Patience is a Virtual Virtue

When I was young, I had no time for patience, the same as most children. Later, during my first year of college, I lost my five page writing assignment to the dreaded computer crash. I learned a few things from that incident. After I had recovered from the shock and terror of having lost my paper the night before it was due, I realized that under the gun, I could type pretty quickly.

That night I re-wrote the entire paper, and you know what?

My re-write was better than the previous “final” draft. Always having had some talent for writing since I was a child, I had convinced myself previously to this computer accident that my words came out like magical faerie dust that was perfect the moment it hit the paper.

This accident taught me that the re-write was the thing. The first draft was where the bones were set down, but the subsequent drafts are where the craftsmanship and the artistry came into play. After that night, I re-wrote and edited all of my work.

Even today, I rewrite my blog posts, and even many of my more important e-mails. The tangential lesson I learned back then was to have patience with the process of writing and with things in general.


Since that day, as I’ve gotten older I’ve become more patient with some things and less so with others.

One certainly needs patience to actually write a novel. That’s a given. And the traditional publishing process itself requires a lot of patience, that’s for sure, especially with genre fiction.

Send off a query letter to one of three publishers who accept unsolicited, unrepresented manuscripts and then wait anywhere from a month to seven months for, more often than not, a form rejection letter.

The Internet and e-mail have sped up this process considerably, but the whole thing still requires patience.

By the time I hit 46 years of age, I figured I had learned all I needed to know about being patient. I was wrong. I never really knew about patience (it turns out) until I entered the electronic publishing arena. Publishing the book in Amazon’s Kindle store is ok. Fairly quick process overall. Patience needed? Zilch.

Waiting for someone to purchase you first few copies?

WHITTIER-Ad-WdPress2Well, maybe I was lucky with my first book. I sold 21 copies in the first two weeks and gave away almost 300 free copies via digital download during  a weekend promotion.

But waiting for the first review? Especially when my novel is about 150,000 words?

Frustrating, to say the least. Then waiting for additional copies to be purchased after the initial well dried up? Also frustrating.

How many times do new authors reload their Amazon Kindle reports page? Answer. As many times as they are able.

One thing for new authors to note, is that digital launches on Amazon are much different than a launch of a traditional book in bookstores. Amazon supports your book and pushes it out to folks who have shown interest in similar books, but in general, your book goes into a huge virtual pile of other Kindle e-books, all vying for the attention of Amazon buyers.

I don’t yet know the answer as to what affects whether one novel rises out of the electronic mist to become a best (or even a decent) seller or not.

When I find out, I will tell you. One thing I do know, however, is that patience will continue to be a virtual virtue that most of us have no choice but to exercise whether we like it or not.


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