The Ripple Effect
Recently there has been a lot of talk about self publishing. Although I do believe it is wonderful to be able to publish what we want when we want, we must be certain that our reasons for publishing are valid and compatible with this means. Why are we publishing? If the answer is because we want to make truck loads of money or become a famous well read author than I am afraid that self publishing is by no means the way to go.
You see, self publishing, vanity publishing or partnership publishing are rarely going to give a writer incredible results as far as money and fame go. However, if the writer really has something important to say; it is a wonderful way to help others. Often as we move away from the traditional route we can really lose track of what it takes to become a well read author.
Many times it is the literary agent who acts as a filter. A good agent will be totally honest with a writer about their work. The best agents will encourage a want to be author to continue working at their craft. Ten thousand hours is roughly the amount of exercise required to reach the optimal condition in any profession. Persistence is the key. The more we work at the things we are passionate about the better we become at being passionate beings that are ready to be all that we are created to be.
I think the first step in the life of any writer, preacher, teacher or any other professional is to get the Ego right out of their way. Protecting our ego only serves to hinder our growth and halt our progress in the field of choice. Let’s get things straight; we are never the best we can be right out of the gate. Being fantastic at anything takes initiative, persistence and passion. We must understand that we always have more to learn.
I called literary agents filters. They are just that and the big time publishers know this well. In fact, they count on them to present them with the best of the best. If an agent continually pushes through inferior work he/she will find themselves pushing at closed doors sooner than they would like. You see, they will lose the respect of the publishers who get hundreds of manuscript per week and have little time to read works that just are not up to par.
I understand the temptation that exists within the mind of a would be author to just tear off the bandage fast and submit their manuscript, but I highly recommend holding off submitting anything until the work is as good as it will get. By the way, literary agents and publisher do not want completed manuscripts; they are looking for a book proposal. If you don’t know what that is I strongly recommend that you Google it as soon as your done reading this essay. Please, do not send a complete manuscript. A good agent will generally receive about one hundred of these per week and have little chance to look at them even if they chose to.
I am very surprised that with the newest surge of self publishing companies out there that nobody has mentioned that one of a literary agent’s top priorities is to protect a writer from being read before their time. In my position I have had the misfortune of reading some self published works that have made this the most obvious purpose in any agent’s career. There are a lot of potentially great authors out there today. People with wonderful imaginations and enlightened souls, but they just are not ready to be read and it is a cold hard fact that they never will be read again by me. When an agent tells us no it is to protect us from damaging our name or our brand. Brand image is the most important thing in publishing and for that matter in just about anything else. If a writer is serious about having a career as an author I highly recommend working at their craft until they get to the point where they can acquire a good agent.
Just think about it for a minute. How many times have we gone to a terrible restaurant and rushed back to try another meal? I would say rare to never. Why would we? What we expect is the same slop we got the first time and we are not going to spend our hard earned money on that again. If we went to see a movie by a certain director and it stunk up the theatre we would be very hesitant to ever see another one by the same director. This is why it is crucial for actors and directors to carefully evaluate any script before they agree to participate. The future of their careers depends on it!
We would not want to eat a cake before the timer sounds telling us it is finished. I am not interested in dealing with anything that is half done and neither is the rest of the world. Many times a new writer’s work is just that. It takes time to create something worth reading. The process takes perseverance, practice and passion.
Recently, I was driving my son to basketball practice and a conversation arose that touched on this very thing. Lately I have come to have an awful lot on my plate. With two books coming out at about the same time, book reviews needing to get finished and several other projects in the mix; I was tempted to just send the publisher my proof approval for the paperback edition of “The Secret of Divine Intervention.” I’ve gone through the manuscript a handful of times already and figured that it had to be good enough.
While looking at my son I began to realize that an opportunity had arose to discuss what “good enough” really is. Is my book really good enough for my present readers and those who have never sampled my work in the past? Was I willing to rush this wonderful work to the public just for the sake of making it available right away? The answer came to me with a resounding “no!” The most important thing is to make it as good as it can be. Every extra hour I spend proofing and editing will contribute directly to making it better than the last.
I explained to my son that it is the same with anything else we strive to be great at. We must put our heart, soul and spirit into whatever is our passion if we expect to excel at it. Good enough is never the same thing twice. Every time we do something we get better at it. This applies to anything and everything in our lives. If we choose to put all our energy into it we will improve. Half baked will never render a gourmet meal!
He knew exactly what I was talking about. Being passionate about basketball has given him a drive to constantly improve. Putting his ego away has allowed him to appreciate those who have achieved higher levels of advancement and has given him the initiative to try harder, practice more and work harder. Passion is bringing his game to a whole new level every time he plays. As his dad it is always nice to hear the other parents yelling shouts of encouragement to him from the stands, yet when I asked him if he could hear them yelling “Go Jordan!” he answered, “No dad. I’m too busy focusing on the game.”
The important thing for us to understand is that we are only limited by what we think is impossible, the sacrifices we are willing to make and the price we are willing to pay to truly be the best that we are created to be. As we come to agreement with ourselves the Universe has no choice but to comply, but if we step out on Ego ahead of our time we will barely make a splash.
You see, when we are prepared and ready to be the best we can be we will make a huge splash! We will have become a huge rock thrown into a large pond. The ripples will go out from the center and touch many people, places and things. We will definitely make some waves. However, if we throw ourselves as a pebble into a big pond very few will experience our talents, abilities and skills. The pebble will be swallowed up and its ripples will quickly fade away.