This morning a friend sent me a link to a blog post that stated that the secret to getting published is not persistence, as I always thought, but believing in yourself. My friend's purpose in sending this to me was to remind me to have belief in myself--not to get published, but to remain published.
I remember being an unpublished author, striving to improve my craft, going to the conferences and the writers' group meetings, submitting my work and getting rejected. For six years I kept at it until finally, on January 26, 1998 I got the call. Suddenly I was a published author.
I had never thought beyond that moment. My goal was to get published, and I accomplished that. Now, twelve years later, my goal is to stay published. And that is not as easy as it seems, especially in this shaky economy where New York is tightening their belts and not giving out offers to established authors as often as they used to.
If you think becoming published means you know everything there is to know about writing, think again. The stakes are raised every time you submit a proposal to a publisher. Submission does not get any easier once you have sold a book. Each book has to be better than the one before it, so you need to keep learning and growing. Getting published the first time is no guarantee you will continue to publish.
So, you say, how do you stay published then?
Before today I would have said persistence. I would have told you to stick to it until you made it happen. But then I read the email from my friend, and I realized that persistence is only half the battle. The other half is believing in yourself.
Persistence is easy. You can do the work and the research; you can write the book. But how is that persistence going to help you get the attention of an editor or agent? That is where believing in yourself comes in.
Opportunities will arise in your journey toward success, and your job is to recognize those opportunities and have the confidence to grab them when they come your way. Go to a conference and meet that editor you are interested in. If you can't get an appointment, then attend her workshop and maybe speak to her afterwards. Believe in yourself enough to pitch your book to your dream editor (or agent).
Persistence is a necessary evil if you want to become published or if you want to stay published. But believing in yourself will always put you on the right path, where luck and opportunity will be able to find you.