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writing 101

Just Keep Pitching (Day 31)

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When my husband graduated from high school, he was not ready for his baseball career to be over. He went to a small JuCo a few hours from our hometown and tried to walk on. He ran. He hit. He pitched. For weeks, he worked out in hopes that they would allow him to walk on. Finally the day came for them to announce their team—they posted the 25-man roster, and he wasn’t on it. They told him he didn’t make the team, but if he would keep coming to practice, there was a chance to earn a spot. He was devastated.

But, he went back.

And he ran.

He hit some more.

And he pitched and threw batting practice like he was playing the most important game of his career.

And the coaches noticed.

And in a week, he had a uniform. Later, the assistant coach, who is now the head coach at Texas Tech, told him that he felt the head coach cut him as a test to see if he would press through. My husband worked his way to a new team after that, Tyler Junior College. The coach there had noticed him at Hill, and offered him scholarship money if he would transfer and play for them. He had a very successful year at TJC as one of their pitchers, when the coaching staff at The University of Houston noticed him. They offered him a substantial scholarship to come pitch for them, so he transferred there to finish up his degree. My husband led his team in wins at U of H, and went on to help his team win a Conference USA Championship.

When you work hard, eventually heads will turn. When you keep trying, eventually an agent will notice your perseverance. Sometimes it’s a series of baby steps that lead up to your securing an agent, but it’s ALWAYS about hard work. Pitching at The University of Houston was one of the best times of my husband’s life. He is a baseball coach today, and I wonder what life would’ve looked like had he looked those coaches in the eye and gotten hurt, angry, bitter, or so frustrated that he decided not to pick up a baseball ever again.

It happens—I promise this happens every single day.

Maybe you have queried 20 agents, sat in front of them nervously, recited 20 awesome elevator pitches, and struck out every time—find ten more agents to query. Maybe you’ve attended writers’ conferences for 20 years and you are a regular, but still, you have no agent—stay the course. Stay a regular. Keep pitching. Eventually, the right agent will notice. Just keep pitching—your time will come.

Thank you to everyone that has followed along on our 31 day journey. This was really fun, and I hope you feel educated and encouraged to go out there and snag yourself the agent of your dreams. If you’ve enjoyed our series I would love for you to share it with your friends. And I’d be honored if you’d sign up for my email list and stick with me at my place beneath the pines.

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This series is part of the #Write31Days challenge. To read all the posts in this series click here.

 

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Be Persistent with Reminders
(Day 24)

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The reality for most agents, is that we’re extremely busy and we don’t have assistants to help us sift through our work. I can dole out many tasks, but nobody can review manuscripts for me. I can’t afford that, and honestly, I don’t trust anyone to do that type of work for me. So, I need you to be persistent with my inbox. No, I don’t want anyone to harass me, but if you are waiting on me, and I haven’t responded, please be persistent in reminding me that you are in my stack.

I hope that doesn’t anger anyone to hear that I need that kind of reminding, but I just do. If you will send me a “just checking in, I’ve submitted X manuscript to you” about every 60-90 days, then that is what I want. Agents have to be this way to publishers, and so these “kind reminders” are really a part of the business. I’m not offended by your checking in, it helps me to keep people in line mentally and helps me keep my calendar going. If you are looking for an agent, and specifically have been waiting a long time, don’t be afraid to be persistent and remind them of who you are and what you’ve submitted.

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This series is part of the #Write31Days challenge. To read all the posts in this series click here.

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(Day 24)

Be Proactive About Growing Your Platform (Day 14)

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I can hear you all sighing from here. Behold, I’ve said it—the dreaded “P” word—PLATFORM. Wipe the sweat from your brow, and the frown from your face, this is the only thing you can do:

Be proactive about growing your platform. 

It’s true that I need authors to have a solid platform in order to sell them to publishers. Platform size does affect your ability to get a good book deal, but it’s not the only determining factor. Great writing, how unique your book idea is, your voice/style, are also extremely important. On this side of the table, I have seen authors with various size platforms get quality book deals. Yes, the big platform writers get larger advances, but I’ve sold a few people with little to no platform to their name. Now, when I’ve sold someone with a “small” platform in the past, it was because their story was not small. Sometimes, BIG story can get away with SMALL platform. Big stories are often related to how “unique” your story is. I mentioned Anna a few days ago. How many people have 50 brothers and sisters and ran away from a polygamist cult at age 13? Not many. This is what I call big story.

As an agent, of course it’s nice to find the writer who has it all: large platform, amazing story, and superior writing. But, these combinations can be rare. If you don’t have a huge platform, then I need you to be teachable and strategic with the platform you have. I can teach people how to grow their platforms. When I find authors who are constantly tweaking and trying new things to build their readership, that is a sign of someone who will have a long career. Because honestly, being proactive, is all you can do. You can’t make yourself go viral or we all would. You can simply keep writing content and keep moving forward. So, quit beating yourself up over the “P” word, learn your craft, be proactive, and eventually an agent will notice your hard work.

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This series is part of the #Write31Days challenge. To read all the posts in this series click here.

 

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