In case you didn’t get it from the name, this newsletter can be a little harsh sometimes. I aim to talk about the dustier corners of the business, to shine a light on some of the more difficult aspects, to help writers understand what they’re getting into so they can make smart, informed choices. And sometimes that means it gets a little dark in here.
Here’s the thing, though, the biggest tool in your kit, the thing that will make the biggest impact on your ability to succeed, to last, to thrive is your ability to stay positive. A lot of shit happens in this business and it’s easy to let that get you down. But the thing that defines success is not how you take the hit, but how you get up again after.
The thing about this career is you’re not done until you decide you are. Sure, people can say no to you. You will hear no so many times in the course of your career. No matter how big you get. No matter how famous you get. Things still won’t work out sometimes. People won’t get your vision. The audience just won’t show up for a thing, no matter how good it is.
But in the face of that, you still have the power to pick yourself up and write a new book. Pitch a new project. Develop a new plan, a new strategy.
A line I repeat a lot is a paraphrase of something my good friend and client Matt Wallace said on his Hugo-nominated podcast, Ditch Diggers:
The solution to almost any problem in a writer’s life is simply to write more.
Bad sales? Write a new book. An agent sent you a form rejection? Write a new book. Series in a death spiral? Write a new series. Editor leaves and you get orphaned and you end up neglected and unloved? Write a new book and sell it to your favorite editor in their new gig.
Writing books is hard. But a career is not made of a single project. It’s a chain of book after book after book, a long hard climb up those links to the success you aspire to. Your ability to sit back down at your desk and put words on a blank page is the thing that defines you. Do that thing. Keep doing that thing. And in the end, maybe you make it, maybe you don’t, but you did the work. You kept writing and you kept telling your story.
There’s no guarantee to success in publishing. But if you choose to stop, then there’s no way to find out if you would have gotten there. There are a lot of reasons to choose to put down your pen. There are a lot of reasons to stop querying. I get it. It’s okay if you decide this road isn’t yours. It’s a hard road, no doubt about it.
The only answer is to stay positive. Believe in you. Take bad news with a smile and a determination find better answers next time. See possibility in a rejection. See hope in a setback.
You will want to keep going if you can find joy in the process. This life, this industry, is not a miserable one no matter how hard it is some days.
Lord knows it’s hard to find that perspective sometimes. Trust me, I get it. I’m in it with my writers. We’re a team and we take the hits together.
But I choose to love this job. I choose to love this industry. And I choose to believe that the next one is going to work out. And that’s what it takes. That’s how you get to the wins. You choose to believe in that future. In yourself. In your words.
It’s up to you.