QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Monday, June 28, 2010

Goals Make Dreams Reality: Guest Blogger Danyelle Leafty

Our guest blogger, Danyelle Leafty, has been an active member of the QT community for a while now. She is a positive, generous and talented member of our forum over on the main QueryTracker.net site.

Goals by Danyelle Leafty

A dream is a wish your heart makes, when you're fast asleep...

And we all have dreams, right?

I dream that one day I will be caught up on housework. That I will be able to cook gourmet meals that everyone will not only eat, but love to eat. That I will be able to find those important papers WHEN I need them, and not a week later.

And then there are other dreams--the ones I know can come true.

One day I will be published. I will be the best mom and wife I can be, because I will be the best person I can be--and my capacity for "bestness" will change based on a whole slew of things including atmospheric pressure, and it's okay. I will have a full, happy life, no matter what I get hit with. I will celebrate. I will find joy.

But how to turn these dreams into a reality? For me, the first step is positive thinking.

If I don't believe it's going to happen, it won't. (Except for rare cases like laundry, dirty dishes, and taxes.) I have to believe that, while things may not turn out exactly how I envision them from the beginning, that they'll happen. Because not believing in your own dreams is like slamming the oven door on a delicate soufflé. There is no substitute for believing in yourself. Your family can't do it. Your friends can't do it. Your associates and neighbors can't do it.

But they can help when the storm clouds roll in and you watch the waters begin to rise. They can help plug those tiny leaks in the roof that you hadn't noticed before. They can help fill sandbags and lay them out. And if worse comes to worse, they can bring along a bucket and a boat if you need to bail or make a quick getaway.

But something that really struck me, was the need for goals.

A dream is just a wish until it's written down. Then it becomes a goal and has a chance of turning into a reality.

To be honest, my publishing goal was modest. My goal is to find an agent that I connect with who will then find a publisher that will love my project. *clears throat* And then I will have to figure out how to find an audience who will be willing to help support my book habits.

But all that changed while I was at a writing conference. I was listening to a panel of authors that were all doing very well for themselves, one of whom happened to be Aprilynne Pike. They were talking about the pros and cons of having an agent and going with a larger or smaller press.

I perked up at this point, because if the agent plan didn't pan out, I was considering going with a smaller press. And then she brought up that GOAL word. Deciding where and to whom you submit to has a lot to do not only with the industry, but with your goals.

From the outset, she wanted to be a very successful author that reached a larger audience. (I can't remember completely, but she might have mentioned something about the NYT Bestseller list.) And a small press, with that goal in mind, wouldn't work as well as finding an agent who would then submit to one of the bigger publishing houses. This also meant that she had to write to that broader audience.

I thought this was brilliant advice, and decided to follow it. I've found that having a goal to be published by one of the bigger houses and possibly make NYT Bestsellerdom changes the way I look at writing. If I want to reach a broad audience, I can't just write for myself. Make no mistake, I still write from my heart, but I do so consciously. I have a story to tell (lots of them, actually), and darn it, I want to reach the most people I can. Not because I want my head on a postage stamp, but because I believe I have something of value, and I want to share. (That, and have you seen how many awesome books have come out lately? :p)

Having this goal has also shaped how I'm approaching the agent hunting as well. Rejections, while not a barrel full of fun, don't sting the way they used to. Because my goal has changed. I'm not just wanting an agent, I'm wanting to find my agent. The one who will believe in me when nobody else (in the industry) does. An agent who will get my work, love it, and help me take it to the next level. Not just someone who likes my work enough to take a chance. I finally get the whole falling in love thing.

So when those rejections come, its more like sitting in a shoe store surrounded by shoes and tissue paper rather than sitting against the wall at prom. The rejections aren't cute boys avoiding eye contact and shuffling past at high speeds, leaving me to wonder if I used enough deodorant or if I forgot to tame the unibrow. No, it's more like trying on a shoe and finding that it doesn't fit as well as I'd hoped.

But somewhere under all that tissue paper is the one shoe. The one that will not only fit, but will work so well that I will feel as though I'm walking on clouds because I can't feel the hard ground anymore.

So, back to dreams.

Want to have your dreams come true? Then pick the ones that must come true--that you will see through to the end whether it's bitter or sweet. Believe in yourself, and find lots of people (also called friends) that can help buoy you up and believe in you when your well runs dry. Write down your dream, thus changing it from a vague wisp of wonderfulness into something that can breathe in reality. Write those goals down to make them real and to remind yourself when you need it most.

Because goals not only have the power to change your perspective, they have the power to change the world.


* * *

We appreciate Danyelle agreeing to be our guest today. You can read more from and about Danyelle on her blog.

The QT team wishes everyone a happy and productive week.


Unknown said...

I love the shoe-shopping analogy. I'm off to check out Danyelle's blog--thanks for the guest post!

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

GREAT post, Danyelle! I really enjoyed it - and I've been looking at my own goals differently, too, since hearing Aprilynne speak. I can write books from the heart that are important to me and yet still write ones that will get on the bestseller lists. We can't CONTROL that those things happen, but we can certainly work toward them. :-)

Lydia Kang said...

I love the shoe analogy! That totally works for me, and takes the sting out of the rejections I know I'll get.
Thanks for guest posting!!!!

roh morgon said...

Thank you so much for your inspirational post. It comes at a time when doubts are clawing at my throat that a project I've been working on for quite some time has even a glimmer of a chance to be published.

My life motto is "Persistence Pays" - apparently I forgot that yesterday during a particularly low moment.

Thanks for reminding me to have faith in myself and my work.

Suzette Saxton said...

Wonderful post! It's nice to have you guest blogging for us. =)

Angie said...

Wonderful post, Danyelle! I love the shoe store analogy. I was at that panel, too. In fact, I was sitting next to you. :) I think it affected me in the same way, except maybe in a different direction, because I got to thinking that what I'm really passionate about writing may not be NYT Bestseller material, so maybe I want to set my goals in a different direction. Good luck with all your dreams. I know you can make them come true! *Hugs!*

Stina said...

I love this line: The rejections aren't cute boys avoiding eye contact and shuffling past at high speeds, leaving me to wonder if I used enough deodorant or if I forgot to tame the unibrow.

I loved this post when I read it on Danyelle's blog, and I still think it's great.

Good luck, Danyelle, on reaching your dreams. :D

Carolyn V. said...

Beautiful Danyelle! I know you'll reach your dream! =)

Danyelle L. said...

Thanks, Kristi! Good to meet you. :)

Great point, Kimberley. I think working towards them is half the battle.

Thanks, Lydia! Thinking about writing that way takes the sting out for me too.

Hang in there, Roh. :) Persistence does pay. Publishing is a hard business. Good luck!

Thanks, Suzette. It was good to be here! :D

*waves to Angie* That's what I really liked about the panel. It wasn't so much about what goals we should or should not have, but to figure out what we want--what we're passionate about--and make goals to reach it. *hugs* Good luck to you too!

Thanks, Stina. On both counts. :D *cookies*

Thanks, Carolyn! :D (And thanks for the confidence cookies. ;-))

Amy Laurens said...

Cute picture, Dani! :D

I love this article. The shoe-shopping analogy is one I'm seriously going to print out and attach to the cover of my laptop when I get to the querying stage :D Thanks for sharing :o)

Jackee said...

Wonderful, Danyelle! I love this positive thinking. All well said.

And I agree about goal setting then taking the daily pains to work towards them.

Thanks for sharing!

Silke said...

"If I don't believe it's going to happen, it won't."
You must know my father. :P It's precisely what he says.
(And you should know my Dad is always right. It's an unshakable law of the universe. Or something.)

The thing with dreams is, just believing it will happen isn't enough. You will have to get up off that rear you keep in the chair and those hands on the keyboard -- and pursue the dream.
No one will knock on your door on the off-chance you might be the next Hemingway.
No, you'll have to go to them and tell them you have something they want.
I used to be scared of submitting. I'm not anymore. I've survived the first rejections and I'm becoming an old hat at this query lark. :)
So yeah... I'll amend the statement a little. (Sorry Dad!)
"If you believe it will happen and pursue your dream, it will come true."
So many people have dreams. But dreams don't come true without the dreamer putting some effort into making it come true.
The fact we're on the QT blog means I'm preaching to the choir, though. :)

Eric W. Trant said...

Awesome advice -- make goals, and believe in yourself!

I tend to make microgoals with the intent of reaching a larger goal.

For your example of hitting the bestseller's list, I don't even make that a goal. I call widespread publication the sum result of a dozen microgoals, any of which can pass or fail.

For a while I looked for an agent. As an unpublished writer with a small body of work, I found the going tough. I was afraid I was either wasting time, or would end up with a hack-job agent, or worse yet, out of frustration fall victim to POD or self-publishing (which are not my goals).

So I quit looking. I focused on short stories. I managed to get a couple published and am now working with a small publisher. Publishing a book with a small publisher may not net me the bestseller list, but it will net me an invaluable feather in my cap.

See that feather there? When I'm looking for an agent for my book -- one I may not have written yet -- then I'll be able to say that I understand the marketing, editing, the target audience, how to handle critiques and deadlines, how to be patient and professional. I demonstrated longevity, predictability, and loyalty to one publisher.

Believing is a huge step, but I like to keep my expectations realistic. I don't expect to show up, try out, and make the pros.

- Eric

Danyelle L. said...

Thanks, Amy, and you're welcome. :D

Thanks, Jackee! I think breaking up big goals into smaller, daily goals really helps me reach for those bigger ones that seem so impossible at first.

Very good point, Silke. Without action, all the goals in the world will still not get you anywhere. Success requires a lot of elbow grease. ;-)

Great point, Eric, and one I'm going to have to blog about. While goals and expectations are related, for me, they aren't the same. Realistic goals are key for not getting frustrated and giving up. And realistic goals can only depend on the person. Setting and meeting a word count is realistic, whereas expecting to be a NYT bestseller is not as an author can never force people to buy their books.

However, a writer (with the goal of hitting a wide audience appeal which is what I think of when I think NYT bestseller) does have the power to write something that would appeal to a wide audience. Or not. It's all about the writer's goals and passions. That, for me, is what's most important in the end--especially when it comes to determining what we really want and working towards that. :)

Melody said...

Thank you for this encouragement! Much of this I learned in network marketing, and it has helped tremendously in my writing pursuit. :)

BSC said...

I always get that I'm biased because I'm married to this great soon to be author. I guess I could give her that, but seeing that there are so many people out there that love her writing, I don't think me loving her writing can be a matter of not wanting to be in the dog hOuse or getting smacked by a pillow. She's just simply a superb writer. She'll be published someday soon and then the book buying can commence. I hope you know that BSC loves you cutez.

Vonna said...

It is so refreshing to read such a positive blog post. I have no doubt you will reach your goals.