Tuesday, June 8, 2010

GUEST POST: ELANA JOHNSON "FINISH STRONG"!!!

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to have Elana J. here today. She is amazing. Seriously, people. Not sure yet? Just read her post today. Wow.


FINISH STRONG


Okay, so Sara’s letting me take over today. She wanted me to talk about how I got started writing and how I kept going, even during the hard times. Not sure I did that in this post, like at all, but here we go…


First, let’s get something out of the way. I’ve felt like quitting every day, in some capacity. There’s two words you need to keep going: FINISH STRONG.


It doesn’t matter how fast you’re going right now. It doesn’t matter if you don’t write every day. It’s okay to take breaks. Fling yourself from the ledge. Eat a lot of Oreos.


But don’t quit.


I know, I know. Sounds easy coming from the girl who has a book deal.


Let’s get some numbers out there.


Elana’s embarrassing stats:

Novels written: 12 (seriously)

Novels queried: 2 (CONTROL ISSUES was my third penned novel)

Months spent querying: 14 (that’s FOURTEEN, and not a typo)

Queries sent for CONTROL ISSUES: 189

Submissions sent: 42

Rejections in 2009: 188 (41 people passed on CI. Again, not a typo)

Months spent writing for the QueryTracker blog BEFORE I was agented: 11 – AND I was the last of the QT blog authors to be agented.

Agent phone calls BEFORE an offer was extended: 5

Revisions done for agents BEFORE an offer was extended: 2


Number of rejections received in 2010: 0


The point of sharing this is to show that I had many opportunities to quit. Too many. But I didn’t. You shouldn’t either.


It doesn’t matter if you’re first, last, or in between. Publishing is NOT a race. It doesn’t matter if your critmate got an agent—the same one that rejected you. It simply doesn’t matter. The only thing you can do is work hard at improving your writing and FINISH STRONG.


So do that, okay? Okay.


What do you think? What does it take to finish strong? Can you do it? (Yes, yes you can.)

SEE? I told you. AH-MAZ-ING. Did this inspire you all as much as it inspired me? Thank you so much Elana!! This was perfect. Exactly what I was hoping for and more. Thank you for being willing to share your story with us!

Her blog is so awesome, too - if you aren't a follower already, get over there and add yourself right now. You can thank me later. :-)

76 comments:

Kristi Helvig said...

Elana is amazing - thanks for letting her tell her inspiring story here!

Amie B said...

what a great post! thanks elana for sharing your stats with us. its easy to feel as though things are stacked against us. but i've got the 3 P's (persist, persevere and be patient) though i'm still working on that last one. :)

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Great post, I'm definitely inspired. :) Finishing strong is sometimes a bit difficult for me, but Elana is SO right - it's not a race. Sometimes it just takes time. All right, I'm encouraged and ready to get back to work!

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

I love how accessible Elana is! She's real, like me and you. Her voice and her story inspires me like nothing else. Thanks for highlighting her today!

Charity Bradford said...

Elana has a gift of saying exactly what I need to hear when I need to hear it.

Heather Kelly said...

"Eat a lot of Oreos."

OMG-- Elana can see me right now! **nervously checking to make sure skype camera isn't broadcasting to all of the blogosphere** I'm eating oreo ice cream for breakfast!

Thanks Elana, I love seeing the stats! You're a trooper!! And, congrats, again!

Angela M. said...

Elana, maybe you should add a stat for how many people you're an inspiration to! Your stats are encouraging to budding writers. It shows me there might be a lot of walls to run into, but there's always a door somewhere if you just keep trying to stick your foot in it.

A question occurred to me while reading this, though. I thought when an agent calls, it's with the intention of offering representation. What other reasons do they call you for???

Natalie said...

Great guest post, Sara.

That is pretty inspirational Elana! I think it's easy to see people with book deals and think they must just be perfect, but the truth is we all struggle at some stage of the process. Thanks for putting that into perspective. :)

Valerie said...

Really awesome post! Just what I needed to hear this morning!

Christina Lee said...

Elena, every time I see your stats (this time was the most extensive yet-thank you) I feel inspired! THANK YOU for being honest and giving us all a pump up <333 !!!!!

Christina Lee said...

Darn, I always spell you name with an E instead of an A--sorry (blame my other friend named Elena)!

Slamdunk said...

I love the presentation Elana.

I can just hear Winston Churchill punding his fist on podium and offering the sage advice to young people,"Never, never, never, never give up."

Sara B. Larson said...

I just love Elana, too! I told you this post was awesome. I'm so excited for all the comments and new followers! Thanks everyone! :-)

Elana Johnson said...

Angela, my phone calls were unconventional, I'll give you that. I revised twice, for different agents, and those revision requests came through a phone call. Two others were done with an agent as a follow-up to revisions and then for her to tell me no. Talk about awkward.

The fifth became the call of a lifetime, wherein Michelle said, "I can now offer representation." The best five words on the planet.

Jen said...

Great post! Always so inspiring!! I love Elana and can't wait for her to visit my blog ;)

Jenkins: Our Family said...

Elana, your story is so inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

Kelly said...

Thanks for sharing your stats, Elana! And thanks for sharing Elana with us, Sara!

Sara B. Larson said...

Kelly - you are welcome, I'm just thrilled she was willing to do it. :-)

Elana - that fifth call definitely must have warranted a scream or two (of happiness) right?? ;-) I was so terrified that my call was going to be a "let's revise it and see how it goes" type of call. So nervewracking!

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Great guest post. Thanks for sharing Elana. As always inspirational words. I'm gonna finish strong. :)

Sandy Shin said...

Thank you for this, Elana -- and thanks for hosting Elana, Sara! You are truly an inspiration, Elana. :)

Lisa_Gibson said...

Elana is a total rock star! Great post as well Sara! :)

Lisa K. said...

Thank you for sharing this, Elana. It's so encouraging, and just what I needed to hear after a rough writing week. You're a shining example of dedication and forward motion, and I appreciate that you share that with us.

Larissa said...

Great post! Thanks for the encouragement, Elana! And thanks for having her, Sara! :)

brian_ohio said...

This is wonderful. I can honestly relate to Elana's numbers... getting my first agent took over 200 queries and 18 months. And a year later she dropped me!!! Ugh!

But I 'Finished Strong' and have another agent and a book on submission.

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Elana: You always inspire me. And I love your point about it not being a race. In fact, I don't see it as a competition at all. It doesn't matter who sells faster or bigger than you. Just focus on yourself, keep going, and finish as strong as YOU can. Thanks so much for the reminder. And thanks to Sara for posting.

(BTW Sara--how was I not following your blog???? Major #shannonfail. Have corrected the problem now. *waves from the back of the room*)

Sara B. Larson said...

Thanks for all the comments everyone! As you know, I agree that Elana is made of awesome.

Brian - whoa, that is rough! I'm so glad you hung in there. What is your book about?

Shannon - for some reason, even though I got an email notifying me that you left a comment, it hasn't shown up. But I'm glad you're following me now. *waves back*

Sara B. Larson said...

Oh nevermind, now that I posted my comment, Shannon's is showing up. Wierdness. ;)

Elle Strauss said...

The pursuit of publication is not for the faint of heart and Elana is proof of that.

Thanks for the stats!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for sharing your stats to inspire us.

Laura Marcella said...

Love this; it's so inspiring and motivating! Thanks for the encouragement, Elana! And thanks, Sara, for hosting her!

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Yay Elana for sticking it out and inspiring so many writers!

Jennie Bailey said...

Sara, YOU are amazing! Thanks so much to Elana for sharing and to you for posting. FINISH STRONG. Love it!

Sara B. Larson said...

Elle - it is definitely not for the faint of heart, I agree. Rejection is rough. It's so inspiring to see what others (like Elana) have been through

Laura - You're very welcome!

Jennie - Thank you!! :-)

Rebecca said...

So, I've got a long way to go because my novel-in-verse has only been rejected three times.

Thanks for the encouraging words (and numbers).

Carolyn V. said...

Oh, I love Elana! She rocks! Great post Sara.

Faith said...

Oh my gosh... oh my gosh. I just sat and stared at those stats for a few minutes and felt tears come to my eyes because of the HOPE that blossomed. It's so true, it's not a race. It just takes that one YES, no matter how many rejections come before it.

I feel oddly refreshed and excited. I think I might print out these stats and look at them on those days when I doubt why I'm even bothering with this dream.

Thank you SO much, Elana. I wish you all the best as your hard work at getting to this point pays off with your book deal!!!

Cheree said...

Elana is just awesomsauce. Seeing those stats is a little bit more encouraging. You just have to keep at it.

Kris said...

How inspirational! I fear with stats like that I might have been tempted to give up.

Thanks for sharing, Elana, and thanks for posting, Sara!

Terresa said...

Fab post, Love Love Elana. Nice to meet you, too, Sara.

Melissa said...

What an inspiring post. I wasn't even having a bad day but I feel infinitely better after reading this post. Thank you so much for posting Sara! And Elana, wow. All I have to say is I'm in awe of your wisdom!

Shawntelle Madison said...

Great post! I completely agree. All it takes is one person to connect with your work.

Elana Johnson said...

Thanks everyone. So if you ever feel like quitting, just shoot me an email. I'll make you feel better. :)

Terri Tiffany said...

189 queries!!!Wow~ I guess my number of 15 isn't so impressive now, is it?

Katie said...

Well there ya go! That's the Elana I know with my favorite motto, FINISH STRONG!

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Wow. Thanks for the guest interview Sara.
Elana, thanks for sharing your stats, and great advice.

Lisa Gail Green said...

What a great post! It means so much no matter where you are on the journey!

Christine Fonseca said...

Love it Elana - everytime you tell me!

Steph said...

Awesome, awesome post! I really needed to hear this today, as I shoveled Ben & Jerry's... thanks Elana!

WhisperingWriter said...

Thank you for this.

Seriously, I'm having a low day today. I received TWO more form rejections within an hour of each other which makes my total rejections up to 20. But this post reminded me to keep going. And I will.

B.J. Anderson said...

I bow down to you, Queen of Awesomesauce.

houndrat said...

Awesome post! I think we all *do* need the reminder from time to time that it's not a race. Also--YAYYYYYY for Oreos! :D

Katie Ganshert said...

Ah, this is an inspiring post! Thanks for sharing your stats, Elana, girl! Definitely helps me put my waiting in perspective! (which I'm still doing....argh!)

Solvang Sherrie said...

Oh man, thank you for posting those numbers! That is so encouraging to know!! You rock!! I won't give up!!

Stephanie Thornton said...

Thanks for the great interview! Elana is the best cheerleader I've ever found on the blogosphere.

T. Anne said...

Elana you just made me feel miles better. Can I tell you we're neck in neck with novels written? Almost with queries, but I might have you beat. ;) Thank you. I'm not quitting.

Julie Musil said...

WOW. Elana's stats are so great for the rest of us to see. I know, I know, we all get rejected, but it really does help to see those stats. I promise, I won't quit!

christa said...

FINISH STRONG brought my WHO DAT SAINTS all the way to and through the Super Bowl, so it obviously works!

Jemi Fraser said...

Finish strong - sounds like a good mantra :) Great post Elana!

Karen Lange said...

Excellent. Thanks Elana, for the encouragement, and thanks Sara for hosting her.

Wicked-Sassy said...

Absolutely inspiring, Elana. I'm with you on that :)

Cindy said...

Great post and very inspirational. The journey is different for everyone but the only way you'll make it is if you don't quit.

WritingNut said...

This is a wonderful post Sara! :)

And Elana - very inspirational! Thanks for sharing these numbers - it reminds the rest of us that we can make it - we just need to stick with it and finish and never give up.

kidsbookjunky said...

Thanks awesome, thanks Elana and Sara!

Molly Hall said...

This is so wonderfully amazing. Thanks for taking the time to share those factoids. They really bring home the truth that you just have to find the right fit. And finish strong! Here I go!!!

Elana Johnson said...

A big thanks to Sara for asking me and hosting me. I'm so glad my stats help someone. <3

Angela Ackerman said...

Elana, thank you for sharing this, and showing once again that you are a force to be reckoned with!

*waves pom poms*

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Erica Chapman said...

Love Elana! What a great post. Very encouraging and honest.

Thanks Sara!

foldingfields said...

Thanks so much! Really needed that, Elana. Sara, will be following your progress. ;)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great post! I'm pasting it on my office (bedroom) wall to keep me going during querying. :D

Jess said...

You're absolutely right: this WAS amazing! Thanks!!

Angie said...

Elana is totally an inspiration! Way to go. Thanks for the great post.

Marjorie said...

This is a great post. Thanks.

Lola Sharp said...

Great choice, Sara, having Elana guest post, and put up the numbers. :)

Elana, you know I adore you, but I love you even more for your honesty. I think you really inspired a lot of aspiring authors with this post.
(that was a lot of 'spire' in that sentence)

Keep on keeping it real, yo! :)

Love,
Lola

Valerie Ipson said...

Hey, Elana. Great post. I'm struggling to "finish strong" my manuscript. It's hard to get it all in one cohesive piece. I haven't even begun to query.

Janiel said...

Wow. Thanks for the reality check and the encouragement, Elana and Sara. Time to ratchet in the day dreams and keep on plugging.

Good luck to everyone. What wonderful, real people the writing world is filled with! :)

Natalie Zaman said...

This was something I really needed to read today. Thanks Elena and Sara <3