Erotica author, aka Elspeth Potter, on Writing from the Inside

Thursday, April 22, 2010

You Make Your Own Luck

A fellow Romance Diva recently told the story of her first sale, which resulted from a series of events at an RWA Conference - not random events, not entirely. She had taken actions that led to those "random" events. The lesson I took away from her story was that it's better to make your own luck.

What do I mean by that? I mean that not every path (in this case, to publication) is the same. That seems self-evident, but really it's not. You have to keep your eyes open to see those other paths. I think it helps a lot if you're being yourself, and no one else, while you're doing that. You have to be open to opportunities; have hunches; do things that might not seem "normal" but that intrigue you anyway.

I won't give exact details since it isn't my story to tell. The Diva was writing in one genre, but attended a workshop for a different genre entirely. She participated, off-the-cuff, and discovered a new type of story she was interested in writing, and was able to pitch it to an editor whom she later encountered in another context, so she was able to strengthen her connection. Lesson one, she made her own luck by being at the workshop and being open to try something new. She followed up that connection by actually delivering a manuscript, and a synopsis of the next as well. Lesson two, she followed up, and continues to follow up to this day.

People talk a lot about luck in publishing, and I truly believe that luck is an element. But some luck, you can make for yourself.

I'd love to hear stories about unexpected connections and successes.


  1. Well, I will totally comment on this post because it is so true. And I will out myself because it is my story and I'm always willing to share. I put myself out there any chance I get. It takes risk, but without risk, there is no reward.

    And, I like to call these sorts of happenstance "nudges." Sometimes we so stubbornly fixiate on what we think we want, that we miss the opportunity to find success in other places.

    Just three days ago, I made the decision to put my historical manuscripts away. I love Regencies, had some measured success with my mss (GH finals, etc) but I know that if I'm constantly bumping into a wall, I'm probably heading the wrong way. Nothing wrong with being persistent. Something wrong with being stubbornly stupid. Be okay with trying a new direction. Be willing to evolve. Never know when you might end up like me - in an unexpected good place.

    Liz Talley

  2. Thanks, Liz! (I should get you a virtual dressing room with a star on the door.)

    Visit Liz here!

  3. Fortune favors the prepared, right? I'm loving your blog by the way. Kudos for putting so much thought into your posts.

    I got very, very lucky to get my first sale, but I put myself out there any way I could -- conference pitching, contests, agent and editor queries. I cast a wide net hoping one of them would pan out. If you're hungry for it, you have to be fearless and that means going outside your comfort zone in the writing and in the publication hunt.

  4. Thanks, Jeannie! Your excellent comments do a lot to bring up the tone around here, too.

  5. I'm paraphrasing someone elses words here, but basically when this athlete was asked why he was so lucky, his reply was that the harder he practiced, the luckier he got, which I think sums it up quite well.
    I got lucky by being introduced to a potential new agent at a crucial point in my career, but I still had to have written enough books and started on my writing path in order to benefit from that introduction. So I'd agree luck does play a part but that you have to work hard to get lucky :)