QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Resolution: I Resolve to be Positive! (well, sort of)

Pretty much all I've seen and heard recently about the state of the publishing industry is doom and gloom.  When a month ago Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced a ban on acquisitions, a surge of panic began washing over the writing community followed by a tsunami of pessimism.  Being a "glass half full" girl by nature, this sky-is-falling mentality doesn't appeal.

I had the pleasure of hearing Sarah Nelson, the Editor-In-Chief of Publisher's Weekly, deliver the keynote address at a writers' conference last year.  She struck me as smart, funny, and in possession of a realistic view of the industry from the inside.  I recall sitting at the dining table, trying to saw through my obligatory conference rubberized chicken breast entree, thinking, "This woman knows her sh...um, stuff."  And after following her Publisher's Weekly opinion column for a while, I'm convinced she does.  
I was delighted when Ms. Nelson's editorial of December 15, 2008 had a positive bent.  She writes that the Nielsen BookScan reported a 6% rise in sales Thanksgiving week.  Even though the numbers dropped again after that, it's still heartening.  What caught my attention in the article was the expression of compassion in adversity.  Publishing is a competitive business, and that increases the higher one climbs up the publishing ladder.  I smiled when I read, "I know it sounds hokey--and I will spare you the Chinese proberb about every crisis being an opportunity--but while the mood in BookLand is decidedly tense, it's a tension tinged with community and compassion."  That sounds pretty good to me.  Click here to read the full article.

So this year, one of my New Year's resolutions is to remain realistically optimistic about the state of publishing; not just with regard to my own projects, but the industry as a whole.  I'm not advocating rose colored glasses, I'm simply not going to be consumed by contagious negativity.  My glass is half full.  

Happy New Year!

Mary Lindsey writes paranormal fiction for children and adults. Prior to attending University of Houston Law School, she received a B.A. in English Literature with a minor in Drama.

Mary can also be found on her website.


Christine Fonseca said...

Thanks for the post - this is definitely a resolution I can get behind

goldchevy said...

Thanks for being positive. Since I am so new at this, it's taking a while for the state of the economy to wash over me--what it might mean for my ever getting published. But on the other hand, it's totally out of my control. The only thing I could do about it would be stop writing which just isn't a possibility. In some ways it's making my writing better--knowing that it has to be my absolute best effort if it has a chance. Thanks again for your article and thanks for this blog.

Archetype said...

Thanks for the notes, Christine & goldchevy! I agree that staying positive and working to improve can only get us closer to our (publishing!) goals. Happy New Year to you both!

Marva said...

It's really hard to be positive after 50 or so rejections. I look at my work and wonder how I'm deluding myself. I'm not. My work is good, original, funny, well-written.

I'm sorry, but at a certain point, my positive outlook turns sour. The agents and publishers are not interested in my work, so why am I beating myself up trying to beg for attention from them? No sense at all. I'll self-pub and make sales like I did in November and December. I'm making a nice little income that doesn't involve any of the short-sighted.

So, I'm positive. But that positive attitude is belief in the worth of what I write, not in the capricious whims of agents and publishers, who, apparently, don't know their ass from a hole in the ground.

Still, I'll cheer for those of you who make it past the gatekeepers. You have found something that I haven't. Good for you.

Mary Lindsey said...

Hi Marva. Thanks for the comment. I understand your frustration--and you are right to believe in yourself above the "gatekeepers." It's the belief in yourself that keeps you going in this crazy business.

It's gotta go one of two ways for me. I can either succumb to negativism and be miserable about everything around me or I can look for the good in the business and people in whose hands I rest. I choose the latter. It's not necessarily the best or most valid choice, it's just what works for me.

Archetype, our in-house psychologist, is posting later this week on handling rejection. I've previewed the article, and it has really helped me.

Thanks again for commenting. I hope 2009 brings you joy and success!