publishing · Writing

The Fallacy of “It Only Takes One Yes”

The other day, I asked an author friend of mine about her most recent manuscript.

“Oh, that one? It’s dead. No one wants it and my past publisher held on to it for six months before finally telling me they weren’t going to move forward with it.”

This friend has, in the past, sold two books to that publisher. But since then her agent left the business and she is now on her own and without a publisher, but with a book she believes in that she can’t share with the world.

I tell this story to reveal the continuing challenges behind being an author, even after what seems to be a successful launch of a career.

So often, writer friends who are deep in the trenches of rejection-city get told, “it only takes one ‘YES’!”

Look, I’m an optimist, but I sort of want to throw things at people who tell this to me because I had an agent who said, “YES” and then all the publishers said, “NO” and then later my agent effectively said, “NO”. The truth is that if you want to traditionally publish with a “find-your-book-on-a-bookstore-shelf” publisher, you need a lot of YESes to get there.

Definitely more than one.

And now some of you want to point out to me that what people really mean when they say “it only takes one YES” is the idea that the one YES is what sees us through. When an agent requests your full manuscript to read, that is joyful and hopeful. When you receive an offer of representation, that YES it one step closer to your goal. And when the first editor says “YES” and passes it on to their acquisitions team, the hope and joy increase exponentially. And if the publisher buys it? Then that one “YES” is euphoric.

“It only takes one YES” is incremental encouragement. The one to help someone keep going. To not give up.

It’s probably helpful to a lot of people. It used to be helpful for me.

But a high five to all of you who now simply find it annoying because the people giving that specific encouragement are almost certainly the ones who got ALL the YESes. (And are still getting them. Ha.)

Are you surprised by my reaction? Me too, a little, but here’s where I’m going to tell you my final thing: my one “YES”? It was the one I gave myself. Do I want people to read my words?


Can I make that happen myself?


It might not be easy and it might not be the same kind of success I originally envisioned, but is it worth it to give it my all, to believe in myself?


Currently Reading (print): Red Thread of Fate – Lyn Liao Butler (A)

Currently Reading (audo): Debt of Honor – Tom Clancy (A)

Song of the Week: To me, Pink always embodies empowerment, which I think offers excellent encouragement and a this one is a great example of YES.

What do you think? I'd love to discuss!

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