Monday, March 16, 2015

In Which We Talk About Luck

In the world of being an author, we're always told to work hard, to do our research and all that good stuff. And absolutely 100% on all that. If you do the hard work that needs to be done, and you do the research, you will already be in the top 10% of the slush pile. And that is a good place to be.

But there's another aspect, too, that most people acknowledge, but it isn't always talked about, and that's luck.

Much of querying and submission and reaching the right audience is not always something we can control. If people knew what was going to sell, or sell well, then we'd all be rich.

But we don't. So publishers and agents and writers and even readers have to take chances. Which is where the luck comes from.

Maybe you've just written something that is what an agent is looking for. Or a publisher. Or a brand new audience. As luck would have it, and all that.

For me, I definitely think luck played a part, especially when I queried.

I spoke a bit about this HERE already, but, before I started querying, I hit an MN SCBWI conference. It was one I had been to before, but this year was the first time I was going to pay for a critique of my work (the previous years I was at the end of querying a MS. This year, I had yet to start so the timing was perfect (lucky me)).

For the critique, you could get assigned an agent or an editor. And I got the editor. I was kind of hoping for the agent (just because I knew I wanted an agent first) but I was still excited to speak with the editor. She was from a smaller imprint at a larger house, so I was excited to see what she had to say about my first 5 pages and maybe how I could improve them.

But she didn't have a critique for me, at least, not one with improvements. Instead what she said was that she loved it, and she wanted to see the whole manuscript. And when I told her I wanted an agent and was planning on starting to query in the next few weeks, she said that was a good idea and said I should put her name in the query.

Which was such an awesome thing for her to do. I got a lot of requests on my MS when I started querying, (though that was normal for me) but I'm almost positive that my lack of rejections were due to the fact that I put that editor's name in my query letter.

And all of this was just due to luck, that I was assigned to an editor at the conference instead of the agent. And from that moment, I can trace with a single, direct line the offers I got, the agent I signed with (who called the editor I'd mentioned in my query) and the book deal I later accepted from HarperTeen.

So, yes, Luck does play a part. But I don't think it's something you should worry about. Yes, we can't control it, but also, sometimes it's nice to just let it play its part and see where we end up.

What about you? Has Luck played a role in your journey?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Most of that luck comes from timing. You sat down with that editor at just the right time.

Rena said...

Sometimes, I feel like quoting Daffy Duck when it comes to luck, but that's unfair. I've been very lucky in many aspects of my life, and I wouldn't curse it.

I do hope for more luck, but I understand it might be reserved for things like narrowly missing a telephone pole, or taking a bullet two inches from the heart or something (I'm known for melodramatics, so keep that in mind). In short, I've had pretty good luck. Do I think luck is a totally evened out thing, a sum zero? nope. but it is a factor, and I'm glad you've had such a good shot of luck.

Maria Zannini said...

I've been lucky to have good health, a decent brain, and a good sense of humor. The rest was up to me. Any success I've had was due to hard work.

heidi heilig said...

This is lucky! But of course, the work was good, and that was the make-or-break.

DL Hammons said...

I don't really call it luck...because denotes a positive outcomes...but I refer to it as chance. And yes...chance plays a huge role in all parts of our lives, not just in the publishing world. :)

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