Yesterday I was cleaning out my office and came across a manuscript of mine that did not sell. I flipped through the pages and was astounded by the copious notes from my agent, Kate McKean. It felt like I was looking at one of my student’s papers, complete with suggestions for how to revise–truly, how to write better.
I was struck by how much time and effort Kate had put in on this project, which ultimately failed. How awful for an agent. Yet, at the same time, I realized just how lucky I was to have someone willing to guide, to nudge and to be patient enough to see if I would follow her advice, and even more, if I could put it to good use. How often does life hand you that kind of opportunity?
If you’re lucky, at least once. And I do mean luck. Because I’ve been rejected hundreds of times. Looking back, I don’t fault any agent or editor who passed on my work. It wasn’t ready. With time, however, and great diligence, it now is.
Tap Out and whatever I publish next–more on that soon–are an outcome of my luck in finding an agent willing to see past the rough edges. I believe that success does not end there, however. I worked my tail off after being given an opportunity.
Recently, Patton Oswalt sounded off on this issue of luck and success in his industry, and I believe his speech applies to any creative endeavor in which there are gatekeepers. The key point is that one should not rely on luck, but believe that it exists, and know that it is only a fragment of what is needed to succeed. The rest is good, old-fashioned hard work. As it should be.
So I thank Kate, Howard Morhaim Literary Agency, Lisa Cheng and Running Press for the luck they have bestowed upon me. If you would like to read a little background on how I am in the position I am, please check out my interview with Beth Fehlbaum, author of The Patience Trilogy.
And may luck guide you where you need to be.