Friday, August 12, 2011

Wisdom from Kathryn Stockett, Author of *The Help*

Okay, so if you haven't already, you really need to read this.  It's an article by Kathryn Stockett -- she talks about her book, The Help, and everything she went through to get it published.  More specifically, everything she went through to get an agent.

    Her book was rejected 60 times.  The 61st letter was an offer of representation.  She kept trying for three and a half years before she got an agent.  Now her book's a bestseller and has its own movie.  Nice turn of events, right?

    Anyway, if you're querying or going to be querying in the future, I hope you'll keep this in mind, maybe even print it out.  Even if you're not writing, if something else is your passion, it's a great reminder to never give up.  Plus, bonus:  The way she writes is sort of hysterical.  That never hurts. 

    A lot of people claim J.K. Rowling as an inspiration.  She is, no doubt, but in the "agent rejection" respect, her story never really encouraged me much.  I mean, sure, she got rejected by multiple publishers before her book sold, but she got representation from the first agent she queried. 

    On the other end of the spectrum, Kathryn Stockett got representation from the sixty-first agent she queried, and won over the first publisher she tried. 

    What sort of stories encourage you?


cweaks said...

This story most definitely encourages me. My manuscript isn't ready for the query process yet but I'm getting there and I know rejection is inevitable. Stockett said...she doesn't give up and I think that is HUGE. Writer's need that attitude to survive the process. Awesome post!!

Jemi Fraser said...

I love to hear stories of perseverence! It's takes a long time to really learn this writing business & it's good to hear of people who don't give up easily!

Heidi said...

What a great article! The number of rejections didn't strike me as unusual, since most of the authors I listen to experienced WAY more than that before they got offers, but her obsessiveness is. That's just shockingly cool! Thanks for sharing that!

Barbara Kloss said...

Thanks for posting this story! It IS encouraging. I'm like you...JK's story never really encouraged me much. :) So I appreciate this one.

Anonymous said...

I don't read the HP books or watch the movies because of witchcraft; however, I still find Rowling to be an inspiration =) She had so much imagination!!
~ Mirriam

Clarissa Draper said...

Those types of stories encourage me. It provides hope for us all! Thanks for the link.

Laura Pauling said...

And with JK, I didn't think 8 or 9 rejections was that much. Kathryn's story is much more inspiring!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Imagine being rejected that many times - and STILL trying! That really shows how dedicated she was to her novel. :)

I've been thinking lately about agents. Do you know much about them? Because I've sent query letters to publishing companies, but I don't know if I ought to look into agents instead. The only problems are that a) I know nothing about the process of getting an agent, and b) I don't have enough money to pay one! Still, I wondered if you had any info for me to consider; if not now, then sometime in the future. You seem to know a bit more about agents and publishers than me, so I thought it couldn't hurt to ask. :)

Jenna Blake Morris said...

cweaks -- Same here. I have a feeling I'll be referring back to that article in the future. And I agree -- perseverance like hers is amazing and necessary. Thanks!

Jemi -- Me too! I love how open she is with her personal story. Super encouraging.

Heidi -- She was really obsessive, wasn't she? I thought it was funny that she'd make excuses to go to the hotels to be alone and write.

Barbara -- I remember hearing about how many times she got rejected. After I got my first rejection, I Googled it -- and she got her agent on the first try. I think that's part of why I loved Kathryn's story so much. Glad it encourages you!

Mirriam -- Good point; she's definitely inspiring in other ways. I think the main thing that stands out for me is her world building.

Clarissa -- Me too; stories like that are my favorites. Welcome!

Laura -- I think so too!

Taylor -- I definitely don't claim to know everything about it, but I'd be happy to tell you what all I've picked up on! Would it be fine if I used the email address connected with your blog? I think that'd be easier than trying to cram it into an already-too-long comment. (:

Angie Cothran said...

I read this is was awesome! I'm so glad she didn't give up. This was so inspirational.

Amaranthine said...

I love this post. I just imagine getting rejection letters over, and over, and over and just trying and trying again. It seems really easy to just let your project flop and give up. But I think if you have enough faith in your project and your abilities you can break through!

Anonymous said...

That'd be great, Jenna, thank you so much! My email address is :) I'd love to hear what you've picked up - thanks again!

The Golden Eagle said...

She must have had a lot of determination on her part! :)

A lot of stories inspire me--not sure that I could narrow it down. :P

Thanks for the link!

Jenna Blake Morris said...

Angie -- It's crazy to think what she would've missed out on if she'd quit, isn't it?

Amaranthine -- Agreed. I think it's especially amazing that she kept on querying for *The Help*. It would've been another thing to move on and work on another project, to keep on going in that respect. I love that she didn't give up on the project she had faith in.

Golden Eagle -- I know, right? And you're welcome!

Lynda R Young said...

I love hearing these stories. Perseverance and hard work are so important.

Natalie said...

I love Kathryn Stockett. Her story is incredibly inspiring. I think every writer pays their dues somewhere, whether it be during agent-querying or editor-submitting or bad-review-getting or book flopping or a combination of the all of them. Writing is hard. Publishing is harder. I don't think very many writers get through unscathed.

Deana said...

Oh, I love this! Thanks for the link:) I can't read enough of these stories about successful authors once going down the rough road too. It gives us all hope:)

The Story Queen said...

Now THAT is peristance. I guess if writing (or anything, really) is your dream, you just have to keep going for it until you make it.

(Unless you're being rejected because your manuscript sucks, in which case you should probably work on that first.)

Thanks for posting the article too! I haven't read it yet so I'll make sure to check it out :)

Shelby said...

oh i really wanna go see the movie, i read the book and loved it! thanks for the comment! Shelby

Jenna Blake Morris said...

Lynda -- Me too. They usually give me an extra encouragement boost.

Natalie -- Great point. I hadn't thought of it "paying the dues" before, but I definitely agree. And in a way, I think it's supposed to be like that. It means more. Thanks for pointing that out.

Deana -- Welcome! Me neither; things like these always motivate me.

Story Queen -- Ha, good point. Check the manuscript before persevering. And you're welcome! (:

Shelby -- I haven't read the book yet, but my mom is, and she loves it so far. Welcome!