Blogger: Wendy Lawton
Location: On the Road–Heading toward North Dakota
Weather: Sunny and hot
Will someone remind me that the next time I blog I need to write about happy things? Why is it I am always coming up with such upbeat themes as “Kiss of Death,” “QueryFail,” “Worst Case Scenario,” and “Career Killers”? I think someone needs to stage an intervention.
Oh well. . .
For the final day of this cheery little series on career killers, I want to touch on a subject that is connected to yesterday’s speed writing blog. Today’s career killer is impatience. If you’ve been in this industry long, you know that nothing will cause you to throw up your hands and walk away faster than impatience. If you are used to instant gratification, this is not the career for you. If you are in the habit of developing a plan and having each piece fall into place on your schedule, this is not the career for you. If you’d like to make a six-figure income right out of the starting gate–you guessed it–this is not the career for you.
As agents we talk a lot about career planning, but we always do so with a humble spirit because we know the truth of the old saying taken from Robert Burns poem, To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough: “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men/ Gang aft agley,/ An’lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,/ For promis’d joy!”
Yep, we know about the best laid plans when it comes to publishing.
Consider this comment I had from an editor a few weeks ago: “Let’s take things step by step. She should finish her manuscript and submit that. Then I’ll consider a proposal from her for a new contract.” Or, even worse, one I’m hearing more often these days, “We don’t want to look at a new proposal until the book is released and we can track sales for a few months.”
When you are trying to build a career not to mention building a readership, nothing is more frustrating than hearing that your publisher is taking a wait-and-see approach. If a proposal can’t even be submitted until the previous book is published and performing well, chances are that there will be more than a year between books. Frustrating.
But here’s the rub–if the writer gets impatient and decides to try to find another publisher, he runs the risk of breaking any momentum and continuity that may be building. A change of publishers needs to be strategic move, done at the right time and for the right reasons. During the building process the author and his agent have many issues to consider, and it may take an inordinate amount of patience. If the truth be known, career building is far more in the hands of God than in the hands of humans.
I love the verse from Ecclesiastes 7:8, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” Good advice for those of us in this crazy book industry.
Okay, now I need your help. What kind of happy topics do I need to blog about next time? Puppies and publishing? Chubby babies and equally plump advances? I seriously need an intervention.