I’ve been thinking about an interview I did with author Kalynn Bayron last year, where she said this:
“It’s not selfish to pursue your dreams, and it’s never too late.”
When she decided to query agents with her first novel, people told her that her book didn’t have a place in the market. That only a very limited group of people would ever want to read her book.
But then, after more than 70 queries, she met her agent who said to her: “This story has to be out there. People need to read this.”
It made Kalynn feel that someone else shared her vision. This is how she described feeling in that moment: “This story can be told. People will want to read this. There are people out there waiting for this. That was like somebody flipped a switch. That’s how I feel, now somebody else feels that way, now we are on a team, let’s go!”
When I asked Kalynn about her 70 queries, and 70 people passing, she noted that this was a low number compared to many writers she speaks with.
Think about that. When you are reaching out to the 70th agent pitching your book, that means that you are far beyond your initial A-list of agents. It means that you are in a process of discovering that there are many other agents you never knew about. And that you must constantly research to not only find them, but to try to establish a connection to them.
Then it took months and months longer, and many submissions, before they found her editor and publisher.
The way Kalynn described her collaboration with her agent and editor is inspiring. These people didn’t just magically appear at the slightest effort. Kalynn had to put herself out there again and again and again (repeat this 70 more times…) before she found her agent who became such an important part of her writing life.
When her most recent book launched last summer, it found a huge readership, with more than 1,000 reviews on Amazon, and lots of press and attention.
This is why I focus so much on the human-centered aspects of sharing and marketing. Because it is about that magical moment when you and your work connects with another human being.
Too often, writers feel that they missed the boat for their dreams, and that it is too late to pursue them now. Their concerns are myriad. Sometimes it is that they feel out of sync with current trends, that they already tried and failed, or they worry that they don’t have the time or energy required to find success.
The perception that one has that it is “too late” can create a very real internal boundary. Recently I was listening to an interview with a famous rock singer. When asked about how he joined the band, he said that at the time he was in his 30s, living with his parents, and just opened an automotive business.
He received a call inviting him to audition as the singer for a band that he knew of, and already had a big following. At first, he didn’t want to go to go. He said to himself, “Look, I’m 32. I’m past my sell-buy date for a rock band.” It would be a 5 hour drive, and he didn’t want to bother.
But then he said, “Just after that call, like 30 minutes later, I got a call from another guy who said, ‘I’m doing jingles now, would you sing on a Hoover advertisement.’ I said ‘How much?’ and he said $350 quid.” So he decided that since the Hoover ad was in London, and that is where the band audition would be, he would do them both in the same day.
That’s the only reason he went to the audition is because of the Hoover jingle.
He recorded the jingle, then showed up for the audition with the band. When it ended, he went to leave, saying ”I gotta get home and open the shop up in the morning.” But the band said, “You can’t leave.”
(The singer was Brian Johnson and the band was AC/DC.)
It takes one person to help fuel your creative dreams. This is why I encourage writers to not only create and share, but to focus on the value of one-on-one connections. Because nowadays, there is so much talk about “going viral” and “getting followers,” and while those things can be valuable, I think that too often we overlook how fulfilling it can be to connect with one person. And you never know when that connection can lead you to what you always dreamed of with your writing.