No Pain No Gain: Persistence in Selling Your Manuscript

Persistence. KeyboardPersistence can be defined as the firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

It seems that whether you’re an aspiring writer, or one who’s well established, there is always self-doubt. Times when you feel that no one will love your story as much as you and your beta readers do. Sometimes there’s good reason, you’re being arrogant and stubborn and refuse to listen to professional criticism. Or you’re just going with your gut and refuse to waver, not arrogant, but maybe blind to the faults in your manuscript. We’ve all been there, in all those crappy places.

But persistence is one of the most important weapons in the writer’s armory. I keep telling myself that rejection builds character, pain makes us stronger. You know, no pain no gain? Well I’ve lived by that mantra at the gym all these years, now I just have to transfer that to my writing life. And I don’t think it stops after you’ve had your first success. Look at writers like J K Rowling and Stephanie Meyer. It’s almost like they have no chance of publishing another successful manuscript. No matter how good their new books might be they can never reach the popularity of what they’ve already published. Both of their series have reached exponential and legendary status and it is nearly impossible to live up to a legend, even your own, because it has taken on mythical standing.

So in order to develop this habit of persistence I’ve started something new. I’ve anointed Wednesday (Hump Day) as Submission Day, to keep me over the hump of getting a query started. I’ve committed to sending out one submission a week. It’s reduced my anxiety over hours of exhausting work and whittled it down to a simple task that keeps the rhythm going, especially because in most instances your submission will languish for months before you receive a reply, if you receive one at all. Maybe it ‘s just like throwing things at a wall, if you keep it up eventually the odds are that something will stick.

Here are some links for finding agents and small presses to keep those doors open and those submissions flowing. All are easily accessed online.

  1. Karen Fox’s Site
  2. Preditors and Editors
  3. Poets and Writers
  4. Agent Query 
  5. Query Tracker
  6. Writer Beware

And here is inspiration for being persistent:

  • “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”   Calvin Coolidge
  • “Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.”   Bill Bradley
  • And lastly, I’m a huge fan of Chuck Wendig. I love his blog. He’s irreverent and blunt, and curses a lot. He makes me laugh and throw things. But everything he says rings true for me. Here’s his advice:


Writing. Finishing. Editing. Publishing. Selling.

We want everything fast but sometimes it’s slow because it needs to be slow.

        I write fast. I can churn out a book that doesn’t suck in a month or two. I also write a lot. In just over two years I’ve published ten books — one of which was self-published. Some of these books seem well-regarded, though I can’t speak to their actual quality, only to their quantity. I had a short film show at Sundance. I had a script go through the Sundance Labs. Worked on games and transmedia stuff and now comics and somewhere north of 115,000 tweets. I’ll probably write diner menus and the product description on the back of a bag of donkey chow next.

It’s a strong quantity of words. Quality, I dunno. But definitely quantity.

And to that quantity I have been referred to at times as an overnight success, which is true as long as you define “overnight” as “a pube’s width shy of 20 years.”

Because that’s how long I’ve been writing.

Twenty years.

Read more here:

The other day I watched The State of Play on HBO: Examining the Science of Happiness. It reminded me that it’s Message in bottle on beach. Creative hope and faith concept.not usually achieving the goal that makes you happy, or satisfied, it’s the journey. And that happiness is something you have to work at, you’re not at the mercy of your genes or your environment. In most cases optimism over pessimism is a choice. So I’m choosing to think positively and appreciate the wild ride I’m on. And I’m starting to see the results of my persistence. This round of submissions has produced more interest from agents and editors than I’ve had in quite some time. I’m hopeful, and don’t worry, you’ll be the first to know if I publish. So remember, don’t quit and enjoy the ride!


Author: Caryn McGill

Caryn is a former high school science teacher, school district administrator and adjunct college professor.

2 thoughts on “No Pain No Gain: Persistence in Selling Your Manuscript”

  1. I agree that we are each on a journey and we can’t actually “get” to our goal until we’ve traveled down the path. But like a long road trip, I just keep whining “are we there yet?” over and over because I want the destination so much more than the travel to get there! Will it be worth it? Absolutely! Does waiting suck? Even more so.

    1. I totally get it. And even when you reach the destination (getting a book deal) then there’s the whole journey to see if it sells and whether you’re asked to write another book. I’m not sure the journey ever ends…? Thanks for writing me! Good luck!

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