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Why Getting Published is Like Golf

After two months of lessons, a woman in St. Petersburg FL hit a hole in one. This is a feat that most golfers, even ones who have been playing for decades, never experience in their entire life. It is an occurrence that many professional golfers have never experienced. But some woman picked up a club, drew it back and watched something completely unexpected and unlikely happen.

Her attitude: What's the big deal? Doesn't this happen to everyone?

Many writers toil at their craft for years to see their work published by a reputable house. Some are successful; others are not. Sometimes this is a matter of lack of ability. Other times, it is not. Occasionally, someone picks up a pen (or more likely sits at his/her laptop) and whips out a bestseller. It happens.

In golf, there is a good amount of luck invloved: which way the breeze gusts the moment the ball sails through the air, which way the ground is pitched where the ball strikes the ground, how damp the green is in the area where your ball lands etc. These are all things that even the most experienced golfer could not calculate.

In publishing, there is also a good amount of luck involved: whether the editorial assistant digging through the slush pile that day likes your voice, whether he/she is in a good mood, how the individuals in marketing perceive your book's viability in the marketplace, whether there is any budget left after acquiring the ghost-written celebrity book they just paid seven figures for, etc.

For those of you aspiring to land your first contract, all I can say is to keep working at it. Without a great deal of practice, that lucky golfer in St. Petersburg is not likely to ever hit a hole in one again. The more honed your skills, the less those uncontrollable variables matter. I'll print that last sentence again. It's the important one.

The more honed your skills, the less those uncontrollable variables matter.

Be humble. Open yourself up to improvement. Even Tiger Woods has a coach. Put out your best work and keep pushing forward.

Eventually, the breeze will be blowing in the right direction...


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