Monday, December 6, 2010

Lucky Duck

Okay, so it's winter. Maybe that's why I've got my snark on. Or maybe it's because I've been writing in my super-sarcastic voice again. Or maybe...

Maybe it's because there are things in the publishing industry that aren't fair.

Maybe it's because luck plays a huge part in the journey from unagented to agented to acquired to published.

Maybe it's because luck is one of those things that we can't control. And so we flail and hope and cross our fingers and pray that we'll be on the right side of luck.

I don't want to discount the principle of hard work. I'm blogging about that later this week. But I firmly believe that luck is an important ingredient in the birth of a book. Let's examine.

You have to A) write a book someone wants. But you don't know what they want.

That takes luck.

You have to B) get that book you've worked really hard on in front of said person in A) at the right time. But you don't know what time that is.

That takes luck.

You have to C) get that polished MS in front of said person in A) before someone else out there subs a book that is similar. But you don't know when/if the others are subbing.

That takes luck.

So let's say you get lucky, and get an agent. (You've worked hard too. That's another post--so chillax.) Now comes the real luck-needing.

You now have to trust that your agent can get your book in front of someone who wants it at the right time (which you don't know and can't control) before another agent subs something (again, you don't know and can't control) similar.

Holy luck, Lucky Luck Man.

But that's not enough in publishing. Even if the editor loves it, they usually have to get a whole team of people behind the project too. Marketing people. Sales people. Publisher-type people. Higher-up editor people. And if you thought getting one person to say yes took luck, think how much it takes to get like, 10 to say yes.

Luck, luck, luck, luck, luck.

You needz it.

And just because you don't have an agent or a book deal doesn't mean you won't get one. You just have to keep at it until the luck gravitates to your side. It will. If you keep on keepin' on, if you work hard, it will.

It will. Trust me, it will.

What say you? How important is luck in publishing?

Oh, and if you're feeling lucky (or even if you're not), go check out Pam's blog! She's giving away POSSESSION!!

79 comments:

Emily White said...

Uh oh. I'm probably one of the UNluckiest people I know. :(

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'd call it timing more than anything.

Teresa aka JW said...

You're adorable!! And...you speak truth. :)

It's cold and dark here and I feel snarky too. Oh and it's Monday and I have a day job, if the dark would ever turn to day. Snarky!

T

Joanna St. James said...

well then, am off to steal a leprechaun or something, whatever we want to call it, i want it so yeah am a lucky duck in the making who has impeccable timing

Theresa Milstein said...

I guess all competitive fields take luck to break into. When I hear stats that agents read 10k manuscripts a year but take on 2 clients, it's pretty disheartening.

I'm headed over to the contest. Wish me luck!

Jemi Fraser said...

I think it was Stephen Leacock who said "I find the harder I work, the luckier I am" or something like that. I agree :)

Renae said...

Oh great! Hopefully my luck will change...just this once!

Natalie Aguirre said...

I think what you've said is true. It does take hard work to get published but also luck to find an agent/publisher at the right moment when they'll love your book.

Laura Pauling said...

Right mood. Right time. Right story. Right agent...etc. Timing plays a role, for sure.

Trisha Wolfe said...

Never really thought about it that way, when you do, it's kinda a bummer =( But, still going to press my luck and keep on keeping on =D Off to try and win me a book! Thanks!

Jen Daiker said...

Hmm, Luck. Not something I am particularly good at getting, however I do feel I've gotten the best of luck two weeks ago, so I'm going to run with that. I guess there is such thing as luck, but hardwork is often tied into it!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Wow, what a depressing post. ;)

Ellen Hopkins told us at the LA SCBWI conference last year that it's about Luck, Talent, and Perseverance. But each come in varying degree according to the author. Obviously not being a huge Stephanie Meyer's fan, she said Twilight was based mostly on luck.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Believe it or not, this post actually makes me feel better - like I don't suck, I'm just unlucky. (Okay, and a little lazy - which is a comment for another post.) Thanks, Elana. =o)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

There's only so much one can control. But if we don't do everything we CAN, then nothing will happen!

E.J. Wesley said...

“I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” - Thomas Jefferson

That sums up my view of luck perfectly. It's important, but you can create more of it. I guess I believe in luck, but not coincidence, if that makes any sense?

Paul Greci said...

I think the harder you work the more chance you have of getting lucky. That said, there are still no guarantees.

Erinn said...

I think luck is very important, which is why I often consult a voodoo priest in my neighborhood to help me out.
Totally kidding about the voodoo.

But yeah, luck is a big part of it. Which is why you need to keep writing and increase your changes.

No retreat no surrender.

lynnrush said...

I'm not one who is huge on luck. I'm more of one to lean toward timing. I call it a God thing. Some call it Fate. . . destiny. . . but whichever, I think all things happen for a reason. That includes the waiting part of the publishing industry along with the holy-crap-I-got-a-deal parts. :) Thanks for this post. Hope you have a great day!

Angela Felsted said...

Ooooh, POSSESION, now I'm motivated to check out Pam's blog. Luck, yes, I wish we all had good luck all the time.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

Quick where is that luck rabbit's foot?

I agree. That or a needle in a haystack. Hey, we all keep trying anyways!!!!

storyqueen said...

It's luck and persistence. But you have to persist long enough for luck to find you....because luck is kind of slow.

Great post!

Shelley

VR Barkowski said...

This is such an important post. Luck (or timing, if one prefers to believe they have some control over the process) is the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about - it's HUGE. It doesn't negate hard work by any means, it just means playing the odds until you hit the jackpot. If you don't play, you can't win.

Jodi Henry said...

Thanks for the words of encouragment.

Luck is out there, we just have to be persistent.

J

Em-Musing said...

I once blogged about a duck that kept crossing the road until one day he got hit. I thought it was sad. Now you're telling me he got lucky?

Josh Hoyt said...

Luck definitely has a lot to do with it. And not only luck but knowing the right people. Its all a huge game trying to get to know people then writing and then the luck part. The nice thing about it though is that if we play our cards right and the stars align just so (luck) then we have a chance.

Liza said...

I guess too, that luck needs to partner with a little faith...

Jen Chandler said...

Call it luck, Karma, or destiny, it's all about timing.

I love how you ended this post. That if we keep on keeping on it will happen.

I needed that.

Thanks.
~Jen

Kelly Bryson said...

Sigh. I don't like that large pieces of getting published are out of my hands, but I know it is so. I'm going to be extra-good for the next year or so;) Santa will come through for me, I just know it.

Christina Lee said...

I like how someone said (maybe Oprah?) Perseverance + Opportunity = LUCK. I'm taking that and running with it!

Matthew Rush said...

Uh oh. I need to re-roll my character attributes then.

Tina Lynn said...

As scary as it is, I think you are 100% correct.

Claire Dawn said...

Success = Talent + Work + Luck.

There's no denying it. We all know a B-list actor who's just as good as the A-listers. Or a small-town band that can play your socks off.

The reason they're not on the cover of People? Luck.

Amanda said...

My daughter had a poster above her bed for years that read: Luck Follows The Persistent. I totally believe that. When I signed with my agent and my book found the right editor, I whole-heartedly believed that the planets had aligned.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Holy Dogdoodles, this was depressing. But only because I am seriously unlucky when it comes to things like timing and randomness. I am the person you don't want on your lottery syndicate.

Fortunately, hard work plays a role, too, as does skill. Thank goodness for that!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I'd say you nailed it on the luck stuff, Elana. It's a vital piece of the puzzle. I have to go now, I want that copy of Possession!! :-)

Meredith said...

Yep, I think luck is definitely needed. And hard work. And some amount of talent, I guess. Or even more hard work :)

Lisa_Gibson said...

Whew, okay dude I had to get back over here from Pam's blog.
I think luck definitely does play a role in the whole journey to be published. How big a role, not totally sure. I think you have great points though. I'll watch for the one on hard-work too. :) Have a great day, full of luck!
Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

Sara B. Larson said...

I totally agree, sad as the truth is. Luck is a huge part of it, because timing is a huge part of it--and no one can know for sure what the right timing is. You just have to keep working and trying and eventually something will luck out to be the right timing. Right? (how's that for a lot of word repetition?!?)

Write Chick said...

I agree with you 100%. Luck does seem to play a huge part in getting a book published. However, I do think that you increase your luck the harder you work. The more times you put your stuff out there, the more chances there are for the luck to hit, right? Right? I hope I'm right.

Pam Torres said...

I am all for soaking up good vibes (luck) from successful people. Thanks for listing my contest! I'm a Pacific time blogger. Translation: My blog posted late. I keep forgetting that most of the world is already blogging away by the time morning gets here. Blerg!

LTM said...

luck + all that other stuff... skill, good ideas, knowing people, etc.

but you're a lucky duck, yes? :o) <3

Christine Fonseca said...

Luck, timing...whatever it is, it's the part I wrestle with the most.

lotusgirl said...

There are so many things we can control. If we work those the best we can we have a much higher percentage of being lucky.

Colene Murphy said...

blark. That was my heart stopping. You're right and that is such a SCARY thought!

Can I rub your lucky head? Get a lucky hug one day? Does luck rub off? like pixie dust?

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

So sad but so true. I've never been a particularly lucky problem, so here's hoping my dogged determination, refusal to give up, and thick skin to survive heartbreak will get me through until the timing finally lines up. Oh, and that hard work thing. Sigh. :)

Beautiful post, E!

ali said...

Well, since I work dang hard and I still don't have an agent, I'm gonna say LUCK is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

WindyA said...

i think it's about 75% luck and 25% hard work and talent. but that depends on the day of the week also.

Kristen Knight said...

AMEN! To everything you said.

Valerie Ipson said...

Seriously.

(Are we crazy or what, to leave so much up to LUCK?)

Lydia Kang said...

It bothers me so much, the luck factor (mostly when I don't have it). But what can we do but do our homework and hope that all those things you mentioned work in our favor?

L.T. Elliot said...

So you're tempting me to hate the word "luck." And maybe "duck," because you never really can trust a duck. ;P

Seriously great post, Elana. I think an important part to remember is that even luck can't be on your side unless you're willing to roll the dice in the first place.

Jessica Hill said...

I completely agree. Luck plays SUCH a major role in publishing.

Which, for a notoriously unlucky person like me, is disheartening. It's really kind of terrifying to think about!

Susan R. Mills said...

I agree--luck plays a huge part in our journey. But if we aren't working hard, then we really aren't going to be there when the luck finally lands on our side.

The Golden Eagle said...

Luck . . . it's a frightening idea.

Krispy said...

Very true, and it helps to realize this when you're feeling down and helpless. Sometimes it's not anything you have power over.

Margo Gremmler said...

I really can't say just yet, since I'm still prepping my heart out for a kick-a** query run. But I already feel pretty lucky, since I've met such a great community of writers online (and IRL – "in real life" – as the kids say).

"Holy luck, Lucky Luck Man."
Lol, Elana. :)

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I've never had good luck... hopefully it starts coming my way and will meet up with all the hard work I've put in!

Dominique said...

Yeah, luck is sort of the unfortunate obligatory x-factor in life. c'est la vie.

Loving the layout, by the by.

Donea Lee said...

What's that saying? "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all." That's me to a tee! So, basically what you're saying is...I'm screw-ed? :)

Lol at Matthew's comment (D&D, right?) I wish it were that easy... but, I'll try that little perseverence thing and hope something changes.... dare I say, "Wish me luck!"

Nicole Zoltack said...

Guess who's going out to get a lucky rabbit's foot? ;)

Janet Johnson said...

This is so funny . . . I have a post on luck all written up for Wed. I may just have to reference this.

I better build me some luck, baby!

Holly Ruggiero said...

I don’t know so I’ll take your word for it so when I’m ready to start looking I’ll search out a four-leafed clover.

Marsha Sigman said...

Awesome post! I totally agree. I am due some good luck...my mom even said so.lol

IanBontems said...

I so needz it. I think you're right, Elana. There seems to be so much of the process that is out of an author's control. We all need a bit of luck.

Patti said...

What does Oprah say? Luck is when hard work meets opportunity.

Jeff King said...

It plays a huge part, in my mind. Its like being in the right place right time.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

It's definitely an ingredient, I think. But if you don't have the hard work already in place, then luck won't find you, I don't think.

Carol Riggs said...

Luck is 200% necessary along with a solid ms. At any stage of the game. Natalie Whipple's recent blog on losing not only her agent (Nathan B) but her ms chances at an editorial meeting is a good example of that. Ouch!

Also, members of my Oregon SCBWI had contracts with Random House, with Abigail Samoun as their editor--and those deals fell through when her imprint was closed down. Double ouch! Bad luck can prevail, even that far up the "I'm almost published" ladder.

Karen said...

Your post just gave me anxiety! ;)

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. If it's meant to happen, events will take place to allow the event to occur.

erica and christy said...

I've always taken a little solice in your posts about your querying nightmares. And hope in your persistance.

It's ABNA season again. My luck be with me!!
erica

erica and christy said...

Good grief, luck obviously WASN'T with me five minutes ago.

MAY it be with me in the future!
erica

Jennifer Hoffine said...

“The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.”
John Steinbeck

Publishing is so much about luck. Even so, the more you keep writing and submitting, the more chances you have that luck will find it's way to you.

Heather said...

Is there a luck dance that I can do?! ;)

Elana Johnson said...

Dude, you guys are going to find all the luck you need. I just know it. Rabbit's foot, hard work, whatever. You'll find it. Or rather, IT will find YOU.

*hugs*

Misha said...

Luck is so important. Especially when one considers the subjective nature of the business...

Good post.

:-)

Amie B said...

i say that kinda sucks. and what kinda sucks worse is that it's true.

and don't forget the LUCK of writing a book that's marketable....but you can't follow a trend either because by the time you've completed your trendy book, said trend is long over.

so yeah, it kinda sucks.

and yet....we do this to ourselves...over and over again.

Megan said...

I used to work in publishing, and you are right. Luck does play a big part in getting a book pubbed. Even if the editor likes it, she/he still has to sell it to the higher ups who have to believe it can make enough money to be worth their time. And all of this relies on the market happening to trend in the direction of your book which you started before the trend was trending.
But it isn't all luck. If you have taken the time to write a stellar book and done your research to figure out the best fits for your book, that'll help you out too.
Even when a book wasn't right for my publishing house at a particular time, if we believed in the book, we recommended other places that were more likely to snatch it up. Sometimes even a rejection can be a good thing.

Nichole Giles said...

Yes, this is true. But can I just add that luck comes around faster to those who persistently try to find it?

Not that I'd know, but still.

Solvang Sherrie said...

Yup, it takes that combination of hard work, perseverance and luck, lots of luck.

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