Does Luck have a Place in Publishing?

Apr 24, 2012

So I've heard before that getting published is a mix of hard work and luck. You're not going to get anywhere without hard work, but many authors have spoken of hitting the market at just the right time, or running into an agent at just the right moment, and things like that. Unfortunately, luck isn't exactly something we can control.

I could go off for a while on luck/providence/God/ whatever you want to call it, and what it is, and if it's really that important. But I'll keep it short. I think for those who work hard, luck always comes-- I guess it's kind of a "fortune favors the brave (or hard working)" kinda thing for me. Or a preparation meets opportunity thing. It might come now, or later, or have a different form than someone else's, but it always comes.

I've been lucky enough to take classes from amazing writers I admire and find an incredible critique group. These things happened rather randomly, but they happened because I was working toward my goals, and that put me in the right place at the right time. And in a few weeks, I'm lucky enough to pitch to an agent in person. Eek! Wish me luck!

And on the note of luck, Jeff Hargett tagged me in the Lucky 7 meme. Rather than go to page 77 of my WIP, which is in the middle of a distinctly confusing conversation if you haven't read the rest of the book, here's 7 lines from page 7 of The Unhappening of Genesis Lee:


The pill jumped around the table, skittering in my vision like a tiny cockroach. Ew. “What is it?” I asked.

“A de-intoxicator.”

I wrinkled my nose, but grabbed the pill. Nope. Missed. I slapped a hand over it, trapping it, and slipped it in my mouth. My head began to throb as it melted on my tongue. The rhythm in my head didn’t match the pounding beat of the music, which didn’t match the buzz of Linked memories, which made me feel like a tumbleweed in a windstorm.



So, my friends, do you believe in luck in the publishing and writing world? How have you been lucky? And if you see me around sparingly for the next few weeks, it's because I'm working hard to finish revisions before my pitch so I can be prepared for luck to strike. :)


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21 comments:

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

I love it! Be prepared for luck. Amen!

I think we have to acknowledge luck. I was just reading about an author who had someone else submit their work to a friend in the industry and has launched a whole career without ever writing a query. I personally know two authors who wrote one novel that didn't get nabbed and made it big with their second novel. One of them has probably not sent more than 5 queries in his life. ALL of these people worked hard at honing their craft but got LUCKY in publishing.

If we don't acknowledge that this part is LUCK then we say to Mr. and Ms. I'll-be-querying-till-I-die that they just didn't work hard enough, which isn't true.

I have a sincere belief that anybody who really wants to be published can be with enough hard work, humility, and PATIENCE. But luck can sometime get you out of the patience part ;)

Angela Cothran said...

I don't believe in luck as much I believe in God answering prayers. If you are told to go to a conference, read a craft book, or query a certain agent--that could be your answer.

Christina Lee said...

Niiice!!!

Someone else's version of luck is when "persistence meets opportunity" (same thing pretty much), and when you put it like that, I DO believe it. If you keep trying, something will hit. Okay, I HOPE! :D

Joe Vasicek said...

Of course luck is a major factor in publishing. Fortunately, it's just as much a factor in the busts as well as the breaks. Or would you rather blame yourself when things outside of your control cause your career to tank? There's a reason why the ancients all believed that inspiration came from the muse, and not from the artists themselves. The author of "Eat, Pray, Love" did an excellent TED talk on that subject.

The question in my mind is why wait for someone else to publish your work when it's so easy and cheap to do it yourself? Why wait for someone else to position you when you can position yourself? Especially an agent, who 1) can't pay you, 2) can't guarantee that you'll find a publisher, and 3) may not have your best interests at heart. At the end of the day, the readers are what's important. So why not try to connect with them directly? What have you got to lose?

Shallee said...

Angela-- I agree, I definitely believe that God answers prayers and plays a big part! It's been true for me.

Joe-- It's true, luck/happenstance-- or just life in general-- plays a part in both the ups and downs. I think hard work and luck play as big a part in self-publishing as in any other kind of publishing. For me personally, self-publishing is not the route I want to go at the moment because of my own goals, strengths, and weaknesses.

I know lots of people who have, through that combination of luck and hard work, had great experiences with all types of publishing!

Teralyn Rose Pilgrim said...

Good luck on your pitch session! I know you'll do great.

David P. King said...

Short answer: YES! :)

Finding the right people at the right time, on top of hard work, is all it amounts to. I'm sure there's room for tenacity in there, somewhere.

Saumya said...

This is a great post and so true! The harder we work, the luckier we can seem but I do agree that some things, good and bad, are out of our control. Best of luck with your pitch! I've heard that agents can sometimes get a better feel of the story when they are actually hearing its summary so I'm sure things will go very well for you.

Cherie Larkins said...

I like your little excerpt. :)

Good luck with the pitch!

uniquelymadebyhim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erica said...

it's funny that I found this blog post tonight. I just finished writing a blog for my own website. My post discusses a face-to-face meeting I had this week with a couple with much knowledge and experience concerning the main premise of my WIP. You can read more on Friday, if you'd like. But, I consider myself "lucky" and am thankful to God that I met these folks... originally via a Google search back in September.

I am working hard to complete my first draft and hoping that with a bit of this kind of luck, someday it will be published.

I am so thrilled for your upcoming meeting. I enjoy reading your blog and following you.

Those seven lines of your WIP have me interested in reading more. Blessings and good luck in your writing journey, Shallee!

Traci Kenworth said...

I believe in working hard toward your goals, but I also think it is luck when things happen for you. God willing, my prayers in that regard will be answered. He shows us favor when we least expect it.

Teralyn Rose Pilgrim said...

I tagged you with the Lucky 7 Meme: http://teralynpilgrim.blogspot.com/2012/04/game-of-sevens.html

Leigh Covington said...

Love it Shallee! What's important is to keep plugging away cause you never know when your "lucky" day is going to strike! :)

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

Good luck -- or whatever it is -- on your pitch, Shallee! I know you'll do well! I loved your snippet there. You have a fun voice. :)

Rachel Frost said...

I actually just barely listened to the beginning of Brandon Sanderson's class, where he says clearly that writing is not about luck. It's about skill.

Although, I think that there is an element of chance, in the way that your work is found. If you're lucky, you'll get the instant break--but for most of us, it'll be a slow build no matter how good our writing is, because of the random chance audience.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Yes, I believe in luck, infact I am waiting for my stroke of luck.

Loved your snippet, Shallee.

Shiraz Akhtar said...

I'm reading 'The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho these days, and it revolves around the idea that if you really want something then the universe conspires in your favor to bring it to you. Good luck for the pitching. I hope success meets you at the next step.

Adrienne said...

Good luck, Shallee! I'm sure you'll do great with your pitch!

Elana Johnson said...

I think luck is a huge part of the industry. HUGE. I know people don't like that, but it's true. Yes, you have to be prepared, and you can "make" your own luck to a certain extent. After that, you have to hope for the best.

Teralyn Rose Pilgrim said...

You should check out my Inspiration Collage Blogfest since you made me come up with it and you've done it already: http://teralynpilgrim.blogspot.com/2012/05/collage-of-inspiration-blogfest.html

 
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