As many of you know, it took me ten manuscripts before I landed my first book deal. Ten whole books written over ten years, and each and every one of them didn’t get picked by an agent, didn’t get picked by a publisher, and is currently residing in my hard drive, collecting dust.
Ten failed books. More than a thousand agents rejections.
It was definitely enough to wear a person down. And I’ve had many people ask me: why didn’t you quit? Why did you keep trying to get published?
Because I’m stubborn.
But no—it was more than that. Because I believed each book was “the one.” I wrote each one thinking it was the best idea I ever had. I edited each book thinking it would become the diamond I saw in the rough. And I submitted each one of those ten books utterly believing that it would change my life, change the face of publishing, and be a huge hit.
And, while it was disheartening to see the rejections piling up, at the end of each submission process, I got another idea. A better idea.
An idea that would surely be the one.
This business is depressing, cripplingly so. But if I could only say one thing about it, I’d say: Treat every book like The One. Treat every manuscript as if it’s the one that will make all the difference. Of course, it may not be. Odds are, it won’t be. Nearly every writer I know has a huge collection of trunked novels. But the point isn’t publication, not really.
If you treat every book as if it’s the one that will make a difference, then you care about it. You write it with that care, and you edit it with that care. You slave over the words, and then you slave again over making them better (or cutting them). You tackle each submission with hope.
And that will make you a better writer. I can look back on those ten manuscripts now and see them as lessons, not failures. Each of those books had a fundamental flaw I couldn’t see. Some of it was the wrong premise. Some of it was just a clichéd idea, or something that didn’t fit well with the market, or not original enough, or too original. But because I loved and believed in each one, I learned about how to be a better writer. I learned how to edit. I learned how to handle rejections. I learned how to write.
Don’t give up. Treat every book like The One. Because one day, it will be.
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Beth Revis is the NY Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series. The complete trilogy is now available in more than 20 languages. A native of North Carolina, Beth recently released a new science fiction novel for teens, The Body Electric.
Bonus: Beth Revis moderates an amazing subreddit for YA writers. Check it out here!