This weekend I attended SCBWI LA Writer's Day, which is always a fantastic event. It usually features about 3-4 authors, an agent and an editor, and allows for a more intimate atmosphere than the international conferences to ask questions and meet people. This Writers Day was especially important to me, because an editor who is currently considering my book was present, and it provided me with an otherwise impossible opportunity to connect a face to a name.
As I described to her upon meeting her, she's pretty much a rock star in my world right now. You hold on to a dream an entire lifetime and it finally makes its way to the desk of an editor you admire, and you realize that what it all comes down to is this: Whatever is meant to be will happen. I know, isn't that annoying as hell? But it's true. We can fight, kick, scream, joke to impress, come up with witty one-liners and pat ourselves on the back for making it through the conversation without making all our sentences blur into one out of sheer nervousness, but at the end of the day, it's the work that speaks for us loudest of all.
I also learned via a panel by award-winning author Lee Wardlaw that no matter how many books you publish, there is no guarantee that editors will continue to buy everything you write. She had a seven year lapse in between publication of two of her books, which prompted her now sixteen year old son to joke that he'd forgotten she was a writer. Therefore, it reminds us, as authors, that like any creative endeavor, there are no guarantees, and it is essential to keep producing new stories. We hope to establish long term relationships with editors, but they can change houses or retire or simply not be interested in your book at that time.
We can't fight the universe on any of this stuff. The pool of agents is huge, but the pool of editors is actually quite tiny, and our shot at making it happen is actually terrifyingly smaller than I'd realized. The list of great writers who received representation only to make their first sale with their second, third or even fifth book are quite long. Hopefully, this one will sell, because I do believe in this story, and hope the right editor will connect with it as well. But it underscores the importance of why it is critical to always be working on something new and moving forward.