Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The secret to getting a book deal

Want to know what the secret is to getting a book deal (or to selling lots of copies if you decide to self-publish)? What the number one thing is that you have to have?

A lot of people will tell you it's persistence. I'll agree that you most certainly have to have that! It's a solid #2. Especially when you send out query after query and get rejection after rejection, and you think your book must be a pile of crap. That definitely takes persistence!

But I don't think it's the number one thing. Hands down, I think the number one thing is.... are you ready? It's...

Being teachable

After all, if you persistently do something wrong, that's not going to get you where you need to go, is it? And the only way to make persistence work is if you're teachable every step of the way.

Even when your critique partner tells you something you don't want to hear.
Even when it comes from someone "behind" you on this road we're all traveling.
Even when it's constructive criticism.
Even when you think you have it made.
Even when it comes along with a rejection from an agent / editor.
Even when you're a NYT bestseller.
Even when it means a major overhaul of your manuscript.
Even when it hurts your pride.
Even when it is ohmygosh so. very. hard. Because really, sometimes it just is.
ESPECIALLY when it's so. very. hard.

If you can stay teachable every step of the way, YOU WILL MAKE IT. You will reach your goals. And when you do reach your goals, it'll help you reach the next ones. And the next, and the next....

30 comments:

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

Absolutely! Teachable and able to take constructive criticism, I'd say. Not easy for any of us!

J. A. Bennett said...

This made tears spring to my eyes. I've felt this time and again, but I always wonder if that's enough. Thank you for the reassurance!

David P. King said...

Yes. This is the nail on the proverbial head, Peggy. I'm with J.A. I need a tissue. :)

prerna pickett said...

so true! I've learned so much since starting this writing journey, and I continue to do so as I go along. We have to be open to those moments of learning in order to grow and become stronger writers.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! That's one of the things that draws me to writing is that I love learning and have vowed not to be one of those old people who knows it all and can't be taught.

Charlie Holmberg said...

Love this, and it's true. Something to remember--I'm not always right, and there's ALWAYS something to learn!

S.P. Bowers said...

May I say that I love this post. Teachability is so, so important and yet it is often overlooked or completely forgotten. We tend to dwell on dedication, staying positive, writing, writing and more writing. Yet, if we don't learn, we'll keep making the same mistakes over and over again and never get anywhere.

Linda said...

Absolutely true! And it can be applied to everything in life - an open mind is a valuable thing!

JeffO said...

Excellent point, Peggy. Because even if you're unimaginably talented, there is ALWAYS something to learn, someone to learn from, someone to teach you. Great post.

VikLit said...

Excellent post, we do indeed always have something to learn and it only helps us, always.

Iain said...

I tried so hard no to laugh when you said: Solid #2's
Thanks for the reminder that we always need to be learning and striving to improve :o)

Natalie Aguirre said...

So true. I had to learn to let go of being stubborn. And ruthlessly change things as necessary.

Laura Marcella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura Marcella said...

I've never heard it put that way before, and you are so so right!

Rachelle said...

Totally agree! I think that's one of things that I love/hate about writing--you can never stop learning and there will always be a way to improve. But I love a challenge, so I'll keep reminding myself of this post. Thanks, Peggy!

Nick Wilford said...

What a great reminder! In the past I've not always been the best at listening to good advice in many aspects of life. It's something I'm working on, especially as in this community people go out of their way to help you. You're right, how can we learn if we're not willing to be taught?

The Golden Eagle said...

Excellent post! You can't improve if you don't learn how.

Cassie Mae said...

Amen, sista! So so so true.

Tammy Theriault said...

Agreed! Sometimes being teachable in every aspect of your life will help you to go far! I can be stubborn, then I breathe and say ok, maybe they have a point. Good tip!!

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Very good point!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

Tracy Campbell said...

So very true, but hard to swallow.
Thanks for the reminder. :)

Lauren said...

Being teachable is very important, but what is (almost) equally important is being able to take that criticism and say "This doesn't fit THIS book" and then apply it elsewhere.

Blindly accepting all criticism, even when it will destroy the heart of what you've made, is not necessarily a good thing.

I'm sure we've all met people who apply everything they're told and rewrite to fit each new reader. Being teachable is a very different thing than being a doormat.

Z said...

so. very. hard.

I get so discouraged sometimes when I think my stuff is junk-and learning from it and moving on and improving can be so hard. But you're right-it's what we have to do to make it all work out

Annalisa Crawford said...

So true! Great post :-)

Coleen Patrick said...

Awesome Peggy!

Kelley Lynn said...

Love this! So true! We must keep learning. Keep reading. Keep accepting criticism and using it to make ourselves better. Great post Peggy!

Tara Tyler said...

and no one wants to work with a stubborn, thinks they're always right, writer!

great advice, we need more humble pie!

Nicole said...

Amen! As my Dad likes to say, you have to be a student of the game and always willing to learn graciously.

mshatch said...

I needed to hear/be reminded of this - thank you :)