In my current stage of life, I find it freeing not to feel compelled to share my opinion about every topic and to defend that opinion to the verbal death. I don’t feel the urge to prove my rightness through verbal sparring. Joy, indeed!
In everyday life, a friend may ask any number of questions. “What do you think of this dress?” means you should say, “Wow! You look great!”
“What do you think of my new boyfriend?” is meant to elicit, “He’s wonderful!”
“Do you like this paper I wrote?” means, “Yes!”
In other words, few friends really seek your advice on anything. They just want you to confirm they made the right decision about everything, and everything they say and do is perfect. They seek affirmation.
But there is one arena where I’m paid for my opinion, and that is as a literary agent. I take this responsibility seriously, because I understand the risks.
With writers, I’m the first to wave pom-poms and jump up and down and say, “You rock!” I love to encourage people, especially when they’ve worked long and hard to achieve goals.
But writers pay literary agents a commission for our opinions. These opinions can change the trajectory of their careers, especially in light of the current publishing climate.
No agent gets it right every time. We let good opportunities slip by, and take other projects that end up being time wasters for everyone.
But here’s what we as agents do: we keep up with the latest in publishing, ranging from which editors are moving to what houses (and there are many, many job transitions at any given time), to what type of books editors are seeking, and on and on.
You may say, “Well, Christian publishing houses are always going to be looking for good Christian books.” True. But the nuances and shifts are often, many, and varied. And consider the change involving e-books, indie publishing, mergers, and lines shutting down. As agents, we learn everything we can so we can give our clients advice based on education and knowledge, not emotion and fuzzy math.
My clients know I tailor my advice to each person. I work with writers to achieve their personal goals so they can enjoy their careers while being successful.
So while giving advice is always risky, we strive to give our clients the best advice we can. Good guidance, talent, and hard work are the keys to success.
What part of publishing gives you the most anxiety?
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given in regard to publishing?
You’ve always been kind and encouraging to me, and I always appreciate your honesty.
Brandilyn Collins was the first published author to give me advice. She told me three things and in time I did all three things. Join ACFW-I did that right away. Go to the ACFW conference took a little longer because of the money involved. When I finally attended my first conference, she suggested I only make appointments with agents. I’m not saying this is the best advice for everybody, and I won’t go into the reasons this was her advice for me, but I followed it.
In the last few years, I’ve met many great people who have been so nice sharing their wisdom. I can’t imagine trying to break into publishing without an agent. Thanks for all the good advice you give us each week. I appreciate you and the other agents who take time out to help us.
I can’t think of anything in publishing that really worries me. Daily life has become scary enough, and my main hope is to be still standing at the end of the day.
Best advice has been to write my heart, and not try to please a hypothetical audience. They’ll either like my voice and message, or they won’t.
Ask any seal. Balancing a ball on your nose for a lousy frozen herring is a bummer.
Attending a conference is one of the best things a writer can do for her career. The expense needs to be considered an investment in both the educational and networking opportunities.
My daughter, who writes nonfiction, is on the faculty at the Florida Christian Writers Conference this week. Three years ago, at that same conference, she was a newbie with a book proposal in her hand and a dream in her heart. Now she’s a published author, acquisitions editor for an online magazine, frequent contributor to several markets, and a sought-after speaker.
My experiences haven’t been as dramatic, but attending conferences also helped me in my journey to publication.
I wish I could be with my daughter at FCWC this year, but I’m going to the ACFW conference instead. Hope to see you there, Tamela.
What gives me anxiety about publishing? Reviews… and copyrights.
Best advice – write what you love and the money will follow.
Sandy Faye Mauck
Publishing: it’s all sort of scary yet I get Andrew. When life is on the edge we can see from a more heavenly perspective. We are not as attached to the things of this world. Like you implied, Tamela, we get less man-pleasing as we go.
I may have gotten my best advice last night while trying to get the courage to press the send button, from Erin Taylor Young.
She said, “God’s got this. “The Lord Almighty has sworn, ‘Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand.'” Isaiah 14:24. Your only job is to do your best and be faithful everyday to do the task God has given you. And if that’s to write, then you write. You act in obedience and trust this next step will be simply that. The next step. Whatever it is. Because this whole writing thing is a trip filled with turns that lead to detours that lead to side roads that lead to bridges that lead to new paths that are simply detours to yet another road, you know? No one ever really arrives, exactly. It’s a journey we’re meant to enjoy with God.
Okay, so now press send.”
Erin Taylor Young
Thank you, Sandra, I’m glad it helped. And let me credit Karen Ball for this advice, too. She and I have had many conversations about detours and obedience. : )
I have to agree that reviews can sometimes cause me anxiety, but I like to keep in mind that no author (or book) is immune to bad reviews. I also wish I could predict the trends of the market, but since I can’t, I follow advice similar to what Charlotte said: write the book you would want to read.