There was recently an article in my local free paper—the Hamptons rag that lets all us mundane folk know exactly how well the local celebrities are doing—entitled ‘Celebrity Troubles: There’s Always Somebody Out There Doing Better Than You.’ It recounts how Jay-Z and Beyonce bought their 26M dollar home on Georgica Pond, an address inhabited by the likes of Steven Spielberg, Martha Stewart, and Ron Perelman of Revlon fame, only to find that someone was applying to build on their next-door vacant land and will block their ocean view. The article went on to mention that Billy Joel, when told he had more platinum albums than anyone else, moaned that Garth Brooks was about to pass him. As I write this, the Oscars are on tonight and there’ll be all sorts of ‘also-rans’ for the history books, loads of hands that will go away empty.
I recently did a pitch-fest on-line along with a friend; she received a request to query and I didn’t. Of course, I had to ask myself why her, not me. We didn’t even pitch similar stories—hers is a romance, mine is women’s lit. set in the 1970s—nor did we even pitch to the same editors. And I’m not jealous in the usual sense of the word; I definitely wish her well, hope her query leads to a contract. More, it is a kind of disappointment in myself.
But I guess as the writer in the local rag says, there’s always someone out there doing better. It’s good to remember that, that is the way it will always be. So next time a fellow author gets that three book contract with one of the big six, or one thousand five star reviews on Amazon, or even a thousand more likes than you have, remember that it’s never going to change. There’s always going to be someone out there doing better . . .
Hmmm. I wonder what JK Rowling is feeling now?
Sorry for your pass, Andi. Next time for you, right? Okay - always someone doing better. All things being relative, that means always someone doing worse. It’s hard to not be jealous, though. Can’t tell you how many times i’ve lamented ‘why not me?’ Next time, I guess.
Yeah...what Margo said! Been there and done that, too!
Margo, excellent point-someone doing worse! The strange thing is, writing isn't even really a competitive field. Readers have their own likes and dislikes beyond our control. IN the end, it really comes down to promo, the dreadof all of us I think.
Leah, I'm glad to know I'm not alone!
I try to focus on taking baby steps (one after the other) to improve my own position. I look back and see how far I've come. Sure there are a lot of authors doing far, far better. Are their books better? I don't know. Maybe. Or maybe they just wrote something the market wanted at the time. Maybe some bit of promotion got them noticed, and they had put themselves in the position to take advantage of that. It's hard to tell what needs to happen to give us that big boost up the food chain. But I do know that most of the authors who have come up through the trenches to see even a hint of success have written A LOT of books. I've written 13 novels and 8 novellas in the last 8 years. I feel like sheer persistence pays off at some point. We all have to just keep writing, putting our best work forward, and maybe that big break will happen. Pep talk over!
It's human nature to compare ourselves, even when we know we shouldn't. Sorry about the rejection. That's life, I guess. We should only compare ourselves to ourselves. What Jannine said. I'm revising/updating an older manuscript. Wow, have I come far. The story is good, the humor more than I remember, but . . . Thanks to my faithful editor (Ally) who's taught me so much, I realize I've come a long way. That's fun to see. Good luck on your next submission. You'll hit the right person at the right time.
I agree, Andrea. That's what I've always tried to live by, whether it's my writing, or just life in general. There will always be someone doing better and, as Margo said, worse. We are where we are in life and we need to own it and do our best and not worry about what someone else is accomplishing. I'll admit, I'm a little envious of the success of other authors, but it's more an admirable envy. I'm happy for them and wish them the best. And, I look at it as, if they can do it, maybe I can. There are plenty of readers out there for all of us. :)
Jannine, thanks for the pep talk. You make a couple of interesting points to me. One is about writing what the market wants at the time. I just queried an editor I met at a conference; I told her the book was women's lit. set in the 70s. She asked to see it, got it, raved about it, but ended her letter by saying the 70s wouldn't sell. I mean, she knew it was set then at the conference so I was really po'ed. You can't win if it's always going to be what the market has formerly sold rather than something new--don't they always cry their want 'new voices'? As for writing a lot of books, I do see that happening with a number of authors. I personally cannot do it. I see some authors literally churning books out (no one here!!!), unedited, full of mistakes, and their success comes down to promo and numbers. I prefer a decent product.
Thanks for your pep talk, too, Diane. I should make it clear I'm pretty positive, not really down in the doldrums over this. Just thoughtful on the subject! Plus at the moment I have my hands full with a new house so querying is taking time as is writing.
Alicia, good to know we're not alone! And, yes, plenty of authors. I expect if, as Jannine says, I could write more books I'd probably do a whole lot better, but I'm afraid I'm a tortoise there.
After more than twenty-five years hovering around this writing business, I've experienced my fair share of highs and lows. They've led me to become pretty philosophical about my writing "career." Some days I wish more readers could find and enjoy my books, but other days I realize I don't want any of the pressure that comes with literary stardom, or even mini-stardom. I am where I'm supposed to be, where I need to be, and that's okay. That being said, you may not yet be where you're supposed to be, so I wish you a speedy and unimpeded journey!
Great post, Andi. I think we've all experienced this. :-)
Being on the receiving end of "No, your book is not for us. Your writing is great, though" is puzzling and painful. But I've learned what one publisher doesn't like, another loves. It's all subjective to the editor's tastes. Keep at it. I keep telling myself to try harder, to write better. The more we write, the better we get.
What Vonnie said...and I'd add the high bar is good know about and an incentive for us. Roger Bannister, may he rest in peace, decided the 4 minute mile could be bested. I'm not intimidated by those better than I am, they get my competitive juices going. Many of you have said: look back and see how far you've come. Great advice. The other point: it's about personal bests and a happy life overall. We all mush on in our own way...and that's a good thing!
Alison, those are very wise words. Quite honestly, I can't handle more at this moment. In some ways, I'm dreading a 'yes' from one of my queries because with a new house to remodel, and the old to sell, I'm afraid of not being able to meet deadlines and so on. Maybe once everything is settled . . .
glad to know I'm not alone, Kristy!
Vonnie, you're so right! I look at my first book now, Loveland, and sort of cringe; can't think of people reading it! I think I was more upset about the rejection in this case because I told her at the conference it was set in the 70s (and she said, "Oh, so it's historical" to which I replied, well I think we've got 2 years to go!." LOL) . If she felt that way she could've saved me a lot of trouble!
Rolynn, I'm definitely mushing on--and that's about my best for now as I said to Alison. But I was certainly interested to hear what other authors felt about this.
My latest submission to my publisher got rejected with lots of rewriting recommended. I loved the story as it is and am finding it hard to see the rewrites clearly. Bottom line, I'm bummed the editor didn't like it. Why my book? she loved the last one. Poo.
OH, Barbara, I think most of us have been through that. It's difficult to know exactly what those editors do want. With films like The Post, and Battle of the Sexes, and the Ken Burns documentary, Viet Nam, on tv, not to mention our current political situation with so many parallels to the Seventies, I certainly would've thought a book set then would be OK, but not according to my rejection.
I count myself lucky to have read your 70's book and I thought it was wonderful and I hope it finds a home and reaches the audience it deserves. I strongly disagree about the 70's not being of interest to readers. And anyway, why is that even an issue? You wrote a story from the heart. I read too many published novels where I feel like the author is writing with a perceived market in mind but the book itself lacks depth. I did that pitchfest, pitching 2 books to 12 agents and publishers, and seeing some of the direct responses from some agents were enlightening.It was actually helpful to me to see they are looking for very specific things i.e., military man, homecoming) and not to take rejection personally. Just hang in there! I did get a nibble, as you know, but I'm fully prepared to have it go nowhere! She won't like the setting in Wales are something...
Patti, as you and I have discussed, it's so difficult to know exactly what these editors are looking for. This one said character-driven stories like mine were 'krytonitie to her' before she went on to say good things specific to the story and my writing. Such a crap-shoot. Maybe I should have had a discussion here, 'what do agents and editors want?' I looked at one publishing house with several editors, all RWA approved, but all they individually seemed to want was various forms of paranormal. I'm afraid I'm an author out of my time!
Lots of good advice and comments here. I'm about to start a series that may not have a market, and I used to worry about that. And I suppose I should worry still about that. But the darn characters are hammering me, the setting is a magnet to me, and I just have to write it. Keep on keeping, Andrea.
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