Joe Finder, New York Times bestselling author and keynote speaker for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference a few years ago, stood right on our party stage and best answered what get’s you published with one word: tenacity.
I end this series with that fact because, as much as I’ve warned you to clench your dollars at seminars, there are nuggets to be found in them. I got to hang with Mr. Finder quite a bit that weekend because I set up a signing for him (which didn’t go so well, but that’s another story) and he told me anything I wanted to know. Originally determined to be a CIA agent, Finder changed his mind because when he went to work for them he found it boring—mostly administrative. He decided to become an author. Some novelists write slews of titles and make tons of contacts to bounce around for years in hopes of striking lighting. Not Finder. Tell me this isn’t tenacious. He wrote one book, gave it to one editor, then proceeded to rewrite, rewrite and rewrite it until the editor accepted it. I don’t remember the amount of revisions exactly but it was well over THIRTY.
My favorite observation from Finder also more to the testament of persistence—and this is paraphrasing—was that aspiring authors go into book stores, look at copies and proclaim, “I can write better than that.” He humbly and comically admitted that they probably do it to his books. Manuscripts need to be clear, yes, but as for so many other subjective metrics that can garner rotten tomatoes one day or praise the next, in the end what gets the contract is stick-to-it-iveness.
From my humble experiences so far, the dude is right—not to take anything away from his prose. A couple of his novels have found their way to the silver screen, after all.
There are lots of ways to be tenacious. Send to agents and presses with open submissions. Use this internet thingy to blog, Facebook, and make contacts (I’ve gotten to know nice agents through
without having to go anywhere), and yes, conferences can open doors too. Key
thing is: tenacity doesn’t have to cost lots of money. Optimize every buck and
use your time and hard work to usher your story all the way to print. For
heaven’s sake, please don’t get it in your head that if you plop down more
greenbacks, especially at conferences, that it will necessarily buy you a
faster track. Cyber City