Friday, April 06, 2007


If there’s a theme for the week here at Drunk Writers, it has to be there’s little you can control in this business except the writing, your own promotional efforts and your knowledge about the business.

But that’s actually not true. As unpublished authors, we have all the control.
(stop snickering in the wings, it’s true)

Picture this. I finish the best book I’ve ever written. I think it’s fantastic… (this is very hypothetical)

So I draw a short list of agents to send it to. I have the control initially in choosing which agent I would like to represent me and my work and in a wonderful, perfect world, more than one wants to represent the work, then I get to choose which one.

Secondly, the writer does have a significant say over where our agents send the book. Hopefully we have the right person representing us, so we trust their judgment, but again, this is ultimately our choice.

And we can say yes or no to offers.. (again, stop snickering… I know this is stupidly hypothetical), but I have heard of authors having a choice between publishers if the project is really hot.

Once the publisher takes over, we definitely lose control, over covers, back cover blurbs and the promotion the publisher chooses to do, but if we chose well, then there should be trust in our editors.

Now I know what I’ve just described is highly unlikely.. and when the rejections start coming in, hard not to leap at the first offer that comes along. Hell, did it myself, and came to regret it. Leaping at the first agent cost me time, too much time.

But I did learn to take back some control. I don’t have to sell the first book I write, or even the second, or third, but I do want to feel like I have control. I have a short list of agents, it changes, but it’s not huge. They are all well established and well regarded. If I don’t snag one of the short list with my current project, then I’ll try with the next book.

It might sound foolish to some, but I firmly believe no agent is better than a bad agent.

What’s harder for me is keeping confidence when getting rejections. But here what we all need is an unshakeable faith in our writing and what we choose to write. Not to the point where I don’t listen to criticism, but just a belief that my flawed heros and heroines are interesting to more than just me, and my stories are worthy of publication on my terms.

And if I don’t get there with the current book, then I’ll get there with the next one.

Because it starts and ends with the writing.


Maureen McGowan said...

Keeping our confidence in the face of rejection is by far the toughest emotional thing about this business -- the part that takes the most strength for those of us who aren't blindly convinced of our glorious amazingness. (And I think the only way we get better and grow as writers is to occasionally question our amazingness... so in there lies the crux.)

We must continue to solicit criticism, but evaluate it carefully so we don't either get so discouraged we quit, or change our writing to suck all the originality and interesting features out. And learning all we can to better evaluate whether we're just "different" or whether we really just suck or are unmarketable. (You and I don't suck. And people do like our stories. It will happen.)

Molly O'Keefe said...

Persepective and control are two things I always always wish I had more of. It's hard to consistently stay focused and at least slighting convinced of some amazingness. I think that's where the critique group comes in -- people who challange you - who you respect. People who are plugged in to what they can control in the industry and have our best interests at heart. It's the only way I know to keep sane.
The drinking helps.

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