The Four Ps of Publishing

April 28, 2008 at 7:40 am | Posted in career, Jessica, motivation, writing | 3 Comments

Over the years I have heard similar advice in response to the ‘how to get published question’ and almost all of that advice boils down to some variation of the same four things, all words that begin with the letter P.

Preparationto put in proper condition or readiness. I have included a mention of ‘product’ below, but being prepared requires more than having written. It helps to have market research, business savvy, professional contacts, self-awareness, and a plan. Any and all preparation will help put you on better footing when confronted with THE CALL when it comes.

Persistence to continue steadfastly or firmly in some state, purpose, course of action, or the like, esp. in spite of opposition, remonstrance, etc. There are some people who find publishing gold straight out of the gate while others toil for years with mixed or no success. As Thoreau said, ‘Go confidently in the direction of your dreams . . .’ If publication is your end goal, may you persist and not be distracted from your goal.

Patience an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay. Anyone who has ever sat down to write a book knows that it is a process that takes time. And even if you are a quick, prolific writer, the wheels of the publishing industry tend to move at a slow pace. There are many things you can do to help during the interminable delays — keep writing (of course!), read, volunteer for your writing groups, mentor newer writers, devise and present writing workshops, research, treat yourself to a writer’s date, vent to your writing friends . . . whatever you need to do to keep yourself sane instead of running your imagination in unhealthy circles.

Perseverance steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., esp. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. No matter how much joy writing may (or may not!) bring, writing is work . . . and is often hard work. And that’s just the act of fighting to sit down every day with the need to produce strings of words, coherent thoughts, and strong sentences. Pages and pages of what we hope is good, intoxicating, evocative prose. In the outside world, there lurks around every corner the villains of rejection, critics, naysayers, thwarters, bloodsuckers. I know of one writer who keeps a rhino (small, stuffed, animal) on his desk to remind him of the thick skin he needs to endure the sharp spears thrown in this business. But he stays steady on his course, determined to persevere and succeed. Which he does.

Do you have any other Ps you would like to add to the four above?

I would like to add two more Ps to that list . . .

Product – the best way to get published is to write and to have written. Write the best book you can, and, when you finish that one, start the next one. Keep learning and growing, but, no matter what, keep writing.

Professional. Nathan Bransford had an interesting post in the past few weeks on how personality counts in increasing ways in the publishing business. And while the product is what sells, having a complete and total professional package can only help you in the long run. As with any job search, you want to put your best foot forward. And I believe that placing your product with the right professionals is akin to finding yourself a new job.

Even with the four Ps (or six, or however many you would like to add), timing also plays a huge factor. I know I have said it before, but I believe that getting published is about having the right product in the right hands at the right time. But if you are doing what you need to do to get yourself published, I also believe that you can create your own luck. Keep minding your Ps and, most of all, keep writing!




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  1. Great post, Jessica! I think the greatest of all the “Ps” is perseverance. The only way you can be truly derailed on your way to publication is if you–and only you–quit. It’s a big wake-up call to realize NO ONE else can do this for you–not the best agent or editor, not the most effective critique group… You and only you, which makes it that much sweeter when the call finally comes.

  2. Too true, Marie! Thank you for chiming in!

  3. Great post – I agree, Perseverance has always been one of my favorite words.

    A speaker I once heard said the definition of “perseverance” from the Hebrew word is “to stand without giving way” – I always thought that sounded like something I could accomplish – not to fight something, just not to give anything up either.

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