The Slow Loris Road to Publishing

I’m what you might call the slow loris of book publishing.

 Are you familiar with the slow loris? I know it sounds like a Dr. Seuss character, but the slow loris is actually a real animal – a tiny primate with big, puppy-dog brown eyes and a round head (so far, nothing in common with me, in case you’re wondering). The slow loris is also described as a slow and deliberate climber.

Yup, that’s me: the slow, deliberate climber.

It took me two and a half years to write my first (and at this point, only) book. In my defense, I also had a toddler and a newborn at the time, as well as a part-time job, so I wrote only in the very early mornings and in the evenings, after the kids were tucked into bed. I wrote every day, slowly and deliberately ticking off chapters one by one until I had a completed manuscript. I marvel at writers who crank out two or three books in a single year. I know people that do this, and they are very good, fast writers. I am not. I am methodical, and my editing is nothing short of painfully laborious.

After I finished writing and editing my book, it took me another two years to land an agent. Again, I was slow and deliberate in the querying process. I purchased The Guide to Literary Agents and The Christian Writers’ Market Guide, and scoured the exhaustive lists of agents, categorizing each with the letters A, B or C. “A” designated a top-choice agent; “B” were the agents I considered good, but second-tier; and “C” was reserved for those I might query in desperation. I researched the agents online and then crafted a personal query letter for each. I queried most of my “A” list and some on the “B” list before Rachelle Gardner (top of the “A” list, by the way) offered me a contract (truth be told, I queried her twice).

 “Whew!” I thought, after I’d finished cartwheeling across the living room the day Rachelle offered me representation. “Now the process will finally start moving along! Let’s roll, baby!”

I assumed once the manuscript was out of my slow loris hands (claws?) that the pace would accelerate.

That was last February.

My memoir has not yet sold to a publisher. I’m not saying it won’t sell eventually. I am simply stating that in the nearly 365 days since I accepted representation from Rachelle, it hasn’t sold. As it turns out, Rachelle chooses the slow loris approach, too, if the market demands it. Sometimes, as she noted in a recent post, publishers aren’t in the market for a particular genre (in this case, memoir), so she puts the manuscript aside and patiently waits for a better opportunity.

I admit, being the slow loris is frustrating at times. I see some of my favorite authors publish one book, and then a second, and I wonder, “What about me? What about my book? Why doesn’t my book sell?” Doubt creeps in. And insecurity. I begin to question my ability as a writer, my story, even my choice to pursue this publishing dream.  I contemplate ditching writing all together and taking up needlepoint.

In the end, though, I continue to stick with it. After all, slow lorises, in addition to their slow, deliberate climbing skills, are also known for their ability to cling to a tree in one spot for an exceptionally long period of time, patiently waiting for the perfect meal to wander into proximity.

“Everything in its own time,” Rachelle reminds me.

I’m patient. I can wait.  I am a slow loris.

{For the record, the slow loris is also the only mammal with a toxic bite. Just saying.}

What animal would you choose as a metaphor for your journey to publishing or your writing style {please don’t say cheetah or I may die a little inside}?

25 thoughts on “The Slow Loris Road to Publishing

  1. Hi Michelle, My first novel, from the first word until purchase by a publisher, took 9 years of writing, rewriting and waiting. Definitely slow loris! But it took off like a cheetah once purchased, sold around the world, and for 6 books, I was a star. Then life happened (desperate parent care needs) and I didn’t have the time to write – for years. My genre “died” and I had to really decide who I was as a writer. I know that God used this bump in my road to point me more toward Him in my writing. Now I’m slow loris again. And learning so much. And trying so hard not to wish for another cheetah in my life – just God’s timing.

    Thank you for a great post!

    • Wow, Sue, what a great story. I am so heartened by your journey…and I so relate to your comment about trying not to wish for a cheetah and to simply rely on and trust in God’s timing instead. Was just praying for that very same trust this morning!

      God’s blessings to you as you make your slow sloris way in publishing again. I’m right there with you!

  2. I’m convinced it’s the slow loris that’s going to get the worm. Yep, me the bird, and you the slow loris, we’re going get the worms! (Why does that not sound so appealing all of a sudden?) 😀
    ~ Wendy

  3. Michelle, thank you for your words today. I find myself in the waiting process too. I’ve done pretty well for a while, but today I just wanted to give up, throw a pity party, or a combination of both. So your words were well-timed and just what I needed to hear. I am determined to wait well! I think that will make the hoped-for contract that much sweeter if/when it comes.

  4. Mine was a nine year journey from beginning to publication. Looking back, I can see God’s perfecct timing and direction every step of the way (couldn’t always see when I was in the middle of it). He brought the right mentors and coaches, the best critique partners and encouragers across my path at the exact right times. He is awesome and I give Him the glory.

    • Henry, what a beautiful story of faith, hope and perseverance. Thank you for sharing it here. It so often works that way doesn’t it? I have 20/20 God vision in hindsight when I look back and see the myriad ways He has guided me a various points in my life. A very good point — thank you!

  5. Oh, I believe you wrote this just for me. I am a slow loris too. Surely, it is no coincidence that today I struggling with getting the “query thing” together. What a process. I am working on being patient with myself. Some days are much better than others. Thank you for writing a post that met me right where I am today.

  6. Hmmm…

    For writing and publishing, Cheetah might not be too bad a description actually. My book started out as a series of Sunday school lessons, that eventually grew into a book that I decided to self-publish.

    As it turned out that whole part of the process took less than six months from the first Sunday school lesson to the publication. Yes, I was quite obsessive for a while and drove my wife nuts with all the time I spent writing, proofing, rewriting, etc. on evenings and weekends.

    But then…the time beforehand…I spent over ten years developing the concepts and studying the topic before I ever even ventured to bring it up in Sunday school.

    And since then, it has definitely been slow-loris mode on the marketing end of things…

    Maybe like an extremely patient cheetah, that stalks it’s prey forever and a day before that rapid burst of lightning speed…followed by more patient waiting.

    Hopefully, all in God’s time, for you as well as for me… ;^)

  7. There are lots of cliched illustrations that I hear about… the slow and steady tortoise that wins the race, the flash in the pan that isn’t to be envied, the industrious ant and his carefree grasshopper buddies… but I haven’t found an analogy that fits me yet. I keep reminding myself that God has a plan or I wouldn’t have been led in this direction, so I persevere and am reassured that one day “I’ll do it my way!”, whatever that way is. 🙂

    • I remind myself of that daily, too — that God has a plan for me and that it’s my job to trust Him. It all comes to trust, doesn’t it?

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts here!

  8. Hi Rach
    thanks for sharing the metaphor and the uber cute pic of the Loris! When i first heard the invitation to write – to take it seriously ..and that was nine years ago..i had to wade through relearning, doubt, dying and then surprise! i published titles i did not even intend to write at first for i did not feel at all qualified!
    i think i’m a wandering, wondering snail that gets stuck at the top of the mailbox, wonders where I am and need to be rescued to a safer spot every so often!

  9. Michelle,

    I just read your post today (a couple days after the fact), so I guess you could say I’m a slow loris when it comes to post-reading too. 🙂

    Thanks. God used it to remind me that we can only do so much in a day. It’s easy to compare with the Cheetahs in the world, but that never helps…

    We simply need to be diligent for the Lord, whatever our speed, and let Him do the rest.

    I pray the Lord’s favor over your memoir. I hope you’ll include something about contentment with your slow loris-ness.

    Bless you!

  10. In my opinion, slow and steady is a good way to approach the marathon life of writing.

    Just Starting the Journey,
    Suzanne

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