Friday, September 18, 2009


picture1 I’m going to take a walk on the wild side this Friday morning. Here we go: what role does luck have in getting published?

This is something of a controversial topic. I’ve heard it said that mentioning the role that luck plays in getting a publishing contract is discouraging to writers who are working their fingers to the bone honing their skills and making the perfect queries to the perfect agents and editors. After all, if it’s just a matter of luck, it’s out of our hands. (My missionary brother in law would question even the existence of ‘luck.’ But I don’t want to go even farther into the wild side and delve into religion this morning!)

There are many talented writers who research the industry. They’re miles ahead of the people who slop together a poorly-crafted, rambling, error-ridden manuscript and snail-mail it to a YA publisher (when they needed a Sci-Fi publisher).

But what about all the gifted writers out there who are doing everything right?

I think luck plays a part. I think my unrequested manuscript landed on Midnight Ink’s desk at exactly the right time…accidentally.

Talent is important. Self-editing is important. Researching the industry’s expectations on submissions is important. Targeting the right agents and editors is important.

Timing is important. And that’s out of our hands.

To me, that means perseverance is key. If writers keep sending out well-written, well-targeted submissions, they increase the chances their work gets into the right hands at the right time.

I got a ton of rejections from agents and editors. But I kept submitting, sometimes to the same people—after I’d done more touching up on the manuscript and if they’d given me even an inkling of encouragement. Actually, I don’t think I even needed encouragement. I resubmitted anyway, after a decent interval, some significant changes in the manuscript, and a reworked submission.

What do you think? How important is luck? How can writers increase their chances at getting lucky?