Often, when I tell people what my job is, they reply that it sounds really fun. The fact is that most of the time it is. I get to read for a living. I live in a world of ideas. I work with people on all sides of the business who are creative and passionate about helping writers succeed in a pretty competitive marketplace. I love that there is so much variety in what I am doing in a single day—editing a proposal, discussing a new idea with a client, talking about a potential project with a publisher, negotiating contract terms, helping to plan a publicity and marketing campaign, etc.
The other side of this, though, is what to do when nothing seems to be working. Yes, there are times when it seems nobody is interested in the projects we are submitting. Editors like the idea but can’t relate to the “voice”; they don’t think the concept works for their list; they can’t define a big enough market; the author isn’t qualified to be writing the book he or she is proposing or don’t have a big enough platform…I’ve heard it all. Sometimes this gets really discouraging, especially during periods when it seems to be happening with everything we are submitting.
We ask ourselves what we are doing wrong. Are we picking the wrong projects, presenting them in the wrong way, sending to the wrong editors and publishers? What is it? And then we think that maybe we should change up everything—do things differently.
While considering this the other day, I looked up “what to do when nothing works” on Google and I found 300,000,000 entries. Astonishing! I read through some of them, but, in the end, after a long career full of these experiences, I have come to the conclusion that what I need to do is to stop second guessing myself and just keep doing what I’ve always done: Look for those new ideas and help our clients present them in fresh and original ways. Identify new editors and new publishing opportunities. Just keep moving forward. To quote myself: “NEXT!”
What do you do when nothing seems to be working in your world?