How ’bout Some Good News in Publishing?


I ran across this little gem of an article by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés today which should lift your spirits some, if you’re among those who hope to be published some day. From The Moderate Voice:

There’s another secret many writers wont tell: It has to do with the odds of being published by a mainstream press or a small publishing press. They are actually quite good. Yes, luck is needed in some small part. Good writing that’s compelling to someone somewhere (an audience, a demographic, a genre) is of the essence. Being able to put one sentence behind another is needed. Having a sharp beginning, an unsagging middle and a solid ending are mostly valued, with the exception of a few of my great loves, such as James Joyce, Ferlinghetti (who is 90 yaers old this year), Corso and e.e.

Dr. Estés suggests that the old advice we’ve all come to accept about how hard it is to get published is a myth perpetrated by those who would seek to deter others from making the attempt, thereby diminishing the competition and increasing their own odds, or as she puts it “a re-direct tactic.”

I read through her list of manuscripts that had been sold the day she wrote her article, and noted a couple of them being published by ‘somebody’s’: i.e., they are either previously published or have a recognizable name (Harry Turtledove). The rest were unknown to me, although that’s probably not much of an indicator.

All that aside, Estés rightly points out that most manuscripts never sell because they are never finished, or never submitted. She herself faced rejection 42 times before finally selling a manuscript to the same publishing house that had previously rejected it twice. She keeps a note taped to her desk for encouragement that I believe I will adopt as my own mantra:

Every day do your work with full intent, full fervor, fullest spirit, hold nothing back. If you will do your work this way every day with all your heart, you will succeed: There is so little competition.

 

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14 thoughts on “How ’bout Some Good News in Publishing?

  1. What a terrific perspective! As I often tell the college students, there’s no point in competing w/anybody but yourself.

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  2. I thought we could use a “glass half-full” perspective for once, after so much gloom and doom news in the publishing world. The fact is people are still being published, books are being sold, and all is not lost.

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  3. Do you guys not have that expression down there? It’s glass half-full, vs. half-empty. An optimist sees the glass as half-full, whereas a pessimist would see it as half-empty, so it’s being optimistic, instead of pessimistic.

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  4. Very nice to hear this, DD.

    In recent months, I’ve seriously cut down on my reading of industry blogs. Yes, it is important to know how the industry works, and the realities…but there is just way too much of a gloom and doom attitude out there.

    I love to write. Always have. Sure, I dream of getting published. But I don’t stress over the fact that it may not happen. If it does- fantastic! But hey, if it doesn’t- at least I spent time doing something I loved, and I won’t have to wonder, “what if”.

    Yes. I’m a half-full gal. 🙂

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  5. Thanks for this. DD! I have to admit to being put off by everything I’ve heard (or experienced so far) of the current climate in publishing, but I’ll keep this in mind as I pursue the kind of writing that will give me a proper byline.

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    1. It is hard not to feel discouraged, which is why I thought a little shot in the arm, so to speak, was in order. Somebody’s getting published, and it might as well be us! 😀

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  6. That is nice, positive news to read 🙂 I admit I get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of books being published, often thinking my attempt will just be swallowed in the slush piles. However, the other edge is that there are soo many books being published, surely there is room for another :). That quotation is going to be posted on my desk-mess. Dr. Pinkola Estes is awesome…loved “Women Who Run with Wolves”!

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    1. Take heart! Even Dr. Pinkola Estés took 20 years to write her first book and was rejected 42 times. Persistence is the key, I’m absolutely certain of it!

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