If you follow aspiring authors and even published authors, a common theme on a lot of posts is that the road to publication is brutal, tiring, tedious, and a mystery. Not knowing if your hard work will ever pay off can be the most strenuous of all the challenges.
After looking around on different blogs and author web sites, the common theme is patience. Most people didn’t get published overnight. Yes there are those few that somehow broke the mold (Stephanie Meyer), and we can secretly hate them. But for most success took 5-10 years. Those aren’t numbers you want to hear, but why do you think it took that long?
One reason is to learn their own craft. Note, I did not say to learn THE craft. I truly think that each person has their own style and that’s what makes your stories marketable. It’s nice to be similar to someone for readers, but you don’t want to BE someone else. Do I believe in formulaic writing? Well, yes and no. You do need to have the standard elements in your story to make it work. Can you not mix things up a bit here and there though? Well I say sure, why not. But in order to break any of the rules you have to be aware of them in the first place. That takes time. If you are an avid reader you might be able to shave some time off of your learning curve, although you probably still have to prefect your own voice.
Another reason for taking so long to find that magical agent or publisher? Learning how to query. This is your résumé. It needs to be professional and concise and I believe they should follow a standard format. VERY few query letters get through to the agents if the query breaks the rules. A query can have some quirk, but it needs to be professional.
A third reason is that the market just wasn’t ready for their story. It’s awful to say this, but sometimes you have to wait for the market to break into a need for a specific genre. Most agents will not wait for a hot market to accept a story, but they have to see a demand for a genre or the potential for one. You would want to sell snow in the middle of winter, but then again what if that winter is having a drought?
There are a million reasons why. You could spend all day finding them. The summary of everything though is patience and learn from others mistakes as well as your own. If you truly feel in your heart that you are meant to write it will happen…or so they say. Fingers crossed we are all moving in the forward direction.