Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Feeling Lucky

I'm done with draft four. Hooray! Time to start seriously thinking about how I'm going to sell this book. So when I heard that Elana Johnson's From the Query to the Call was now FREE on her website, I popped over and downloaded it.

It's a great read - short and to the point. As a query veteran of two unpublished novels, I thought I knew the routine, but Elana gave me some new ideas for my next round. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is entering the query battlefield.

Impressed by Elana's wisdom, I went clicking around for more, and I came across this list:

7 Personality Characteristics You Need to Get Published by Carolyn Kaufman, Elana Johnson, and Suzette Saxton

At first I didn't want to see the list. What if it had things on it like, "Great marketing skills" or "Look really good on camera?" In spite of my fears of inadequacy and certain doom, curiosity got the better of me. To my relief, the characteristics were things like perseverance, self-confidence, patience - things I've already got! I felt real good until I got down to the last trait on the list.


Ow. Haven't got that. I don't even feel like I deserve it. Whenever I submit, I sit there for a while thinking, "This is only one of hundreds of other unpublished manuscripts out there that are all just as good or better. Why should mine be chosen?"

And maybe that's my problem. I need to feel lucky. I need that thrilling conviction that mine is the book they're waiting to see. Because if I don't believe it, no one else is going to believe it either.

Do you feel lucky?


  1. When the family reunion starts, and you look around at your marvelous husband, wonderful parents, incredible grandparents, fantastic siblings (and siblings-in-law, if I do say so myself), amazing children, and darling nieces and nephews, I think it will be hard not to feel immensely lucky. Your family sure makes me feel lucky.

  2. "I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it." (quote by Thomas Jefferson)

    I don't think you need to worry. You'll have all the luck you need!

  3. Rebecca J. CarlsonJuly 13, 2011 at 10:06 PM

    Thanks, Angela! I've been very, very lucky in the wonderful people I've been blessed to associate with throughout my life.

    And Jonene, I know I'm just fretting because luck is one thing I can't earn or develop through hard work.

    How strong is the element of chance in the publishing business? What does everyone think?

  4. You do have to be in the right place at the right time, but consider that you can control being in the right place. You can hone your craft, write your books, cultivate ideas for new ones, keep submitting and networking. The right time will come around every so often, and while you can't control it, you can be in a position to take advantage when it happens.

    I think people over-emphasize luck, though. It's a rather convenient excuse for not getting published.

  5. That's what I was thinking, Emily. Because if I'm really honest about it, the luck I've had so far came when I wasn't prepared. Those books I haven't published? Well, they really ought to be better!

    My goal is to create the most satisfactory reading experience possible. But after reading many books that didn't quite get there, I wonder how much of that is luck? Can you make a book be great, or is it chance when a great book springs up out of mind, sweat, and toil?

  6. I think that's exactly what makes any kind of art the gruelling endeavor that it is, the need to create pieces that feel spontaneous and dripping with raw emotion, and the need to do it not just once, but again and again. Some people write one book they love and feel they'll never write one they love that much again, but if that's the truth, then you're not a writer. You're someone who got lucky once. Being a writer means forging ahead into darkness to find the spark once more. It means being able to afford having your beloved book butchered by a publisher or released at the wrong time in the wrong market, because you are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure there are more where that came from.

    Not joking - this is why so many artists struggle with substance abuse. But the artists I admire are the ones who don't take shortcuts and in the process of stretching themselves, truly master the craft. Beethoven springs to mind. I don't expect I'll ever reach those heights, in my mortal lifetime :-)

  7. Luck is that fuzzy element we can't bring into focus, but endurance beats luck at the end of the day. If we stick it out and do the work we'll make it. Of course crossing our fingers can't hurt either. *Wink*

  8. I believe in making my own luck. Also - the link to Elana's book doesn't work?

  9. Try the link:!query-to-the-call

  10. NOW it works. ARRRGH! Thanks fer bringin' that to me attention, mates!


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