Friday, July 22, 2016

Why You Won’t Submit Your Writing After a Conference

By Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

You attended a writers conference recently and met with industry professionals. You pitched a book, an article, or a blog post, and someone said the words you hoped to hear, “Yes! Send it to me.”

Yet 70 percent of you won’t submit it.

This surprising statistic is why most wanna-be writers won’t make it. Not because they’re not good enough, but because they won’t try. And try. And try again.

One of the first mantras I learned as a child was, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” I had no idea my parents were preparing me for a writer’s life, but this adage has proven to be one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever applied to my writing career.

As the editor of a regional magazine, I often meet with writers, either formally at writers’ conferences, or informally through mutual friends. When they share their writing with me, I respond in a variety of ways. I may offer a critique, including ideas for how they can improve. I may suggest a suitable publication to pitch to. Or I may invite them to formally submit their piece to me.

Some do, and some don’t.

As unfortunate as this is, I understand why, because I didn’t submit my work the first time a professional asked me to, either.

I believe there are at least three reasons why writers don’t submit their work when an editor, agent, or publisher invites them to:

1. We think they’re just being nice. I had the opportunity to propose a book idea to a publisher at my very first writers’ conference.

“Do you think this might be a book possibility?” I asked, after I described my project.

“Maybe,” he said. “Send me some samples.”

I went home from the conference and did absolutely nothing. I dismissed his request as a kind attempt to encourage a fledgling writer, not a serious offer. Now that I’m a magazine editor, I know the truth—editors and publishers are far too busy to request material they don’t think has potential. There are many ways to encourage writers whose work isn’t quite ready for publication, but asking for submissions isn’t one of them.

We don't truly believe in our work. 
2. We don’t truly believe in our work. When I thought about sending the samples the publisher had invited me to submit, naysaying voices started whispering in my ears. Why would anyone want to read what you’ve written? You’re not a professional writer. What if he reads it and thinks it’s a piece of junk? What if you get your hopes up and he rejects it? What if you waste all that time and have nothing to show for it?

I let my insecurities and fears keep me from seizing an opportunity to share my writing with others. Instead of giving my writing a chance to succeed, I doomed my writing to fail.

3. I didn’t believe God had a plan for my writing. Before I left for the conference, I had prayed, “Lord, I have no abilities apart from the ones you’ve given me. Open the doors you want me to walk through and close the doors you want shut. Connect me with those who can help me grow as a writer. Fulfill your good plan for me, and use my writing to encourage others.”

When I dismissed the publisher’s offer to submit, however, what I said in essence was, “Lord, the abilities you’ve given me aren’t enough. I don’t believe you really answered my prayer for open doors, and I don’t believe this opportunity came from you—even though I asked you for it. I don’t believe you can use this experience to help me grow as a writer, nor can you use my writing to help others.”

We’d never dream of saying something like this to God, but this is exactly what our actions communicate when we fail to walk through open doors of opportunity.

Thankfully, months later, when I mentioned the invitation I’d ignored, seasoned writer friends grabbed me by the collar and shook me. Their collective horror that I’d rejected such an offer, paired with their assurances that professionals don’t ask for submissions unless they’re serious lit a fire under me. My first devotional book, Joy in the Journey – Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms, was the result.

The takeaway? Don’t be part of the 70 percent who don’t succeed because they don’t try. Be part of the 30 percent  who try, try, and try again.

Have you ever ignored an opportunity to submit your work? I’d love to hear why. Or maybe you’ve struggled with another step in the writing journey. Leave a comment below and join the conversation.

TWEETABLE

Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and the author of two devotional books, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women and  Joy in the Journey – Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms. A blogger, writing instructor, and women’s ministry speaker, her goal is to help women connect with God in the craziness of life You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).

22 comments:

  1. Guilty as described! I need to get myself in gear and submit to those who extended the offer. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Good for you, Sharron. Go for it!

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  2. Yes, I was guilty after my first conference, too. But the next year I went back to Blue Ridge and promised my husband, myself, and the Lord that I would follow through on the opportunities He put in my path. That was the beginning of my writing career. God is so good, but He won't force His will on our lives or wave a magic wand to make things happen. We have to do the work of a writer in order to be a writer!

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    1. Amen, Vonda, you're absolutely right, but he will bless the work of our hands.

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  3. I was guilty of being part of the 70% but now I want to be part of the 30% who try try again and submit.

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    1. Yay, Theresa, I'm proud of you. The first step is the hardest, but you can do it. I pray God's blessings on your effort.

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  4. Lori, thank you for this post! I needed the encouragement that editors don't ask for you to submit something unless they're serious about looking at it. I've listened to that voice saying, "they're just being nice." Thanks for spurring us on!

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    1. It's true Crickett -- they are waaaaay too busy to waste your time or theirs. Go for it!

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  5. thank you for your post, Lori! i spent way too many years doubting myself (as a whole, not just my writing—i wasn't even writing yet!!!) and i'm not wasting any more time! i'm blasting full steam ahead with what Father has for me! watch out world!!!

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    1. Yes! I can't wait to see what the Lord is going to do with your fully-surrendered self (and writing). Yay, Robin!

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  6. Thank you, Lori. This is just what I needed to hear to keep moving forward on my book proposal. I don't want to land in the 70% who don't submit. Your words of encouragement not only help me in my writing journey, but also in life in general.

    #3 really hit home. How many times have I asked God to open doors and then don't walk through when He does. I will be on my toes for those opportunities in the future and trust God. He knows what He is doing. Blessings to you!

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    1. I agree, Sheryl, aren't we silly? We pray with all our hearts for God to move, and then when he does, we look around and say, "Did he really do that? Surely not . . . I must have misunderstood . . ." Oh we of little faith. May God give us eyes to see everything he has prepared for us to do and be for his good pleasure. Blessings on you and your writing.

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  7. Thank you. I was asked to submit a book proposal to an agent at BRMCWC in May. I explained that I had learned so much from the conference that I wanted to tweak it a little before I sent it to him.
    I have rewritten it three times and it's still not ready to send. I am thinking about starting over. This is my first book and I don't have a platform. I am deadly serious which may be translated boring.

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    1. One thing I appreciate about agents, Jean, is that they also make great coaches. They are usually willing to educate a first-time writer if they see a book proposal that shows merit. You can trust that the agent isn't going to throw away a promising book proposal just because it needs work. He'll be honest with you, and may send you back to the drawing board, but you'll never know if you don't submit. I'll be praying for you.

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  8. Thank you. I was asked to submit a book proposal to an agent at BRMCWC in May. I explained that I had learned so much from the conference that I wanted to tweak it a little before I sent it to him.
    I have rewritten it three times and it's still not ready to send. I am thinking about starting over. This is my first book and I don't have a platform. I am deadly serious which may be translated boring.

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  9. Thank you. I was asked to submit a book proposal to an agent at BRMCWC in May. I explained that I had learned so much from the conference that I wanted to tweak it a little before I sent it to him.
    I have rewritten it three times and it's still not ready to send. I am thinking about starting over. This is my first book and I don't have a platform. I am deadly serious which may be translated boring.

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  10. Lori, I needed to hear this. Your prayer is my prayer. I did not submit when asked to. I felt unworthy and unqualified. I am sorry you went through this, but I now know I am not the only one who struggles. You are an awesome writer Lori.

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    1. Cherrilynn, sometimes it's easier to believe in everyone else than it is to believe in ourselves and the message God gave to US. I know God has given you a message, and yes, you need to be a good steward of what he has given you. He didn't give it to you to keep it to yourself. Love ya, gal!

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  11. Hi Lori - Your post is perfect timing. I am about to submit my book to Literary Agents. I am excited and nervous at the same time. You have given me encouraging words to continue moving forward. Thank you.

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    1. That's so exciting, Debra! I said a special prayer for you right now.

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  12. I got asked to submit a proposal at the AWSA conference. I don't feel ready. What if it'still not good enough? I don'the want to squash my dream. I prayed the same prayer- Lord lead me to the people and the opportunities You want for me. Now I'must concerned that I spoke before I had enough done.

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    1. When I wonder about scenarios like you've described, Joyce, I remind myself that the timing isn't mine, it's the Lord's. I can't kick down a door he wants to remain closed, but I can refuse to walk through a door he has opened.This horrible/wonderful writing world is a scary place, but with God directing our footsteps and inspiring our writing, we move forward in faith. I"ll be praying for you!

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