Monday, March 17, 2014

Waiting for a Book Contract Requires A Lot of Patience

 By Pamela S. Meyers

This month I'm swimming in contest entries and deadlines as the ACFW Genesis Contest's first round is ending as I type this. I thought that would be a wonderful time to dig out an article I wrote a couple years ago on patience while waiting for that all-elusive book contract.

I've tweaked it a bit, to bring it more up-to-date, and it is something I need to continue exercising today as I wait for the next contract to come my way.


When I received my first contract in 2011, it came almost seventeen years after I began my journey toward publication. Was it easy to wait all those years? I wish I could say yes, but it wasn’t. It’s never easy to be told your story isn’t ready yet, or to comethisclose to a contract and have the publisher’s line shut down. Those are just a few of the roadblocks I ran into along the way. It’s enough to lose your patience.

Over the years, as I had to exercise patience in the long wait, I learned that like a muscle that becomes stronger when exercised, the ability to be patient becomes strengthened in the waiting.

Using the word patience, below are listed of the things that helped me to endure until the wonderful day I got THE call.

P is for persevering. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going is an old cliché with a lot of truth. From the outset, we have to determine to be in it for the long haul. I’ve met authors who after pursuing publication for a couple years gave up and stopped writing altogether. If writing for publication is your calling, determine you will do what it takes for however long it takes.

A is for abidingness. I don’t know what I would do without sensing God’s calling to write, and His daily presence to assure me that I’m within the scope of His will. He tells us to abide in Him and He will abide in us. He gives us all we need for life, the life He’s called us to live. If He’s called you to write, then He will provide all you need for the writing life in His due time.

T is for teachability. Many of the most published authors take writing workshops at conferences. When I look at the stories I wrote seventeen, ten, or even four years ago, I see how I’ve grown the craft. We can’t move up the scale to being a publishable writer if we don’t take those writing courses, read craft books, and practice our writing until our fingers bleed all over the keys.

I is for insistence. Don’t ever settle for mediocre. Insist on doing better next time in a writing contest, or wowing an editor who rejected your idea in the past, or taking a rejected manuscript making it better.

E is for endurance. A form of the word patience in the Greek translates to patient endurance. The King James calls it long suffering. I think that’s an apropos description to describe years of waiting for publication. There were times when I asked God if I misunderstood His intent on my life, and every time He would allow something positive to happen, like a request for a full manuscript. So I kept on pursuing.

N is for nuts and bolts. We need to know more than how to write, we need to learn the nuts and bolts of the publishing industry: What editors are currently looking for, or what they are not so interested in at the moment. What are the market trends? How is digital publishing affecting the industry landscape is traditional the only way to go now? What about the indie trend? Is that something to shoot for after you have a couple traditionally published books under your belt? We can never know too much about this ever-changing industry.

C is for courage. We need courage to make ourselves known in the industry, and to develop our platform even before we publish. Where are our spheres of influence and how can we grow them? A budding author must become a known entity on the social media platforms. Make his or her name recognizable. For the more outgoing this isn’t so difficult, but for the shy it can require a lot of courage to do this.

E is for energy. Hanging in there can take a lot out of us. For those with family responsibilities and a job outside the home, there is often little time for writing unless it is done in the wee hours. Learn what you personally need in the way of sleep and downtime and allow yourself to avail yourself of those times so you will have the needed energy to write. Pacing is important.

Even though I’ve landed some book contracts now, I still need to put these into play each day as I work on my current WIP and get proposals out to my agent. I find that when I begin each day on my knees, God is always there ready to give me everything I need for the life of a writer.

A native of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, author Pamela S. Meyers lives in suburban Chicago, an hour's drive away from her hometown which she visits often to dig into its historical legacy. Her novels include Thyme for Love, and Love Will Find a Way,  contemporary romantic mysteries and her 1933 historical romance, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva,Wisconsin, released in April, 2013. She can often be found speaking at events around Lake Geneva or nosing in microfilms and historical records about Wisconsin and other Midwestern spots for new story ideas.


Linda Yezak said...

I didn't see this the first time you posted it, but I'm glad I saw it today. Needed to read this--especially the "E is for energy" part.

Donna Collins Tinsley said...

This was an awesome blog today. Just what I needed, also.

Linda Glaz said...

So true, Pam. Particularly perseverance. In more things than just our writing. It is so important in every aspect of life.