This year, I served as the Contest Coordinator for The Rebecca, which was sponsored by Land of Enchantment Romance Authors. Writers entered the first 5000 words of their unpublished manuscripts with the hope that they would score among the top three in their category.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So when I read these wonderful, unpublished manuscripts, I couldn’t help but worry that their talented authors would give up and I wouldn’t get to finish their stories.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 They are all those talented, unpublished authors who will persevere to publication and become my new favorites.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.”