The Unheralded Unpublished

This year, I served as the Contest Coordinator for The Rebecca, which was sponsored by Land of Enchantment Romance Authors. Writers entered NeverGiveUp (2)the first 5000 words of their unpublished manuscripts with the hope that they would score among the top three in their category. The prize? Avoid the slush pile and go straight to the desk of an acquiring editor at a major publishing house or a literary agent. I judged twenty of the 130 entries, and some of them blew me away. On several entries I wrote, “I love this. Please let me know when it’s published. I want to finish it!”

I know how difficult it is to get published. It takes more than talent. It takes a thick skin – an ability to believe in your work and simultaneously see the flaws. It takes sifting through good advice and bad and figuring out what works for you. For many, it requires juggling a job (or two) to pays the bills, family obligations, and writing time. It also takes luck or persistence or both.

So when I read these wonderful, unpublished manuscripts, I couldn’t help but worry that their talented authors would give up and I wouldn’t get to finish their stories. No one could blame them for relinquishing their dreams. This is a tough business and for all the work involved, relatively few writers earn a living wage from it, even after they’re published.

That makes my choices for “writers I admire” easy. They are all those talented, unpublished authors who will persevere to publication and become my new favorites. I can’t wait to read you. I know it’s a lot to ask, but in the words of the immortal Jason Nesmith, “Never give up. Never surrender.”


The Unheralded Unpublished — 15 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for your warmhearted response. Of course, my mss. wasn’t in the bunch, so you might not feel that way about mine. I was so elated when a small e-publisher wanted two of my books, I leapt right in. Now, I’ve published my own e-book, A Deadly Provenance, and am standing before a mountain entitled, Promotion. If I thought I wanted to give up before (long haul), I really do now. So your words were very timely. You hear so many comments like, most people who try to write, shouldn’t, which are so disheartening before you’ve published. Thanks!

  2. Joanna,
    I think promotion is the hardest part for most of us!
    Yes, we hear disheartening comments, even after we’re published. But seeing the wildly divergent scores in our contest puts a lot of those comments in perspective for me. What one judge loved, another hated. Certainly eye-opening and definitely something to keep in mind.

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  4. You put it so well. I know I for one struggled for years, with self-doubt and frustration, before I finally learned I was to be published. It’s wonderful to recognize those many still struggling writers. Kudos to you too!

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