A Literary Agent Can’t Replace Hard Work

Many times I’ve had editing clients worry that they don’t have the talent to do a story justice or that they’re not talented enough to be a writer. But talent is over-rated. Talent can contribute to success, but it isn’t the most important thing.

I have a guest poster here today to share the secret of what the most important thing is.


A Literary Agent Can’t Replace Hard Work

By Bryan Cohen

1,000 Creative Writing Prompts Volume 2 CoverI’m writing this post after having a two-hour conversation with a friend, who also happens to be a New York Times best-selling author. My friend has an agent with a very reputable agency and he’s been published with one of the major publishing houses. We touched on many different topics during our chat about writing and life, including what his agent, editor and other publishing professionals have done for him. He had nothing but high praise for everyone who helped his book to sell tens of thousands of copies. He saved all of his negative comments for himself.

My friend said he didn’t do everything he needed to make sure his book was a lasting success. He said he didn’t lay the ground work of creating sign-up form for a mailing list on his website before the book was released. He said he’d given up on sending queries to magazines and other publications because he wasn’t immediately welcomed with open arms. My friend wasn’t talking about the changing industry or the lack of a marketing push from his publisher. He had trouble getting himself to do the hard work he needed to do to become successful.

A part of me was surprised by what he said. I considered asking him why his agent, editor and publishing house didn’t do the work for him. That’s when I realized that all those publishing professionals are in the business of selling books. They aren’t the ones who help authors to build a brand or a legacy. Authors need to do the work themselves.

Something common in almost any profession is that the people who work the hardest and the smartest are the ones who rise to the top. As writers, we like to think that getting an agent, an editor and a publishing contract would ensure our only requirement was the fun stuff. The truth is that even with all those ducks in a row, the nose to the grindstone hard work needs to be there to reach the highest levels of success.

While my author friend and I both shared advice and tricks of the trade (him from publishing, me from self-publishing) during our chat, the most important thing I took was the perspective. No matter where you are and no matter what stage you’ve reached in the game, hard work is the best way to propel yourself forward. Set some goals, create a plan and put in the time required. Treat the work as its own reward and you’re bound to get added spoils on the way to the top. 

Bryan Cohen Author of 1,000 Creative Writing PromptsAbout the Author

In honor of his new book, Cohen is hosting the “1,000 Prompts, 1,000 Dollars” Writing Contest on his website. Click the link to find out how to enter!

Bryan Cohen is an author, a creativity coach and an actor. His new book, 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, Volume 2: More Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More is now available on Amazon in digital and paperback format. His other books include 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, The Post-College Guide to Happiness, and Ted Saves the World. He has published over 30 books, which have sold more than 20,000 copies in total. Connect with him on his website, Build Creative Writing Ideas, on Facebook or on Twitter.

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