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Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The Dirty Little Success Secret

by Linore Rose Burkard

When I give writing workshops I have the privilege of meeting writers at all talent levels, some published, but many still learning the ropes. Some have expressed a feeling of hopelessness. It seems to them no matter what they do, publication is not within reach. Successful authors, they think, must have a secret or two unknown to them. Why else aren't they published by now?

They want to know the dirty, little secret. 

I like to tell them, first of all, that we are all still learning the ropes. 

Is there a secret to learning the ropes?
Even published authors, those who have navigated the climb to publication with one house, may have to take a new and different course to get their next book published. There are exceptions for some popular authors, but for most of us, like stocks, past success is no guarantee of future earnings. 

But is there a dirty little secret to success?

Actually, yes!
In fact, there are two of them. Here are the two filthy secrets that successful authors are intimately familiar with: Perseverance and work.

No one likes these words, because they imply strain, patience, and fatigue. Persevering in the face of difficulty is hard. Work, by its very nature, takes energy.

But these "secrets" are actually good news for writers, because while success is sometimes being in the right place at the right time, or comes as a result of who you know, most often it is a result of these two things that are completely within our grasp. Anyone can exercise perseverance. Anyone can do hard work.    

Perseverance can get you in the right place at the right time, and hard work will help you meet the people you need to know. The reverse is also true: Hard work can get you in the right place at the right time, and perseverance will help you meet the people you need to know. 

So, the truth is there is no secret at all.  

As Colin Powell said, "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure." 

About That

It is easier to feel that life is unfair and that you are wasting your time writing and editing than it is to prepare sufficiently (for publication), do the work necessary, and learn from failure. 
But this is precisely what writers must do. 

Work hard--and keep working hard.
Prepare (learn, attend conferences, read books on the craft) and keep preparing. 

Take failure and learn from it, that is, every rejection, every critique. (Some criticism will not be accurate. Most will have at least a grain of truth. Learn to find that grain--it can be very, very helpful.)  


Only the Lord knows the right time, the right publisher, and the right agent for each of us. If we receive a rejection, we can rest assured it wasn't the right place, time, or person for our work. Every closed door is a nudge in a new direction, towards the one that with perseverance and work, will "magically" open. 

Samuel Johnson said, "Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance." 

Do you have a great work in mind? 
Press on.
Publishing success will come in His time and in His way. 

In the meantime, remember that we write:
  • not because we may we published
  • not to impress an agent or editor
  • not to show family or friends that we can
but to serve the Lord, to steward the resources of creativity and imagination that He has entrusted to our care. When we remember it is GOD we serve, we can grasp that we are always a success, so long as we are faithful to Him. 

Keep Writing!


Linore Rose Burkard is best known for historical regency novels with Harvest House Publishers, including Before the Season Ends, the award-winning The House in Grosvenor Square, and, The Country House Courtship. As a writer noted for meticulous research as well as bringing people to life on the page, Linore’s books delight fans of historical romance with “Heyeresque” humor and Austen-like manners.  Linore teaches workshops for writers with Greater Harvest Workshops in Ohio, is a homeschooling mother of five, and has recently finished a YA novel. Keep up with Linore by subscribing to her free newsletter at


  1. So very true, Linore. I might add that faith and obedience are also vital to any writer in the quest to serve God's long-term purposes as accounted for in Hebrews 11. Thanks for the reminder to work hard and persevere.



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