Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Positive Attitude = Success

I write novels as a hobby. I love creating characters, putting them into troublesome situations then figuring out how to save them. The problem with this pastime is, I can't really show off my handiwork. It's not like I can hang my novel on the wall for people to admire like a painter does with her work of art. My books are spending their time gathering dust in a Microsoft Word file. My husband tells me to simply enjoy the creative process and let it be. Good advice, but it's sort of like cooking a five course gourmet dinner and having no one come over to enjoy it. Something is missing about that loop. A writer needs readers just like a chef needs eaters and an actor needs an audience.

You may be thinking, why not publish your book?

I'm trying. I've sent out many query letters to literary agents requesting representation. A writer needs one of these sought after individuals so a publisher will pay attention to their manuscript. No luck.

Snicker, snicker. I hear you. You're thinking if your novel is good, you'll be able to get an agent. But that's not the case for me or any unpublished author.

 A.V. ~ Publishing did an interview with a small ‘mom and pop’ literary agency in Colorado. They receive 36,000 query letters a year. From those queries, 896 writers are invited to submit an additional 30 pages. Of those 896 submissions, a handful of full manuscripts are requested. They selected three new writers to represent in 2010. That's less than a one-tenth of one-percent chance of being picked up by a remote agency! If writer takes a novel to NYC, the odds are worse and if a writer does nab an agent, only 50% will end up finding a publisher. Not a good time to break into traditional publishing. To read the interview click here:

Will having a positive attitude get me a book deal? Maybe. I also have a Mega Million lottery ticket that is certain to win.

What do I do?

Give up my dream?

Or keep moving forward?

Keep moving forward. I will publish my novel(s) just not through a literary agent. I don't have the patience to put too much effort into an arena where my chances of success are less than 1/10 of one percent. Let's say I'm a realistic optimist. So what do I do? That's where my Pollyanna spirit shines through. I become my own publisher with the help of's CreateSpace, the booming e-publishing market and community support.

Will I sell books that way? Sure. Lots of people who e-publish and self-publish do. Why not me? It's a decent book and I have loads of energy to market it.

Will I become the next Jodi Picoult?

That is totally up to fate. At this point, all I want is for some people to read and be entertained by my novel and to have a little fun with the marketing endeavor. My happiness does not depend on making it to the New York Times Bestsellers List.

Let's look at the top selling author, John Grisham's journey. Did he write a novel, try to get it published and then mope around until that happened?

John Grisham

First, Grisham had a dream of becoming a professional baseball player then an author.

Grisham figured he was good enough to become an athletic pro after playing baseball for a year at Northwest University. He transferred to Delta State University so he could play for Dave 'Boo' Ferriss, head baseball coach and athletic director. Among other honors, Boo pitched the Boston Red Sox to the American League pennant in the 1940s. It was Boo who convinced Grisham that he was not cut out for baseball and told him to try something else-like books and studying.

Instead of crashing into a depression, Grisham transferred to Mississpi State University in 1975. He studied accounting and went on to become a lawyer. Somewhere during that time, he caught novel fever. He wrote his first two novels, but they were never published.

He began writing his third novel,  A Time to Kill in 1984 while serving in the Mississippi House of Representatives and it was published in1989 by a small press after being rejected by at least 28 publishers. A Time to Kill sold 5,000 copies and was quickly pulled from store bookshelves.

According to Grisham's website the rejection process didn't discourage him. "I never thought of quitting. My attitude was: 'What the heck, let's have some fun.' Honestly, I believe I would've sent it to several hundred people before I would have even thought of giving up."

Talk about the power of positive thinking! 

To help keep the creative juices flowing and his mind off the lengthy process of getting a first book published, Grisham took the advice of his agent and immediately began writing a fourth novel, The Firm, and we all know what happened to that blockbuster. For more click here:

Was a positive attitude the foundation of Grisham's success? I never asked him or met him so I can only speculate. Based on his story, I would guess the answer is yes. If he was a pessimist, wouldn't he have given up on writing after his first three novels weren't successful? 

Where is he now with both of his dreams?
  • Author - There are currently over 275 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 40 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man. 
  •  Professional Baseball Player - Although John Grisham never made it to the major leagues, he now serves as the local Little League commissioner in his hometown. The six ballfields he built on his property have played host to over 350 kids on 26 Little League teams.
Adopting a positive attitude about endeavors works. It's been proven over and over again. The good news is it only takes a moment to turn a negative thought into a positive one. Try it.     

A Little Something Extra:

Click on the link below for an NPR story about several authors difficult journeys to success: 

<embed src=";m=142438006&#38;t=audio" height="386" wmode="opaque" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" base="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"></embed>

“Life is short..Live to the fullest..”
                         John Grisham, The Runaway Jury

No comments:

Post a Comment