Yes, well, there is a such thing as luck. Like going to a bar with a
friend and both of you meet your future husbands on the same night. What
kind of crummy romance novel did that come out of, you ask? The crummy
romance novel of my life. That actually happened to me. I've long since
lost touch with that other couple, but I'm still married to that guy.
I guess, there have been zillions of times I've been lucky. Close
shaves, near catastrophes averted. That's the kind of luck I'll stick
But I don't want to talk about that kind of luck. I want to talk about luck vs. perseverance in publishing.
But first, how do you define luck?
signed on your first submission for a mega-deal with a top publisher
and a king's ransom sized publicity budget? Yeah? I am familiar with
plenty of tales like that. And I guess those folks are lucky. They were
in the right place at the right time and someone noticed. Some of those
lucky people worked their buns off to get that lucky. Some didn't work
that hard and got lucky anyway.
So here's my feeling about luck.
Forget it. Because if you are one of those people who don't work all
that hard and get lucky—then what? What will you do for your second act?
is what I think luck in publishing is. Luck is finding your writer's
voice. And that usually isn't about luck at all. That's about probably
three or four books in from your first. Drafts, and rewrites and
miserable critiques from your critique group.
I wrote four entire
books before I wrote BREAKING GLASS. The first three are in the dust
bin, probably never to be heard from again. The fourth has been totally
re-envisioned and has possibly found a new life. I know that's not that
impressive to some of you workhorses with six books coming out in a
year. But I'm guessing it took years of effort to be able to write that
fast and that well.
Once upon a time I had a thin prickly skin and
wanted the world to know what a genius I was. That big break was going
to come. Oh yeah. And it did. Sort of. I found a *big agent* who
insisted that they could *make my career*. Right. That was almost five
years ago. Said agent and I did not see eye to eye on what my career
should be. The agent was very quick to tell me that I would *never
design my own cover.* So that was that. The end of my so-called lucky
It took me a good year to pick myself up off the floor and
pull my shattered ego together again. I realized I had to get out of
the Lucky Game--and just write. And write and write and write, until I
And here's the rest of the story. It may not be that
mega-deal of my once upon a time dreams, but I'm pretty sure it's some
really amazing luck.
In early 2010, I won first runner-up in a
writing contest. Which got me noticed by a rather well-known agent. Who
didn't sign me, but actually helped me edit my ms. I queried my butt off
that spring, breaking every rule in the book ( I sent out 90 queries at
the same time). I got a 25% request rate, maybe because of the contest
win? I have no idea. Maybe because I asked a few really talented query
writers to help me write the best query I could manage? I'll never know.
the summer I had about nine agents considering my ms. But they were
hemmng and hawing. Only one agent was ready to sign me without
hesitation. That was the then, brand spanking new agent, Victoria
Marini. She later confessed I was her second client. And given my past
experience with a big shot agent, I was ready to give the little shot a
try. Little shot, you're thinking? Victoria Marini who is now
practically a household name? I took a chance on her--she took a chance
on me. We are both very happy with the arrangement.
But it wasn't
smooth sailing from there. It took awhile to sell BREAKING GLASS. A few
big publishers were really interested--BUT--they couldn't get their
associates to sign on. It was too weird, too this, too that. No one
wanted to take a chance on anything in 2011.
Except the brand new
publisher Spencer Hill Press. They fell in love with my manuscript. Just
the way Victoria had fallen in love with my writing. They were small.
They didn't have the capital to do mega-anything except mega-enthusiasm.
But, honestly, mega-enthusiasm should not be under-rated.
here it is a year later and SHP has tripled in size to become one of the
biggest small publishers out there. So big, in fact, it is now
officially a mid-sized publisher. And, what some of you may know is that
Spencer Hill Press DID let me design my own cover. And then hired me to
do about seven more for other authors. With more to come. Who saw that
So--what IS luck, anyway?
Luck is a stranger you meet on a road called Perseverance.
You can't really meet that stranger if you don't drive down that road.
And if you do try to take a short cut, it might just be a one-night stand.
Thoughts? Reactions? Tales of your own you'd like to share?
BREAKING GLASS releases July, 2013 from Spencer Hill Press
And check out the awesome Marchapalooza Giveaway!