Climb Every Mountain

Monday, June 13, 2011

John W. Campbell, the editor of a well-known science fiction magazine, said, "The reason 99% of all stories written are not bought by editors is very simple. Editors never buy manuscripts that are left on the closet shelf at home."

I was reminded of the Campbell quote last month when I overheard an editor at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. She said that most of the people she asks to send her a proposal never do: a comment I have heard many times at writers conferences.

It's so hard to find a publisher who will even unlock the door, so why would a writer stay outside after a publisher has opened it? Fear of failure--or of success. Or the writer doesn't believe the publisher really meant it.

That's what happened at my first writers' conference in 2004. An editor from The War Cry read the article I handed him, handed it back, and said, "Send me a copy and I'll publish it." As I walked away, I thought, "He wanted to be nice, but he doesn't really mean what he said."

I sent the article in anyway, and he did mean it. Because I took the chance, I sold my first article and got a check for $117.

Ever since, if an editor tells me to send in an article or devotion or book proposal, I do it immediately upon returning home from the conference. (Well, not until after I kiss my husband.)

Do editors always mean it? Some may not, but I don't know until I try. That's what Mother Superior meant when she told Maria to "Climb Every Mountain."*

There's a mountain waiting for you.

Go climb it.
* From The Sound of Music.

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