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Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Take a Chance

Take a chance on me
 Take a chance, take a chance, take a chance on me 

 If you’re not familiar with the group ABBA, you also have probably never heard the catchy tune that includes those lyrics. As writers, however, we need to take a chance. In fact, we need to take lots of chances.

                                                                 imge by Pixabay

Each time we send a query to agents or publishers, we’re taking a chance. Sometimes we send dozens and dozens of queries and get frustrated. After so many rejections, we’re tempted to quit. So many rejections make us think we’re never going to get a yes. However, after more than 120 queries, I got a “I’d love to publish your book.” If I had quit at 119 (or so), I wouldn’t have a publishing contract now.  

Take a chance. 

I asked a nationally-known expert on the Tulsa Race Massacre to read my soon-to-be-published book. (She and I have presented at conferences.) My hope was she’d give me a (positive) blurb I could use on the book. She (politely) said no, for a couple of reasons. Then when I asked the executive director of the Greenwood Cultural Center if she wouldn’t mind reading my book, she said yes. She might not like it, she might not be able to give me a usable blurb… and yet I took a chance. 

 Take a chance on me (and my work). 

 I needed a cover for my book that’s about to birthed. I can’t illustrate, and I know nothing about graphic arts, so there was no way I could do it. I do, however, know a teacher-artist friend who does amazing work in multiple mediums. I asked her to read my manuscript and design a cover (for pay, of course). She had never done a book cover before. There was the chance that she’d read my book and think, ‘It sucks,’ but she didn’t. What she did do was create an incredible cover. There was also a (small) chance that I’d see the final artwork and feel disappointed. I didn’t. What I did see blew me away. 

Take a chance. 

Beginning a new project when another one is almost finished is the MO for some writers. You know, the keep-the-momentum-going strategy. Always have a couple of projects you’re juggling. I began a new manuscript a year ago, and it’s gotten stuck in a major puddle of quicksand. In a true groove with the prior piece, I keep struggling with this one. The more I flail my arms around, the deeper I sink. There might be another option: I have a picture book that got some feedback from Margo Dill a while ago. (This is my oldest project. It was going to get published, and then the publisher disappeared, leaving behind lots of unhappy authors.) I set it aside. Maybe working on the picture book--something different from a novel--will help me later get into the right frame of mind for the novel. 

Take a chance on working on something different. 

I had a sucky title for my book. It lacked pizazz. I reached out to some people, and one writer friend gave me the perfect title. 

Take a chance. 

Take a chance on submitting. On reaching out to people for blurbs or to be a beta reader. On devoting time on a once-old-and-now-new project. On getting help with a title. You might not be successful, but if you don’t try, you’re guaranteeing you’ll fail. 

What are you taking a chance on lately?

Sioux Roslawski is a freelance writer and the author of the middle-grade novel Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story (coming soon, in the spring). She teaches middle school literature and writing during the day, and rescues dogs on the weekends. To check out her blog, head to Sioux's Page.


  1. Thank you - perfect inspiration I need. I turn 69 tomorrow and have decided I need to buckle down and get serious about my writing. I really need to take way more chances.

  2. This reminds me of my mom's advice. You need to get up and look for a job, no one is going to come knocking on the door asking for you. Yes, unless we take a chance, we won't move one step closer to our dreams.

  3. Thanks Sioux for this post. It's an inspiring reminder that I too needed to hear today.

  4. Today this is the advice that I definitely needed to hear. Don't give up! What you are looking for might be just one step farther down the path.


  5. Beverley--Yes, today should be the day that you take that first step back into the writing life. Look at me--I'm in my 60s, and I'm getting my first book published this spring... a dream come true. You too could realize some of your dreams, but you have to help yourself. Good luck.

    Theresa--Your mom was a wise woman. I also won't ever win the lottery if I don't buy a ticket. ;)

    Jeanine--These days, I think we all need a bit of inspiration and encouragement.

    Sue--For sure. We have to keep slogging forward.

  6. I LOVE ABBA. And when I saw the title of your post--before I read one word of it--I was singing that song. And I was hearing it the whole I read your post; now I want to list to my ABBA 'cause there are SO many good songs!

    Um...what were you writing about again? :-) (Just kidding, I agree. Take a chance. Always!)

  7. Cathy--Have you seen the movie "Muriel's Wedding"? It's Austrailian (I think) and stars Toni Collette. The whole soundtrack is ABBA music. It's quirky, but I think you might enjoy it.

    Yeah, writers have to take chances. Otherwise we'll never get anything published.

  8. I LOVE "Muriel's Wedding!" I've also been listening to the Bee Gees a lot lately since I saw their documentary on HBO Max. It's amazing. You've taken so many chances this year and it has paid off! Now I need to get off my butt and get caught up with Butt Kickers! Sorry I've been AWOL--juggling too many things over and then took a little break to finally read "The Nickel Boys."

  9. Renee--The Bee Gees documentary and "amazing" in the same sentence? My head is turning 360 degrees. However, I trust your taste, so I'll check it out.

    YOU have been AWOL? I was gone for months at a time, several times this past year. The Butt Kickers are a bunch of shining stars. I wouldn't have a book coming out if it wasn't for you ladies.

    I loved "The Nickel Boys." I inhaled his "The Underground Railroad" as well.


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