I Ask The Difficult Questions

A few weeks ago I told you about Rachelle Gardner’s blog. Rachelle is an agent in the publishing business, and her blog has been a great source of good information for me over the past few months.

She recently solicited questions from her readers, and today she addressed the question I asked her, which was basically this: “With all the noise out there…all the blogs, all the media, all the people who want to be heard…how confident do you feel that all good writers will eventually be published?”

Here was her response:

Someone recently asked on my blog whether I thought that, with all the competition, will all the good writers eventually get published? With persistence and continued improvement of their work, will there be success for everyone?

I have to admit it’s one of the most difficult questions I’ve encountered, and I’ve been considering my answer for awhile. The truth: I just don’t know. But there are a few things I THINK:

1. I think there are way, way more people writing books than the market can ever support. At least this is true within traditional royalty-paying publishing. So the option of self-publishing is becoming more viable, more necessary, and can definitely represent writing success for thousands of people.

2. I think all the truly terrific storytellers will eventually be published; I think the nonfiction writers with significant platforms and winning ideas will be published. Meanwhile, countless “good” books may remain unpublished because they lack a certain spark that puts them over the top or captures the attention of the publishing community.

3. I think that in many, many cases, persistence WILL make the difference. Giving up too soon will guarantee you’ll never get published; pressing on is no guarantee, but at least it keeps the possibility alive and if you are constantly working on your craft and/or platform, your chances of publication increase considerably.

4. I think the ongoing challenge of the writer is to press on even with no guarantee of reaching your goal. This is where it’s really important to have deep reasons for writing that go far beyond financial success or notoriety. The challenge of persisting even without guarantees can be so difficult that you probably won’t persevere unless you simply can’t NOT write. It really has to go deep.

5. I also think there are many ways to define success, as I’ve written here before. There are so many ways to share your work, either with your family or maybe through your church, community or professional network, or through self publishing. Each writer has to decide for herself or himself which way to go.

Wish I could give a definite YES and declare, “Of course, all good writers will eventually get published!” I don’t personally feel confident saying that.

I think she makes some good points. It definitely encouraged me to be persistent with my goals and dreams, and to be sure to only pour myself into projects I completely believe in.

(I should also note that I did not ask this question because I am assuming I am in that group of “good writers” who are not yet published. I may be. I may not be. Either way I have a long way to go and lots of improvements to make to get better at the craft.)

Thanks for answering my question, Rachelle!