The Austin Writer’s League left behind its history, years ago, to become the Writer’s League of Texas and have statewide reach. But way back at the start of the decade, the annual Manuscript Contest for the AWL caught a winner who’s now won a book contract from Holt. From the League’s newsletter, by way of the author:

Jacqueline Kelly of Austin sold her first novel to Holt. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate will be published in the spring of 2009. She won the 2002 Manuscript Contest Mainstream Fiction category with the first chapter of this book.

The news arrived in a PDF version of the League’s newsletter Scribe, which was once a monthly printed item but now will show up in our e-mail in-boxes every other month. It’s great to hear of a book success so long after winning a contest. Making a contest cut is good. A deal is another step up. And Holt is, well, a step up from Xlibris, Authorhouse and other help yourself subsidy houses.

As Gilded Age publisher Henry Holt once observed, a “book is a thing by itself. There is nothing like it, as one shoe is like another, or as one kind of whiskey is like another.” There’s nothing like a book, guilded with a fine cover and bound to be bent in the bed or the bathroom.

Six years to a deal, seven years and more between starting and publication. Keep at those keyboards, join those groups and work your manuscripts. Persevere, or continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success. Have faith that by the time your book gets a deal, paper and ink will still be the dominant medium of writing and publishing. Not that there’s anything wrong with PDF publishing — but many of us aspire to something with a spine.

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