The Hard Facts

“An editor is someone who separates the wheat from the chaff and then prints the chaff.” Quoted by Adlai Stevenson in You Said a Mouthful.

Today I want to talk about realism. And this is as much for me as it is for you. Because the fact of the matter is, it’s fun to dream. It’s encouraging to imagine. It’s great to have goals. But we writers need to be practical. This isn’t to crush any hopes or slow your momentum; it’s just to reaffirm the way things are for all of us.

Landing an agent won’t guarantee you publication.

Ouch. I know that might be hard to hear, especially for those of you that are focusing on this. I love my agent. She rocks my socks. And I know she’s doing her damndest to get my book out there. She’s enthusiastic and I couldn’t be in better hands. But she doesn’t control the industry, unfortunately. Not everyone is going to love the story. If an editor decides he or she doesn’t like my work, and it happens over and over again, then Beth’s part has been fulfilled. She did her job; we just didn’t get the prize. It’ll be my job to write something new and amazing.

And that doesn’t mean that the manuscript won’t be seen one day. Just not now. It could be because your writing needs a little tweaking, or it isn’t the right time for that story, or you haven’t found the right editor. The road the publication is, for most, long and hard. It’s not daisies and sunshine and cupcakes. It’s work. Revising, waiting, dealing with rejections and deciding the next move.

Which leads me to another point. It won’t happen in one week.

Okay, it has happened for a few, I admit. But those are the exceptions, not the norm. Many bestselling authors were rejected dozens of times by publishers before finding that one perfect fit. For the most part, though, it’s a drawn-out process. Most of us know that publishing is a slow business, right? It takes time. Because I’m not a particularly patient person, this has been a learning process for me. It isn’t going to happen right away, and not even anytime soon, if I’m being realistic.

So while I love picturing myself on a red carpet with cameras flashing (in my daydreams, authors are like Hollywood stars), I do need to keep a light grip on that realism. If I don’t, the waiting gets harder and the anxiety gets a little more rein.

I know, this post is such a downer, huh? Of course it's okay to have those dreams! If we didn't, we wouldn't have agents or submit to editors or one day see our work on shelves. And if you're the kind of person who's fueled by hoping hard and leaving reality behind, go for it. Maybe it will happen for you. There have to be more J.K. Rowlings and Stephenie Meyers in the world, right? Just be careful.

That's it for today, I think. I promise, tomorrow's post will be less doom-and-gloom. I’ll see you all next week!