You’ve got to be a stubborn SOB

Novelist Steve Berry, one of my encouragers, told me, “If I can do it, you can do it.” Steve labored twelve years, completing eight manuscripts, querying 300 agents, and suffering through 85 rejections from publishers before his first novel, The Amber Room, was purchased by Ballantine. The book became a national best-seller. All of his subsequent novels became best sellers, too. His most recent release, number five, is The Venetian Betrayal.

Last week at an Atlanta Writers Club meeting, local author Gregg Loomis (The Sinai Secret is his latest novel) said he queried 76 agents before he found one that would take on his second book. “Persistence pays off,” Gregg said. Or more to the point: “You’ve got to be a stubborn son-of-a-bitch.”

Edgar Award winner Walter Sorrells said that if you have talent, that’s good. But you gotta “dog things and dog things and dog things.” He also said you need an “infinite capacity for rejection.” Don’t I know it.

Another writer–sorry, I don’t remember who it was–told me that a professional novelist is an amateur who didn’t give up.

So I’ll keep the words of the immortal Winnie–Churchill, not Pooh–in mind: “Never give up, never give up, never give up.”

And why should I be discouraged? I’ve fired off only thirty queries so far.

Photo: Steve Berry’s best-selling novel The Amber Room.
Steve received 85 rejections before The Amber Room found a publisher.  The book went on to become a best seller.



  1. Writer-in-waiting | Buzz Bernard on May 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    […] and waiting for their white knight, their agent, to find a publisher. As I’ve said in other blogs, getting published is a tough, competitive business. Agents are so overwhelmed by query letters–some get hundreds a week–a writer may never […]

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