Men have been known to equate sex to the Great American Pastime. Baseball. Writers on the road to publication can do the same.
Now, before I delve into this, I want to give credit to my friend Dawn McClure for the inspiration of this article. She once mentioned that querying and getting rejections felt similar to what teenagers going after sex feel. It struck me as funny at first, but then I realized how right she was. How the entire act of writing and seeking publication can carry you back to those times when you were first learning about sex, or experimenting with it. Little was more serious to you then, just as there isn’t much that you want more than to succeed in this game of writing.
~ Home Plate. Self-Pleasure. This is the stage where you start putting words on the page. There is no burning passion driving you, but the act of writing gives you a sense of completion you’ve not found anywhere else. This is also where you go when you need to reevaluate your goals.
~ First Base. Kissing. You’ve sat at Home Plate and indulged yourself. You’ve courted the idea of moving to the next level, so here you stand on First Base. You’re no longer writing for your own self-pleasure. You have another goal. You want to get to know more writers and maybe get some critiques. No major changes. You have decided to no longer sit idle.
Writing, and all that goes with it, are getting personal for you. You’ve surrounded yourself with writers, received critiques, listened to what other writer’s have to say, taken some advice, and learned more about your craft. You’re beginning to realize that you want to do more than write for fun or just to be able to say you wrote a great, complete book. You think you want to shoot for publication.
~ Second Base. Touching more intimately. In some cases, this would be pitch sessions at conferences. In others, this is when you begin sending your query letters to agents or editors in the hopes of capturing their interest. You look for ways to stand out from the slush pile.
~ Third Base. Oral. Your palms are getting sweaty. Your queries have netted you some requests. You have the sweet taste of victory sitting on your tongue, and you can almost forget about the dirt and grime you’ve had smeared on you.
~ Home Run. Intercourse. In your writing career, this is when you get a call or email saying they loved your book and want to buy it or represent you. This is a dream come true moment that you should run screaming through the house over.
~ Grandslam. There are conflicting definitions on this one, as I’m sure you can imagine. I’m going to go with Relationship. At this point, you’ve sold, and possibly released, your first book. You’ve set to work on your next book and the one after that. You’ve pitched it to your agent or editor and they love it. You’re well on your way to multi-published status.
Believe it or not, it’s tougher to sell those second and third books than it is the first one. Your numbers and sales are analyzed when additional contracts are being considered. Grandslams don’t happen to everyone. They require a higher level of dedication and are part of what sets you apart from the masses.
There are some other terms you should be aware of though, because the game of publication isn’t always as straight forward as making the bases.
~ Bunt. You went off too early. You didn’t use the tools available or listen to what more experienced authors, agents, and editors said. You queried when you should have been getting critiques.
~ Balk. You thought you were going to make it to the next base, but you didn’t. You hoped that request for a partial would turn into a full request. Or that the full request would lead to a contract. Time to shake off the rejection and try again.
~ Walk. A Sympathy Base. There’s no such thing as sympathy in publishing, especially from Industry Professionals. The closest thing to a Walk, a Sympathy Base, in publishing is one you give yourself. This is when you get tired of waiting and allow yourself to settle for a smaller measure of success than you originally wanted. This could mean that you accept a smaller of two offers from New York, sell to a small e-publisher rather than waiting to hear from New York, or self-publish.
~ RBI. Someone else beat you to your next base. You were sure that your story idea was exactly what an agent or editor was looking for. Unfortunately, they received ten similar queries the same day and chose a different one. Work on your execution, the way you present yourself and your work.
~ Strike Out. You’ve tried too hard, but never got past Home Plate. This could be what happens when you refuse to learn from what others are telling you, or you fail to stop treating writing as a hobby.
~ Grounder. If you run real fast, you may make it to Second Base without stopping at First. In writing and publishing, skipping bases is when you find yourself Bunting, Balking, Walking, getting RBIs, or Striking Out. Shortcuts do not work in writing and publishing. You may move faster than some people, and you may have a shorter learning curve, but everyone has to play the same game.
~ Line Drive. You’re heading for Second Base, but maybe you shouldn’t have gotten off of Home Plate. You didn’t do your homework and acted too quickly. Slow down and make sure you’re ready to make that step. You may need to do some revisions or revisit some of the lessons you’ve heard.
~ Fly Ball. You’re shooting for whatever you can get. You only want validation that you have talent or you’re better than that last bad book you read, so you settle for less than your best.
Sending out your work that you’ve poured your heart and soul into is as painful as taking a header into an unmovable wall. Taking your time to work through the bases, making sure you have the strongest skills possible, and realizing that writing and submitting is an experience will teach you to be strong and resilient. If we didn’t take the time to learn lessons early on in our sex lives we wouldn’t know a thing about romance or relationships. What would we have to write about if we hadn’t learned those lessons?
The same thing applies to writing. Every frustration and set back is another hit, but you have to keep moving or you’ll never see victory. Learn your lessons and you can have multiple Grandslams that will add up to an amazing record for your career as a multi-published and possibly a best-selling author.
Prepare early for your Grandslam by taking your education and career into your own hands.
Nikki’s been a member of North Texas Romance Writers of America for close to two years, and has been recognized as an RWA PRO. She’s completed three novels and one novella. While seeking publication, Nikki keeps herself busy by creating the stories living vividly in her imagination and helping other authors with promotional materials, including book videos, bookmark designs, excerpt widgets, and website design and maintenance.
Nikki will be interviewing editors and agent at RWA Nationals in an attempt to educate herself about the ins and outs of the publishing industry. More can be found about Nikki by visiting www.nikkiduncan.com.