Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Writer Wednesday: Pat Brown

New writers studiously study how-to articles online, in writer's magazines and in the hundreds of books published on how to write in the belief that there is some secret that all published writers know and if only they could find it, they'd be published too. I'm afraid it's not true. There is no magic wand that can transform you from unpublished to published. The process is the same for everybody, for some it's just longer than others. Even when the dream is realized, it's not the end. You publish one book, one short story or perhaps an article. The next one is not a shoe-in. You might get more consideration for having been published, but you can just as easily be rejected again for you latest work.

It took me 33 years between the first book I wrote at 17 to having my first book published when I was 50. In that time I wrote at least 8 novels that were not published, in some cases probably weren't publishable. But each one was a learning experience I built on until I produced a book that someone wanted. But after that there was more rejection. The second book in the series was rejected and I ended up taking it elsewhere, to a small, independent publisher, which was a step down from the New York publisher I had started with. I'm still glad to be published by them and have continued with them since then. But I still want to break back into the New York publishing world and I've been pursuing an agent for the last 6 months. So far I have 95 rejections on one book I'm querying. That's 95 times I've had to read 'Sorry, not for us' since most of the rejections have been form letters. But I haven't stopped querying and I haven't stopped writing. I still send out queries on that book, and wait for a response. I have also started an even larger, more ambitious project, a noir historical which I will also be querying on when it's finished.

My point to all this is, though I have 8 fiction novels published and several short stories, I am no more guaranteed the next book I write will be published by anyone. Publishing is a business going through a lot of changes right now, and no one knows where it will be in 5 years, let alone 20. Publishers want sure things, and since there is no such thing, they compensate by being cautious. Which means more rejections to all but the upper tier of proven best sellers.

So why do it? I do it because I can't NOT write. Whether or not I get published I will always write because the stories are in me and have to be told. With that compulsion I will keep writing no matter if the next book or the one after that is never published or I decide to self publish an ebook, I will write.

As a new writer, only you can decide if this path is for you. No one else can make that decision or stop you from trying. If you want to write, despite the odds, then I say go, write.

My motto is taken right out of Galaxy Quest -- 'Never give up, never surrender'

Pat Brown

Award winning author of the L.A. crime novels.


I'll admit I held back on publishing this one. I thought it was too real to inspire new writers, but reading it again I have changed my mind. Writing and being published is not easy. It would be unfair to lead anyone to believe otherwise. Like any job, it takes dedication, incredible stamina, and thick skin to deflect criticism and rejection. And still, even with that some writing dreams won't be realized, while others will exceed all expectations. There's no way to predict which path your writing will take until you do the work and hand it over to the world. There are no guarantees, even for writers that have been published. These are depressing facts, but things all writers should understand. So thank you Pat for telling it like it is. I was wrong, this post is inspiring. It inspires me to keep learning, improving, and trying to reach my writing goals. It inspires me to never give up...

Thanks to all of you who took the time to stop by for another great Writer Wednesday.

Kristin : )


  1. Pat, you are a testament to stick-to-it-iveness. And I love the quote from Galaxy Quest (one of my favorite movies of all time).

    Kristin, thanks for deciding to post this--it IS inspiring. :)

  2. Am not sure this is what I needed to read this morning post-election. But yeah, it's real life and needs to be said. I went through a number of years not writing because I wasn't sure I could handle the rejection. Now, I have discovered that I must write. I too have stories inside me that need to be released if for no other reason than good mental health. :)

  3. Thanks Linda. Love that word, stick-to-it-iveness! When I read this post months ago I wasn't ready to face these truths. My head was still in the clouds with my first book. I wanted to believe that the hardest part of being an author was behind me. Smooth sailing, you know? It's not, but that doesn't mean we give up. It means we question ourselves about why we write in the first place. If that reason gives us the strength to continue despite any odds then like Pat said, we should write. That's a liberating thought. If the drive is in us, no one can take it away.

    Thanks for your comment Mary. I think our worst enemy is ourselves, in writing anyway. I'm glad you have found an internal reason to write, and good mental health is a great one :) Get those two stories out and make room for new and exciting ones.