• Timing vs. Quality: The Writer as Product

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in WBN News & Events     Comments 1 comment

    by T.J. Jansen

    WhateverAs a fairly new hand to writing for fun and profit, I don’t have a lot of preconceptions to fight with. When those who’ve been down the road before tell me they were rejected numerous times before success, I believe them. I believe the road will be arduous, and that I’ll likely get discouraged and want to quit at some point along the way.

    I have no reason not to.

    But I may have a deep-rooted strategic advantage many of my compatriots lacked–I’ve had a sales job my entire adult life. This means that I already get rejected about 100 times a day. That is a large part of what sales is about: digging through the desert of angry, underpaid and underappreciated business owners to find that diamond who is willing to listen. There is a sales adage that states most sales are made on the 5th call, but most salespeople quit at the third. Pressing through the discomfort is what winners do.

    As much as business owners hate salespeople, they also love them, because we are their pressure release valve. All day long they deal with clients who have ridiculous demands and unrealistic expectations, and they have to smile and nod politely, all the while wanting to choke the idiots. The pressure becomes unbearable, and just in time the guy trying to sell them payroll services walks in. Pressure release, anyone? The guy walks out bowlegged and the owner now has the capability of getting through the rest of his day.

    In the above case, it’s not the salesman getting rejected–it’s his timing and product. But to reject my writing is, fundamentally, a rejection of me, as I am the product; my words like ducklings following me in a line. I love them all, even the ugly one. Timing is harder to gauge, because even terrible sellers can trip into a gold mine, but that is usually a one-time thing. Product is key, as even terrible sellers can move an inventory of iPhones…the things sell themselves.

    Unfortunately we have no magic widget in writing. There were “boy goes to wizard school” books before Harry Potter, and there have been more since, but none with the same impact. Harry won because Harry was better. Sure it caught the market at the right time, but the success was due to product. Many writers tell stories of an agent or editor rejecting something, then getting it again later and grabbing hold of it. We remember those times, not because they are common, but because they are rare.

    Timing is no small thing, but it can’t be counted on. All we can count on is quality.


    Tyler JansenT.J. Jansen is an aspiring writer, part time web designer, full time sales executive and all the time husband and father of three (he also home-brews). The man loves college basketball (he went to Duke), RPGs (the gaming kind, not the rocket kind) and Patrick Rothfuss (platonically, of course). He also enjoys the excessive use of parenthesis (obviously). 

    He started writing because the voices in his head wouldn’t shut up about it. Giving in only made it worse. A veritable forest of short stories in his wake, T.J. is now working on the first novel of an urban fantasy series. You can follow his ramblings on twitter @tyjj

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    Martin Barkley

    In a former life, I worked as support staff for a bullpen of sales “executives.” Over time, I figured out they were called “executives” because, as a bunch of cry-baby prima donnas, they needed any excuse they could find to feel better about themselves; to my mind, though, they weren’t really executives. No, I always thought of them as people who were bad listeners, people who took their sales training (i.e., indoctrination) way too seriously, who couldn’t have a real conversation, and who couldn’t live in the present moment if their lives depended on such deliberate introspection. But, T.J., if… Read more »

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