Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Lesson in Perseverance

Those of you who follow me on Facebook might have already seen this link I shared a few days ago. I loved this story because it reminded me how much perseverance can pay off. The link refers to the story of Kathryn Stockett, who wrote The Help. This book was one of our picks for book club, and it was amazing--one of the few books that our whole group loved.

But 60 agents didn't love it. In fact, one agent described her writing as "tiring." If she hadn't queried that 61st agent, our book club might never have had the honor of reading such an amazing story. Besides perseverance, Ms. Stockett also continued editing the book based on feedback from her earlier rejections. The book that 61st agent read was likely a very different version than the one the first agent read. But it still serves as a reminder about how subjective tastes can be.

Also, I'd like to point out that some published authors will tell you 60 rejections is nothing. Some queried 80, 100 or even 150 agents before finding their perfect match. They didn't give up. I'm not saying you shouldn't move on to a new manuscript at some point, but don't sell yourself short. As Ms. Stockett and tons of other authors out there will tell you, hard work plus persevering in the face of long odds can reap huge rewards.

What about you? Any tales of writerly perseverance you'd like to share?  


  1. This is a great story, and it definitely shows the importance of perseverance - but also the importance of listening to feedback & implementing it if you think (when you're really really honest with yourself!) it is good advice!

  2. SOmetimes I think success in the arts is a combination of luck, devotion, sincerity and luck. Other times I look at who gets published and who doesn't and think, "huh?" Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust
    Twitter: @fangswandsfairy

  3. I'm pretty sure I queried at least 60 last year before I knew what I was doing. It will take a lot more than that to make me give up.

  4. Trisha--I agree that it's so important not to get defensive around feedback. Constructive criticism almost always makes the book better.

    Steph--I think of it more as good timing combined w/ the devotion part. You never know which agent might want something at any given time.

    Matthew--Good for you! The learning process of querying is a whole post (or ten) in itself. ;)

  5. I love her story. With one of my manuscripts, I queried at least 60 agents, so can empathize with the heavy, dark feeling that wants to take hold. You have to keep fighting by sending out more queries or writing that next book.

  6. Jeanne-and look how amazing your story turned out! :)

  7. Wow. Awesome post.
    I'm just getting ready to jump into the query trenches. If I ever get the doubts, I'll re-read this ;)

  8. I'm sure I'll be referencing this post in the future. Lol! Thanks, Kristi!

  9. Lindsay--good luck querying!

    Lacey--I'm sure I'll be referencing my own post too--lol!


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