Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Making the Leap

It was almost exactly three years ago today that Laura and I decided to pursue our dream of becoming published writers. We knew next to nothing about how to write a decent novel, and less than nothing about the crazy mixed-up world of publishing. Like so many newbie writers, we thought we had the most genius, completely unique idea for a young adult novel EVER. In fact, we were sure that if we told anyone about our manuscript or showed our writing to another writer they would STEAL OUR IDEA. Yes, it was THAT good.

Uh, newsflash our idea and our writing sucked ass.

Serious ass.

But it took us a lot of months to figure that out and in order to get from point A to point B we had to take some risks.

Risks like sending our manuscript to beta readers (those poor, wretched souls), posting our query on writing forums like AbsoluteWrite and QueryTracker for feedback, entering first line contests on Nathan Bransford's blog and Secret Agent contests on Miss Snark's First Victim's blog. It wasn't easy to take these risks, but we did our research and we used blogs like Writer's Beware and Query Tracker to educate ourselves on what risks were worth taking.

Because here's the thing: If you don't take a risk and put yourself out there, chances are you'll never, ever get published.


There's not an author out there who got published without sending someone their manuscript. Whether it be a fellow writer, an editor, or an agent. If you want your book to be published you have to put it out there sometime. You have to take that risk.

Look, we get that writers have to protect themselves. We've heard the horror stories about dodgy agents and irreputable publishers. And we encourage every writer to do a lot of research before they decide how they're going to put their writing out into the world and who they're going to trust with their words. Because it's a HUGE deal.

But when an opportunity comes along involving reputable publishing professionals and well respected agents or if a random girl on a message board offers to read your manuscript after she ripped apart your query, do yourself (and your writing) a favor and TAKE A CHANCE.

It's called calculated risk. It reminds me a little bit of watching my daughter race my son to our car after a rainstorm. She'll stand in front of a puddle for a second and decide whether or not she can make it over. She's terrified of getting soaked, but she knows she's only going to win if she takes the leap. So she jumps. Sometimes she splashes mud everywhere and cries. But most of the time she makes it. And wins.


Matthew MacNish said...

People were actually worried someone was going to jack their first 500 words?

Give me a break.

No one is that good that it would actually be worth stealing. Besides, openings may be important, but they don't make a book all by themselves.

Come on people. This is LiLa we're talking about.

Katie Anderson said...

Amen, Matthew!

And I loved that last puddle part. Precious.

P.S. My old lady eyes can't read this tiny font you're using. What up?

Loretta Nyhan said...

It makes me crazy that people have become so paranoid they've thrown common sense out the window.

The contest is a good one, and a wonderful opportunity for writers.

Christa said...

Sniff. Sniff. I love when you girls go all cheerleader on me. I feel like I walked into that one scene in "Bring It On" when Kirsten Dunst convinces everyone to make up their OWN cheer. I love you all.

Jemi Fraser said...

Taking risks is a big part of it all. I'm a bit of a coward - but I'm getting better :)

Yat-Yee said...

I read somewhere that taking risks is actually one major indicator of how happy/fulfilled a person feels. I guess taking risks and taking all possible outcomes of these risks show or develop a person's resilience and security.

Kudos for putting yourselves out there. I was browsing at a giant B&N the other day and saw your book. Just thought you may like to know that. If I were published, I think I'd never tire of hearing my book being seen.

Sera Rivers said...

Taking risks is the only way to be successful at writing... So scary but so worth it! Thanks for this post :)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I'm still stuck on the fact it was just three years ago you ladies started. That's like warp speed to publication. Only you two could pull it off. xo

Michael Di Gesu said...

Like you girls, I thought the same way in the beginning... But now. I put my writing out there ALL THTE TIME.

I'm not published yet, but I am hoping to have something by the end of this year. I have a bit of interest in my latest novel.... Keep your fingers crossed for me....

Krispy said...

I was just thinking about writing a blog post on being brave, but never mind! You beat me to it, and I love your post! :) Thanks for this! Needed the pep talk today.

Tess said...


you gotta put your neck out.

emery said...

SO strange that you posted this today. i told my husband earlier that we're too young to play life as safe as we do. with money, with jobs, with whatever...isn't now the time to take risks?!

then he looked at me and said, "what do you call querying?" exactly my point, hub. it worked out.

Steph said...

LOVE this. Perfection.

Laura Pauling said...

Awesome LiLa! PErfect way to say it. Are you guys writers or something?

Kristin said...

Love it! Now to find polka-dot Wellies. I might as well look cute while leaping, right?