I’m always amazed at what some writers manage to slip into their pitches. Over the weekend, a writer asked if I would be interested in looking at a friend’s fiction manuscript.  In the brief email, she mentioned that the novel started slow (took a bit to get into the plot), was self published and needed some editorial help, and was a bit long. I’m sure this writer was being honest with her information about this friend’s work but it certainly didn’t score any points to encourage me to read it.   I consider almost anything (as least for a few seconds) as a fiction acquisitions editor.  I wrote a short email encouraging the submission—but some of my expectations have already been set from the pitch. This writer could have used some self-investment—before she self-published her book.

Many people have dreams and aspirations to publish a nonfiction book or a novel.  Are these people willing to do the self-investment to achieve those dreams? I find many writers lack self-investment.  This weekend I was reading the journey to publication for Austin Boyd. His first novel, The Evidence, released this month from NavPress. Boyd wrote about his experience on his website. For eight years, Boyd read books and articles about how to write a great novel. He mentioned reading nearly 30 Writer’s Digest books about novel writing.The Evidence cover

In addition to studying the craft of writing and working hard at a quality novel, Boyd made an additional investment. He hired a freelance editor for a developmental edit. From his story, you will notice Boyd sent through this process several times and involved paying someone else and 15 months of hard work. Then Boyd worked with a professional to develop a query letter and book proposal which was sent to 50 editors and 50 publishers. When the publishers rejected the submission, he concentrated on finding a literary agent. Notice Boyd’s persistence and perseverance in this process.

After six more months, Boyd signed with an agent. This agent advised Boyd to attend a writer’s conference and recommended two forthcoming conferences.  This conference was another self-investment step and a great career move because of the new relationships Boyd formed at the conference.

We live in this instant society where people want instant everything—including a published book.  Often these individuals don’t make the necessary self-investment to follow the two common themes Boyd mentioned: produce quality work and sell what the editor is buying.  This need for self-gratification leads many writers to self-publish before their work is ready for public consumption. Then they are disappointed with the lack of interest and results.

Where are you on the journey to publication? Are you making that self-investment to grow as a writer? Take some action steps today and tomorrow. I’m convinced it will pay off in the long run.

4 Responses to “Self-Investment”

  1. Bill Says:

    Reading this post reminded me of the award winning musician who said something like: It only took me twenty years to become an overnight success!

    Personally, I’ve invested much time and effort in an attempt to sharpen my writing skills. I’ve read as many books Austin Boyd, even attended seminars and workshops. I have oodles of ideas for novels, along with several nonfiction works sketched out in reasonably complete detail. I just can’t seem to push through the learning process and become fully engaged in the writing process.

    Do you have any suggestions?


  2. Cathy West Says:

    What comes first – the publisher or the agent?
    I’ve heard that it’s the publisher – if you can get published, then you can get an agent. But some publishers won’t look at unsolicited manuscripts! Or even queries…sigh….
    I can certainly see why self-publishing has become such big business. I am still debating whether to do that with Just A Little Walk.
    Praying for discernment.

  3. Terry Whalin Says:

    Hello BW,

    I’ve been around the writing field for many years and I’ve learned–it’s not for everyone. Not every person has to become a writer–nor can they become a writer. Maybe you need to find a good collaborator or co-author or even a ghostwriter who can take your ideas and craft them into books. It’s something else to explore.


  4. Austin Boyd Says:

    My thanks to Terry for his succinct summary of my journey to publication and the important message that self-investment is critical. Listen to Terry! He’s on target… bull’s eye.

    I am in my second novel now and I will spend 15% of the advance (before tax and agent) to get additional editorial support, print copies for additional reviewers, and postage. But in that investment I’ve gotten loads of valuable constructive insight to make the next book better than the first.

    If you are struggling with getting started, I have found great discipline in the method of setting a daily writing goal… words per day, not hours. I shoot for 1000 words, no matter how long it takes, and 7,000 a week. In 100 days you have a rough draft manuscript. It works. Like working out, a daily routine helps beat the ‘writer’s block’ dilemma.

    Thanks for the great insights, Terry. Your proposal guidance book was a great support to my selling The Evidence.


    Austin Boyd

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