I spent my summer vacation this year in Michigan celebrating my sister’s wedding, and I got to hear a lot of behind-the-scenes stories of how she and her fiancé met and fell in love. They’ve known each other for years because she is good friends with his sisters, and he was interested in her for a looooong time before she returned his affection. His sisters told me all the hilarious stories of him talking about her dreamy-eyed at the dinner table, looking for excuses to go to the bagel shop where she worked, treating everyone to baseball games and movies just so she’d come along and he could spend time with her. He was undiscouragable! And eventually, his persistence drew her attention to his kindness and funniness…and he won her heart.
I’m not just gossiping about my little family excitement – these stories about my new brother-in-law reminded me of the road a lot of writers travel on their way to finding an agent. When you’re an aspiring author, you want to be published so badly. It’s all you can think about. Your loved ones get tired of you talking about it morning, noon, and night – maybe they even tease you about how obsessed you are, or how outrageous your dream is. You write, revise, and revise again, go to workshops and writing groups, send your manuscript out to agent after agent after agent. You get a few requests, then heartbreaking “not for me”s. It’s so discouraging.
Don’t give up! Visit the How-I-Got-My-Agent stories on any blog or writing forum and you’ll find that many represented writers went through months or years of disappointing responses before finding the agent that was right for them. Many writers got their agent with the second or third (or more!) manuscript that made the rounds. For example, my client Rena Olsen wrote very frankly about the years of self-doubt and disappointment before she signed with me. And a writer pal of hers pulled together this informal poll on when authors got published – the numbers are fairly evenly split, with only 16% debuting with the first MS they wrote.
So keep at it! Keep writing, keep reading, keep researching, keep querying – that’s what it takes. And it will be a great story to tell when you finally win an agent’s heart.
What success stories inspire you when you get discouraged about your writing? What are your best #persistence tips?