’s book deal until we think about what we want to achieve by being published. If we just want money, then it’s very easy to envy her. But engaging with the community of aspiring writers makes me think most of us want more. We want our stories to be loved, shared, remembered. I doubt anyone is going to be seriously touched by Snooki’s novel, and it won’t be remembered in several years. Most of us probably do not want that sort of literary career.

    I always feel very inspired reading about classic or well-loved works and writers that had a long road to publication. Decades-long, for some of them. The important thing to remember is that we can’t have a similar story if we give up too soon. We have to keep trying until we find something that works.

  12. Stephen King on December 12, 2011 at 6:06 PM

    It’s very easy to become very frustrated in this process. I addressed the other side in a blog post a couple of months ago, titled “It Only Takes One Yes.” Once you get a yes, all of a sudden you’re walking on air, the people at your day job smile appreciatively at you and whisper “Oh, wow, you’re a published author,” and some day if you’re lucky one of your daughter’s friends at school will come up to her telling all about this great new book she’s reading, and your daughter will get to say yes, she knows of the book, and yes, she even knows the author personally. Happened to me just last week, in fact. It’s a good, good feeling.

  13. Jo Lawler on December 12, 2011 at 5:07 PM

    Very timely, since yet another rejection landing in the inbox a few moments ago.
    I asked my hubby for a punching bag for Christmas – I’d rather work off my frustration on that sometimes.

    The point about persistently improving really hit home. I will keep going, keep trying, keep writing and keep submitting. Through it all, I will count myself successful if I have continued to grow as a person.

    Thanks for the timely and encouraging post, Rachelle.

  14. Marji Laine on December 12, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    Endurance and determination just seem to be part of this career. Most jobs offer pay during the long arduous project tasks. However, much of the work of a writer is done before any pay rolls in so it can feel useless and unappreciated. I do think the key is a willingness to improve/adjust the writing.

  15. Sarah Thomas on December 12, 2011 at 3:19 PM

    Thanks for the reminder that persistence is what you have to reach for when giving up looks like the way to go. It really isn’t persistence until then. As for representing celebrities–I’m betting Snooki is nobody’s dream client!

  16. Kristen Johnson on December 12, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    Thanks for the reminder and encouragement! I needed that today.

  17. Rick Barry on December 12, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    I believe that, without persistence, just about nobody could land a transitional publishing contract. As you rightly suggest, persistence is NOT simply repeating the same procedure and hoping for a better outcome. Striving to learn more and to perfect one’s style go hand in hand with persistence.

    Years ago I read a biography on the Wright brothers. At one point, one of the brothers lamented that mankind could live another thousand years and not figure out the secret of flight. Six months (and many tweaks to their design) later, that man was airborne. Persistence!

  18. Jeanne T on December 12, 2011 at 2:10 PM

    I appreciate your perspective, Rachelle. I’m not yet at the point where I’m querying anthing. It seems like part of persistence requires a teachable spirit–a willingness to grow from rejections and to see how to make changes that will make my writing/ms better. Persistence requires looking beyond the moment and toward the goal. I haven’t mastered this yet, but I’m working toward it.

  19. Bret Draven on December 12, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    “And persistence doesn’t mean just keep trying the same thing over and over.”

    This reminds me of the definition of Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results!

    Writers are supposed to be as wily as the very same characters they create. If you are going to sit around like a well-oiled rock, the outcome should be painfully obvious; destination failure! C’mon people, we are writers… act accordingly!

  20. Michelle DeRusha on December 12, 2011 at 12:57 PM

    Yup, yup and yup. I’ve gotten discouraged for sure. But I am stubborn as all get-up, so I won’t give up on traditional publishing until I have exhausted all possibilities. And then, even if that happens, I won’t give up writing because it’s who I am.

    Great post, Rachelle!

  21. Gillian Marchenko on December 12, 2011 at 11:46 AM

    Thanks for the reminder, Rachelle. I’m up to my elbows in rejections right now for my memoir but have resolved to keep going and perhaps, purchase a well padded snowsuit to brave the elements.

  22. joan Cimyotte on December 12, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    It is frustrating. One thing that keeps me chugging up the hill is the not so good books out there. I start to read them and I’m lured into utter boredom. There are so many books written in standard formula established by the genre. Ugh. It’s just awful to me. I think my story is not boring and it has no formula. My story is more fun and enjoyable to read. I think that helps chug my engine.

    • Timothy Fish on December 12, 2011 at 11:49 AM

      One of the dangers of not following “the formula” is that readers won’t know what to expect. Most readers aren’t looking for something new; they are looking for something similar to books they have enjoyed.

      • catrina welch on December 12, 2011 at 7:41 PM

        what a great reminder that most readers aren’t looking for something new; they are looking for something similar to books they have enjoyed! I needed that, as I have been doing comps in prep for my proposal. Thank you.

      • joan Cimyotte on December 13, 2011 at 8:26 PM

        You are right, Timothy. I just want more. I don’t want formula.

  23. Lindsay Harrel on December 12, 2011 at 10:52 AM

    I’m at a place where I’m just beginning to think about submitting to agents, so this is a great reminder as I dive in, to remember to keep paddling and not be concerned about the waves around me, but to keep focusing on the goal ahead.

  24. Yvonne Osborne on December 12, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    I just came to say hello and now I’m getting back to work!

  25. Wendy on December 12, 2011 at 10:27 AM

    As with any job, I think the real key is loving what we do. If we love writing, getting published will feel like a bonus, the cherry on top of the cake. But in the meantime, we have the privilege of having our cake and eating it, too.
    All in the way we choose to look at it.
    ~ Wendy

    • Joanne Bischof on December 12, 2011 at 12:49 PM

      Well said, Wendy. 🙂

  26. Susan Bourgeois on December 12, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    I have felt that frustration in the past but not now. It was because I didn’t understand how everything works when I co-wrote a book of non-fiction.

    I didn’t know I had to have a platform. I didn’t know I would have had an open door had I been a celebrity. I found out fast and I studied and began to understand how the world of publishing works.

    I’m glad I now have that knowledge. Yes, it does seem like it’s some sort popularity contest when we see most any level of celebrity able to capture an agent or publisher’s interest. You can compound that frustration when many have someone else write and edit their words.

    That’s how popularity works. That’s how it works in life in general in many cases. That’s what sells books. It makes sense.

    I like popularity. I would one day like to be popular in this arena.

    I realize I’ll have to work towards being valued and recognized. I’ll have to feel and display a winning attitude.

    I think we’ve all had instances in our lives that have challenged us in a new way.

    Kathryn Stockett was on TV on one of the early shows this morning. She started her novel the day after 9/11 and she was living in New York at the time. I think the entire process took her 11 years. She never gave up after 60 rejections. She kept tweaking her editing until it was accepted. She’s a great example. She admitted she’s extremely stubborn. She stated she wanted to be an example to writers just like us.

    Then there’s Tebow. You gotta love him. He’s been told his entire career that he couldn’t cut it. He wasn’t going to win the Heisman; he did. He wasn’t going to be drafted first round, he did. He couldn’t play on a pro level; he did.

    Against many odds, he’s now 7-1 as a starting quarterback for Denver (you probably know that Rachelle).

    Many people feel it’s his unstoppable winning attitude against the odds that has his team thinking they can do anything. Optimism is infectious!

    I love my book of non-fiction. I’m not giving up on it. I simply realized I unknowingnly put the cart before the horse. I realize that’s a cliche but it works.

    I hope to gain a platform after I write my book of fiction. I can then re-introduce my book of non-fiction.

    To me, fiction allows an unknown author an opportunity to have a more level playing field.

    It makes sense. If you have a good product, it doesn’t matter who you are because the product will sell.

    The agents and publishers will know it and recognize it as a hot commodity.

    I plan to Tebow the world of publishing.

    • Jeanne B on December 13, 2011 at 7:05 PM

      On Tebow: sometimes people and situations are placed in front of you to block you from achieving your greatness. They do this by putting down your dreams and telling you it’ll never happen.

      The tricky part is to recognize that this is what they are doing, and say or think “thank you for your input”, then proceed anyway, knowing that you ARE doing it.

      It’s only when we let those comments or events sink in and rearrange our self-beliefs that we “fail”.

  27. Heidi Chiavaroli on December 12, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    Thanks for this post–very timely for me!

  28. Marielena on December 12, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    Just call me Sisyphus! 🙂

  29. TC Avey on December 12, 2011 at 9:25 AM

    I can see where she is coming from. I haven’t been at this for very long (in comparison to many) but I do sometimes find myself wondering if I have a pipe dream, if I will ever get an agent. Then I stop, take a deep breath, pray and get back to work. I don’t want to waste time my wondering “what if”, instead I want to use my energy to be productive (not always an easy thing to do).

  30. Roslyn on December 12, 2011 at 9:14 AM

    I’m sure all of us can relate to this frustration but I’ve learned to realize rejection doesn’t mean NO. I take it as a slight delay in my plans, stay positive.

  31. Heather Sunseri on December 12, 2011 at 8:56 AM

    I love how you say, “And persistence doesn’t mean just keep trying the same thing over and over.”

    With the market constantly changing, and more people than ever trying to break into a market accepting less and less, those trying to break in must be willing to try new things. See their goals from different angles. Work harder at improving and continue to learn what it means to work smarter.

  32. Dan Miller on December 12, 2011 at 8:49 AM

    Great post. This is a situation where we look for “AND” solutions rather than “EITHER/OR.” My first book grew out of teaching a Sunday School class. I was getting so many requests for written materials so I just quickly put together a 3-ring binder with the content. I never talked to an agent or a publisher but after I sold 50,000 copies of the original 48 Days to the Work You Love, both agents and publishers were standing at my door.

    I encourage writers to look for great agents and publishers – while they go ahead and self-publish anyway. Frequently it’s in doing both that the best results occur.

    • Timothy Fish on December 12, 2011 at 9:06 AM

      Often, the reason publishers don’t want to take on new authors is because of the risk involved in the unknown. Self-publishing allows the author to take on the risk and once their work show proven results, the publishers don’t see it as quite so risky to publish their work.

      • Beth MacKinney on December 12, 2011 at 10:58 PM

        Still, publishers do take on many new unproven authors based on the strength of their manuscripts.

    • Beth MacKinney on December 12, 2011 at 10:46 PM

      I did an interview with Mark Jeffrey, author of ‘Max Quick.’ His was a similar experience in which he went with self-publishing and even giving his book away as an audio podcast. He simply didn’t want to wait for traditional publishing, which can be a slow process over a couple of years.

      When his podcast had 2.5 million downloads and Abigail Breslin as a vocal and avid fan, the publishers came to him. He started with an exciting book and a lot of buzz.

  33. Susan Foy on December 12, 2011 at 8:49 AM

    I remember once picking up a book at a conference, all about how different writers got started. In almost every single case it was, “I knew so-and-so at such-and-such publishing house, and they suggested I write…” That convinced me that it’s less about what you write and more about who you know. Sorry if I sound cynical!

    • Timothy Fish on December 12, 2011 at 9:10 AM

      But that raises the question, where is it written that it should be about what is written rather than who you know? We all have friends who are not the most eliquent speakers, but we spend time with them, listening to what they have to say. It isn’t because of what they are saying as much as it is because they are our friends and we know them.

      • Joe Pote on December 12, 2011 at 1:53 PM

        Good point, and an interesting perspective.

      • Susan Foy on December 12, 2011 at 3:27 PM

        You have a point, but who says that only the friends of the editors and publishers are worth hearing or have anything valuable to write about? That’s the way the system seems to work.

    • Adam Heine on December 13, 2011 at 8:26 PM

      I know my evidence is just anecdotal, but I just got an agent; I’ve never been to a conference, I knew NOBODY when I started querying a couple years ago, and the one referral I did get (which was a stroke of luck, btw) turned into a rejection.

      So yeah, I understand it feels like it’s who you know, but I’m fairly convinced that’s a myth.

      • Susan Foy on December 13, 2011 at 10:44 PM

        Wow, that is incredible. I hate to say “you’re lucky” because I’m sure you are very talented as well, but I’m trying not be envious. I’ve been going to conferences for years and don’t feel that I’ve made many real connections. I wish I knew your secret!

        • Adam Heine on December 13, 2011 at 10:57 PM

          Sorry, didn’t mean to engender envy 🙂

          But I think the secret is right here in this post: persistence. I’ve written four novels and gotten well over 200 rejections. I’m sure luck was a factor, but not a deciding one. If this novel hadn’t gotten me one, I would’ve tried with the next.

          I think your persistence in going to conferences will help too. Not necessarily in finding an “in,” but in helping you find agents who like the sort of thing that you write. I didn’t have that, and consequently sent out WAY more queries than I should have 🙂

          Just don’t give up. If you keep trying, you can get there.

          • Susan Foy on December 14, 2011 at 7:50 AM

            Thanks. Good luck with the agent!

  34. Deborah Serravalle on December 12, 2011 at 8:47 AM

    This post is an excellent reminder of what persistence means.

    I’m anxious about the query letter step because of the unknown which will be out of my control. I can do my utmost to write a good letter, I can research appropriate agents for my genre (Women’s Fiction) and I can be persistent in the face of rejection letters…however, when confronted with those rejections how will I know if it’s my letter or a host of other issues that have nothing to do with me?

    I’m already praying about it. Any other ideas out there? Are there query critique specialists that review? I have heard of the Query Shark…comments???

  35. carol brill on December 12, 2011 at 8:20 AM

    Love the reminder to try different approaches. Early in my writing career I leaned persistance is as important as talent for a writer. Lucky for me, everytime I take a strength or character inventory, persistance is one of my top 3 🙂

  36. Lisa Fender on December 12, 2011 at 8:17 AM

    I actually can’t wait to have my book to the point of being ready for queries, and from the sounds of it, it looks like it will be a very humbling experience. I think I will keep this post marked also to remind me as I go through this in about a year!

  37. Timothy Fish on December 12, 2011 at 7:08 AM

    I suppose it is a bit of irony that you currently have a closed sign on your website.

    As for persistance, isn’t the definition of insanty doing the same thing over and expecting different results?

    I don’t worry about what celebrities are doing. As far as I’m concerned, they live in a whole different world. If people like following them and finding out what they’re doing, that’s fine. It isn’t something I would do, but I suppose we all need a hobby. And if that means a celebrity gets a book deal to feed people’s obsession, there is no reason for that to bother me because I don’t write for that market.

    Besides that, a lot of celebrities don’t have the time to write a book, even if they have they ability. That means some ghostwriter is out there making money. How can I argue with that? He probably needs the money to feed his family.

  38. Amy Sorrells on December 12, 2011 at 6:19 AM

    Amen, sista and thanks, I needed that today! I think I’ll print this one out and tape it above my computer. 🙂

  39. Gwen Stewart on December 12, 2011 at 6:04 AM


    When I get down, my daughter sneaks to my computer and cues up the You Tube video of Dory from “Nemo”: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”

    The funny thing is, it usually works. 🙂

  40. Marianne Wheelaghan on December 12, 2011 at 5:08 AM

    I run an international online creative writing school and am constantly telling my students that in order to be a good writer, you have to persist with the writing. I also tell them to be a “published writer” requires as much persistence, if not more. More recently, I tell them what I did. When finished writing my book last year, I sent out my synopsis, a letter about myself and first chapters/pages of the script etc to a big agent in the UK. I got a letter back almost immediately inviting me to send the full script. Great! However, a few weeks later this was followed by a ‘positive rejection’. I contacted a second big agent. Great news! They wanted to see the manuscript too. But then I got another ‘positive rejection’. After a few of these positive rejections, and a very large number of ‘standard rejections’ (and one publisher telling me he was very interested but I’d have to wait a year till he got back to me!), I got a tad fed up. My husband, who has some experience in education publishing and is an education writer in his own right, offered to publish the book for me. He set up Pilrig Press, a fledgling publishers, still in its early days, and did what publishers do: he arranged the proof reading, the copy editing, the cover design, printing and all that stuff, as well as some of the marketing/bookselling stuff. While we realise now, we made some mistakes, overall he made an excellent job of it.
    Since the book was launched here in Edinburgh at the end of last year, the interest in it has been a tad overwhelming. It was a Bestseller in Blackwells (a bookshop chain here) on two separate occasions for weeks on end, the Kindle version has been in the top ten books for family sagas on Amazon UK I don’t know how many times now (when I just checked it was listed at 32, but it was listed 21 yesterday, it does fluctuate pretty quickly). I’ve been invited to talk about the book at literary festivals, libraries, schools etc and the book was recently listed as a Waterstones staff Xmas read here in Edinburgh (yah!) and we had our first US paperback sales a few weeks ago (plus the Kindle sales in the US have been going well, which is great news). While this has been going on, I’ve been working on novel no 2 (due out next year). So, while I didn’t find a big, or any, agent and/or publisher, it’s all working out very well indeed. If a reputable big agent/publisher ever does become interested in any of my novels (being so small we can only do so much). I’d be delighted to talk to them, but meanwhile, we’ll carry on doing what we’re doing, getting the books out and having a ball (but not very much sleep!)

    • Amy Boucher Pye on December 13, 2011 at 5:00 PM

      Impressive – Blackwells and Waterstones!

    • Jeanne B on December 13, 2011 at 7:01 PM

      And the title of your book, Marianne, is…? And we can find it… where? 🙂

      • Marianne Wheelaghan on December 13, 2011 at 7:27 PM

        Hi Jeanne B,
        I didn’t say the name of my book? Heck! It’s called The Blue Suitcase. Thanks so much for asking :O)
        You can buy a paper copy in North Carolina in the Regulator Books Store, and a Kindle version from Amazon UK/US. Here in the UK you can buy the paperback from various Blackwell shops (and their online shop) and Waterstones bookshops and a number of Independent book stores in Edinburgh – if they don’t have it in stock in your shop, they will order it. You can also buy it directly from Pilrig Press….and borrow it from most libraries. Think that is everwhere – if you can click on my name it should take you to the writingclasses website and there’s link to info about the book there. Thanks again for asking 🙂

  41. marion on December 12, 2011 at 4:43 AM

    A useful post, Rachelle. Thanks.

    I’m not querying yet (revising my first novel.) So I haven’t experienced the joy of that kind of rejection. Not looking forward to it!

  42. M. Dunham on December 12, 2011 at 4:24 AM

    This particularly resonates with me when I talk to my friend who’s agented and yet can’t sell her book despite even landing an agent. They’ve queried every publisher they can find who would take it, with no luck.

    After seeing her more sobering tale, I’ve already made myself go into the querying process understanding that no matter what, this could fail and move on. But it feels really good to achieve each level, even if I can’t sell. Hopefully my persistence will pay off. 🙂

  43. Natalie Allan on December 12, 2011 at 4:18 AM

    Great advice, Rachelle. There’s no substitute for stubbornness and persistence when a person’s dreams are at stake. I’m a firm believer that if it’s meant to be it will be; if there’s a “slot” for said writer, it will open…eventually.

  44. P. J. Casselman on December 12, 2011 at 4:12 AM

    I can definitely relate to the frustration. Taking my cue from Rachelle, I decided to pull my books from the race and self-pub while I learn the business of publishing, dwindling as it is. It is not a lack of persistence that caused me to stop querying agents, however. For me, there are far too many deserving writers in line. I’d rather be their cheerleader and self pub my works. That way, some other deserving author can get the deal.
    Go for it!

  45. Martha Ramirez on December 12, 2011 at 2:55 AM

    Great post! Perfect pic. I certainly can relate with Lisa. This business takes a whole lot of perseverance. It’s why so many writers quit.

    But in the end, it’s those who keep trying who get published 😉
    As always, this post was wellsaid!

  46. EnnisP on December 12, 2011 at 2:53 AM

    Yea, as they say, trying the same thing over and over and getting the same result is the definition of insanity and a couple more words I won’t mention.

    Thankfully, we have prayer and God encourages us to ask when we run out of ideas and/or options. When the first 200 ideas-attempts don’t work there is still one we haven’t tried yet.

    Thanks for this post.

  47. Nancy S. Thompson on December 12, 2011 at 2:32 AM

    Haha! I’m glad I’m not the only one irritated with Snoooki’s book deal, though I sometimes wish I’d never written that post about it.

    In regards to persistence, I’ve learned a lot about in the last year, that & patience. But you’re right on when you say you have to keep working to find what works. I’ve written quite a few queries but I never could have gotten to the place I am now without all that frustration, querying, and rejections that came before. It’s a process & like most of those, it takes time & a lot of hard work. In the end, the patience & persistence will pay off. Of that, I’m certain!

  48. R. H. Culp on December 12, 2011 at 2:20 AM

    I especially find it helpful to be reminded that persistence doesn’t mean trying the same thing over and over, but continuing to challenge myself to improve with every project, whether it’s working on dialogue, characterization, or just improving my process. I just keep telling myself that I’m ticking off the 10,000 hours of practice Malcolm Gladwell talks about in Outliers.

  49. Beth MacKinney on December 12, 2011 at 12:45 AM

    I’m glad I’m not a celebrity for many reasons, but it does have it’s good side. For one thing, when I do get published, it will because I was good enough to do it, rather than because a publisher banked on my notoriety to sell a few books. To most people, I’m nobody in particular. When my writing stands out from the pack, it will be based entirely on the writing. That’s what I’m working toward every day that I write.

    When I am published (and I say this optimistically), it will have meaning for me that goes beyond holding a book with my name on it or a royalty check in my hand. (Not that those wouldn’t be nice.) I will have overcome a challenge that I set for myself, and frankly, I’d rather have it that way.

    • marion on December 12, 2011 at 4:28 AM

      Wow! I like your approach, Beth!

    • kiff on December 12, 2011 at 7:13 AM

      Kiff loves this post.