Is the Sky Falling?

“Traditional publishing is dead. Everyone should self publish.”

“It’s crazy how important platform has become.”

“It’s harder than ever to get a book deal.”

“Advances are lower than they’ve been in years.”

“Thirty is the new fifty.”

“Publishers are taking so long to make decisions these days.”

“When you finally get a book deal, your advance could be spread out over two years or more.”

“The big houses are aggressively seeking household names and celebrity authors.”

“There seem to be fewer slots for debut authors.”

“Amazon is going to take over the world and put everyone else out of business.”

People talk. Some of the Internet gossip is true. Most of it has a grain of truth that is exaggerated by whatever filter that particular speaker sees through.

But yes, publishing is a rough road these days. Let’s not try to pretend otherwise.

And yet… we’re still plugging along. We’re taking on new clients and we’re doing our best for current ones. We’re doing deals at a pretty decent rate. I’ll be announcing several new contracts on Publishers Marketplace very soon.

Yes, it’s hard. So what? If it were easy, anyone could do it.

Maybe the sky’s not really falling.

Maybe instead the sky isย calling. Maybe it’s calling us to pull on our grown-up pants and deal with it. Maybe it’s calling us to be even more clear about our purpose and reason for doing what we do. Maybe it’s calling us toย face the realities head-on, acknowledge them and keep on working.

How do you persist in the face of depressing odds and harsh realities?

Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent
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  1. Ted Fauster says:

    They’re called big-boy pants. And yes, I own several pair. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Brianna says:

    Stubbornness. I’ve been stubborn from day one of my writing career. I am open to change and am more than capable of going with the flow and taking things as they come, but I also know that the only way to survive is to be persistent and keep my feet on the ground.

  3. Kari Cowman says:

    I heard someone wise say that traditional publishers are serving drinks on the Titanic. Let’s pretend publishing is the Titanic, is it possible that all the self proclaimed “authors” (myself included)are weighing the ship down? We need an intermediary to scold us, advise us, mold us. Anyone can write, but to REALLY revise requires more honesty than many of us are comfortable with. The sky is not falling, though I do have a nasty lump on my head ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Makes me more determined than I’ve ever been, and with more options! It’s a wonderful time to be alive and be an author!

  5. Catherine Hudson says:

    This requires a big fat LOL!!

    Amen! Grown up pants all the way.

    the sky is calling so lets get writing and ensuring we bring the very best of what we have no matter what anyone is saying.

  6. What keeps me going? Knowing that my calling goes beyond the status quo of publishing. Having faith that His story written through me will reach those whom it’s destined to reach.

    By the way Rachelle, did you ever announce your choice for guest bloggers??
    ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Peter DeHaan says:

    These seems like opportunities to me!

  8. Joe Pote says:

    “How do you persist in the face of depressing odds and harsh realities?”

    Every day, I am amazed that there are people who not only read what I write, but are actually blessed by the reading.

    What more could a writer ask for?

  9. The sky is always falling. That’s gravity. But there are other forces at work and gravity isn’t strong enough, because Earth hasn’t collapsed into a black hole and there are things that can fly.

    In other words, there will always be challenges and obstacles and new requirements and outside things conspiring against each of us. But they’re not the only things in the world, and there are ways to work around them, use them, defy them, etc.

    How do I persist? Deep breaths. Prayers. Supportive friends. Taking breaks when needed. In short, trying to balance my worries with sources of comfort and other activities to occupy my mind. Of course, sometimes this is only so effective, but it’s what I got.

  10. If I wanted to, I could really stress about breaking into the writing world. With so many million writers screaming for attention how will anyone notice me? Wah!
    God has given me such a peace. I know that I love writing-even if only my family members read it. It’s a great joy to create and ultimately anything we do that honors God, God will also honor us.
    I don’t mean God’s going to cut me a deal with a great publisher (although anything that happens I credit God.)
    I only know I love writing and I’ve really been enjoying the writing process and learning about how to get published-whether it will be traditional or self. It’s a fun journey!
    Thanks for you blog; I enjoy reading your articles.

  11. I deal, that’s how I deal.

    The publishing world is tough to break into and so is the job world.

    It is just tough all around so all you can do is keep your faith strong and deal with it.

  12. I persevere because God is in control–not Amazon or the big six publishers. And God really, really likes me, so I’ll take whatever He chooses to give me.

  13. Jill says:

    Four children and pushing forty, and I’m too skinny for big girl pants. Will somebody lend me a belt?

  14. Don Weston says:

    Yes, the sky is falling. The way you write reminds me of what my broker said when I was still in Real Estate six years ago about a Real estate bubble. He talked like it wouldn’t happen in Oregon, of course he was protecting the company’s bottom line.

    If you don’t think the sky is falling, go shopping for a CD and you will see what is going to happen to the print book market. Limited selection and by the way, everyone under 40 is buying their music from Itunes or Amazon on line. In another twenty years you will be reading your library books digitally.
    It’s one thing to fear what’s happening in the market and quite another to stick your head in the sand like an ostrich and pretend everything is OK.
    Working harder will not change the publishing market. Publishers are digging in and going with the tried and true and so are agents.
    It’s time for writers to think about themselves, because nobody else will.
    I’m not saying self publishing is the answer for everybody because you will still have to do your own marketing–oh wait- you have to do that now anyway most likely. Well you have to make sure it is edited to your best capability because there will be no editors–oh wait, that’s kind of the case now for mid range authors too.
    Well you will be lucky to make much money unless you know how to manage the social marketing–oh, darn, you have to do that yourself too, and the advance is how much? $2,000 to $5,000 on a book I spent three years writing?
    So what benefit does the agent and publisher offer now, anyway?
    Whew, I feel better. Sorry to vent on you Rachel, but it’s easier to say do this for you, when we have to do it.

    By the way, when did agents decide not to respond to queries? I found recently, by subscribing to Publishers Market, that most of the agents I query don’t sell anything in my genre, but they say they do. This is another huge waste of time for authors looking for an agent, and leads to a rejection that makes us think we are doing something wrong.
    So Yes, the sky IS FALLING. But It will be on the heads of the big publishers and agents–not the writers. We turn out the product and as the web offers more opportunities, we will have more opportunities to get our work out to the public. Maybe we won’t get rich, but who says we are now!

    • Don, I find “querytrackers.net” to be a much more reliable source than the Market for seeing what genre agents request full manuscripts on, as well as their typical response tine.

    • Don Weston says:

      Please note: I meant to refer to Publisher’s Marketplace, not Publishers Market. For $20 a month you can search by genre or categories and see who the top dealmakers are (books sold in your genre). Querytracker.com also offers the ability to see what books some agents represent and it is free, but you must go through each book to Amazon to see what the author writes. In PM it is categorized for you in a list going back to 2004. I actually use both, to make sure I’m not missing anything, but Publisher’s Marketplace is spot on. I also check to see what agents have not sold. If they have not sold my genre, I don’t send to them and many, many do not even though they claim to.
      By the way, querytracker rocks as long as you check out what the agents actually sell.

  15. Jana Dean says:

    I could knit instead… either way the quality is in the yarn. Bonus: far fewer lumpy sweaters in the world.

  16. Laura Diane says:

    How do I persist?

    Let’s see-I’m a writer, so I write.

    It’s in my blood and it’s what I am called to do whether I want to or not. It’s no longer a choice, but rather an integral and vital part of my life.

    If I get a deal with a publisher then life will be different, but not better. It is something I reach for, but not something I have to have in order to be a writer.

    Writing is the calling, being published is another aspect of that calling, but not a necessary part of it.

    Thanks for asking the questions and making us think.

  17. I concur. The Big Six publishers do need to pull on their grown-up pants and deal with the changing landscape.

    Thank you, Amazon, for waking the publishing world from its comfortable slumber and getting the competition ball rolling.

  18. Erin says:

    I kinda like writing right now, too! I mean, what options we have! Opportunities abound!

  19. This is such a great post! I was Henny Penny yesterday. I saw the Amazon front page featured a big ad about their publishing program–and for a second there, as I read the copy, my heart sank. So I sent Dave a note so his heart could sink too. What’s wrong with me? Especially since I have had
    good recent experience with traditional publishing that defies most of the things on your list, Rachelle. Thanks for this reminder. If my closet wasn’t such a mess I could find my big girl pants. The question is will they still fit by the time I do? ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
    In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

  21. Michelle Lim says:

    Awesome post, Rachelle! Smiley moment.

    My Dad used to tell me something growing up: Everyone always says I’m doing good under the circumstances, but I’d like to know what they are doing under the circumstances?

    So, the publishing industry is tough sometimes. That doesn’t change what we are passionate about doing. The cloud of circumstances shouldn’t create gloomy skies, but a soft step stone to reach the Son.

  22. Such great truths here today, Rachelle!

    Since I’m not dressed yet, better go put on my “big girl” overalls and get back to work! ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Lori says:

    I listen to a point then evaluate what I am hearing and then make a decision as to what I am going to do. Sometimes I’ll listen sometimes I don’t. It is best to consider the source. I am going to listen more to an agent or publisher than I am someone who know nothing or very little about the business.

  24. Nichole Hall says:

    All things are possible with the Lord. That’s the only thing that keeps me grounded. And the fact that I try to stay in denial about the odds ๐Ÿ˜‰

  25. There is always, always the potential for our world to be rocked, for us to doubt ourselves, for life to be hard.

    That’s why I try to stay rooted in the One who doesn’t change, who can be my firm foundation even if everything around me has gone completely chaotic.

  26. Ann Bracken says:

    I recently told my daughter that if what she was doing was easy then everyone would be a success. It’s when things are difficult that you grow and develop.

    As for the sky falling? That might happen, especially if homeland security tracks my internet usage and wonders why I’m so interested in how American patriots made cannons out of pine trees.

  27. Brian says:

    I think we love drama. Show like Jersey Shore and TMZ stay on the air for a reason. And while we probably don’t want the publishing industry to come crashing down, if it did, we would probably pull up lawn chairs and watch.

    Of course, this gives us stuff to write about.

  28. Julia Denton says:

    Depressing odds and harsh realities have been with our family for decades, so we’ve learned to deal with them. Our younger son, almost 27 years old now, was born with multiple disabilities and medical challenges; currently we’re in the midst of scheduling his third cardiac hospitalization in the past 2 months.

    For us, breaking through the discouragement and exhaustion often amounts to simply putting one foot in front of the other every day, and focusing on the many blessings of the journey that might go unnoticed if we obsess over the negatives.

    Connecting with and helping other families with similar issues helps. So does taking positive action to improve the overall picture for everyone.

    All these strategies apply to writing. One thing I try to do is improve the publishing landscape by increasing the ratio of readers to writers out there. Read, read, read what others write, and promote reading to everyone by sharing excitement about books and other forms of good writing, especially with those who are not writers. Send interesting blog posts to people via email links; write reviews; loan books and give them as gifts. Keep literary conversation going as much as possible. The more readers we have, the more writers will be successful.

  29. I paint. I write. I dream.

  30. Sarah Thomas says:

    I remember it’s more satisfying to succeed at something hard than something easy.

  31. Else says:

    Honestly, I’m making more in traditional publishing than I ever made at the day job– and it was a good day job.

    One thing I’ve learned from the self-publishing boom is this. I always assumed that people wouldn’t want to buy self-published books because many such books (not all! by no means all!) aren’t very well written.

    I was wrong. “Well-written” is a criterion that some of the reading public has. Especially the reading public that consists of writers. But as several recent successes have shown, it’s definitely not a criterion that every reader has.

    I think we’re starting to see self-publishing create its own niches and fandoms independent of traditional publishing and that that both can go on indefinitely. There will be writers for one market and writers for the other, with maybe not a whole lot of crossover.

  32. I think of it as a chance to prove myself.

    I heard once publishing isn’t difficult to keep people out, it’s difficult to see if you can do it.

  33. Jeanne says:

    Love the whole idea of the sky calling. At this point, I don’t focus on the “odds.” I focus on the moment, living it, learning and applying craft. I keep my eyes on the One who gave me stories to write in the first place and I keep moving forward (sorry for the cliche). When a setback comes, I allow a little time for tears, but then I get moving again, sometimes with the help of a friend who gives me eyes to see the current moment with a different perspective.

  34. Lori says:

    I feel there is more opportunity now for writers than ever before. We have choices, we can choose many different paths with our precious manuscripts. If one path doesn’t yield some success, pull up the boot straps and try another.

  35. Shauna says:

    How do I persist? I think back to the day that set me on this writing road and to a few road signs that have directed me this far.

    โ€œWriting is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.โ€
    โ€• E.L. Doctorow

  36. “How do you persist in the face of depressing odds and harsh realities?”

    Reality has always been harsh. Odds have always been depressing. So often in life, success is won by those who take the silliest ideas to the finish line while others wait by the start line for great ideas.

    Thank you, though, for a thought-provoking (and, for that matter, blog-provoking) post.

    -TOSK

  37. Josh C. says:

    I don’t know that the odds are depressing, any more than they ever were, that is. Yeah, it may be tougher or longer to get a publishing deal, a six figure advance may be a relic, but the ability to make a living by writing has always been for a very few, and most of them spent many years getting there. It is what it is. Like you said, maybe we’ve got to be clearer about why we do it, most especially with ourselves.

  38. Just Do It.

    Money isn’t my motivation, being published isn’t really either. Focusing on the message contained in the pages of this book…that is where my focus lays.

    I want to help others grow in their faith through what I have written. Regardless of how it ends up in front of others, whether pulblished or via a very long stream of blog posts, I know this is something that will change hearts. I know this, because my heart has already been changed. The Spiritual Disciplines aren’t dried up or dead, they are alive and have incredible potential for helping our faith grow wings.

  39. Imagine how much more pain t-publishing would be in if Amazon had started out with a certification from self-publishing authors that indicated the level of editing the piece had gone through prior to submission.

    The quality out there would be so much greater…and that harder for t-publishing to maintain their niche.

    I’m just thinking out loud

    *grin*

  40. As long as I get to be pullin’ up Jams. Can you get a cooler kind of pant? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I adapt and I’m open to learning. I respect the mystery, answer the call, & get in there and give it a good fight. I pray. I surrender. And I write my heart out.
    ~ Wendy

  41. I hope to get published, but the odds are against that happening. So why do I keep writing? Because I need to; it’s an integral part of who I am. Also, in regards to my WIP, I need to tell this story. It’s a good story and an important one. Besides, my guys (my two main characters) and I have been together so long that I owe it to them to tell their story and to tell it in the best way I can. So I keep writing. If, in the end, someone wants to publish the story and other people read it, yay! If that never happens, I haven’t lost anything. It’s been a joy getting to know David and Danny and to journey through the unfolding of their friendship. They have made me laugh and they have made me cry. I keep writing because I want to read the finished story.

    • Lisa says:

      Well said. Even if I never see publication, those stories I write are a deep part of me. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

  42. How do I face each day?
    I persist. Daily I give myself permission to follow my dreams for they are more than selfish ambition. My dreams and desires are what I have been created and called to do. Ask the one who created me thus for help when I get desperate. Don’t sweat the other stuff. Life has always been crazy. The sky has always been falling – and calling – your choice. My choice every day.

  43. Angela Brown says:

    LOL!! Me and my Chipmunk just watched that movie this weekend. Funny timing.

    As for how I persist in the face of depressing odds and harsh realities? I acknowledge the difficulties are there, but do not make them my focus. If I focus on the problems, there’s no way I could see past them to the opportunities or solutions. So instead, I listen to the characters that are calling. That character that nudges my shoulder while I’m driving down the road listening to Linkin Park and they whisper that a particular track should be replayed because there’s a story in the words – THEIR story. Or when I’m in the shower, steam rising and a character whimpers, fearful of what the growing mist actually means in her world – a mist that can steal human life in moments because of some radioactive aftermath.

    There are voices who must be heard, character voices. Against all odds, they want to be heard. For me, I just count myself lucky to be the vessel they’ve chosen. And so I write, I dream, I hope, I pray. Publication may come like some fast moving freight fooling others into thinking I was an overnight success or it may take baby steps. But I’ll keep writing for my characters and my love of writing.

  44. Lanny says:

    Most of the writing homilies out there have at least elements of truth within them, but I’m reminded of what Ray Bradbury said in Zen in the Art of Writing: “in quantity there is quality.”
    Not always true, but true enough that our main focus should be writing as much as we can, and thereby refining our fledgling craftsmanship.

  45. Cathy West says:

    I just have one question. Where does one purchase said “grown-up pants” ?

  46. Susan Bourgeois says:

    I persist because I don’t pay attention to the odds. I certainly don’t pay attention to anything negative when I’m trying to fulfill a dream.

    I write because something in me insists that I write.

    I love to tell stories. Stories are every where we look.

    Just yesterday I was riding in the car with my 35 year old daughter. I was reflecting on how good the salad had been the previous week at “Thank God It’s Friday’s” restaurant.

    She held back a chuckle, smiled, and stated: “Mom, it’s called TGIF, no one calls it “Thank God It’s Friday.”

    Right there arose a great line to include in my novel.

    My plan is to do what I feel I was meant to do and to see it through to the end.

  47. “Maybe instead the sky is calling. Maybe itโ€™s calling us to pull on our grown-up pants and deal with it. Maybe itโ€™s calling us to be even more clear about our purpose and reason for doing what we do. Maybe itโ€™s calling us to face the realities head-on, acknowledge them and keep on working.” Precisely! Persist under God’s guidance, with joy and gratitude for the trip itself.

  48. I rememeber reading a book by a pretentious, long winded, dull but deluded poet. He went on and on and ON about life and blahblahblah. Zzzzzz. It was agony just reading it and even in my teenage mind I wondered HOW the guy got published! I see some of the “literature” on the bookshelves now and still wonder. 50 Shades of Snooki? Really? And *I* can’t get an agent? Slaps forehead.
    It goes to show that just about anything can be published. I am ever so glad that I write in a realm that encourages quality that is worth waiting for, than to be from a company that brings you “Snooki Lerns the Alfabet-All 23 Letters”.
    Some days I laugh, some days I email writer friends and simply say “I need the ledge talk, now!”
    It’s a good thing God is in charge, or I go bonkers.

    • Sometimes the Snooki books make me feel like it’s not how well you write, it’s who you know. But in my core, I really believe that it’s more about getting a well-written manuscript and a phenomenal story to the right person at just the right time. The odds of that happening make winning the Powerball Lottery sound easy. My hope, though, is that God IS in charge. Miracles are easy for Him. My job is to everything I can to write the best doggone novel I can write and then persevere in sending it to agents. The rest is up to Him.

  49. carol brill says:

    love that the sky is calling not falling.

    what do I do? keep learning, and blogs like yours help a lot Rachelle, so thanks for keeping me learning and realistically hopeful about the options.

  50. Yes, it’s hard. Just this morning I asked myself, “Why do I even try?” Then my eye caught the glimmer of a red heart pin fastened to my jacket–the heart I bought in memory of my daughter Ruth and wore to her funeral after she unexpectedly died in her sleep at the age of seven. Hers is the story I am currently working to tell. Remembering my purpose helps keep me going.

  51. Bobbi says:

    All of what you mentioned has always been out there
    I write because I can’t imagine not writing!

  52. Great post, Rachelle! Very inspiring! To persist, I try looking up instead of around. I listen for the advice of my Heavenly Source, and I stay encouraged by reading your blog and a few others. Thanks so much for what you do…yours is my favorite blog.

  53. Lisa Jordan says:

    For as long as I’ve been a writer, publishing has been a tough road. Writing is hard work. Anyone can write. But not everyone will get published. But staying at it, honing the craft, and dealing with rejection is what separates writers who success from those who like the idea of being a writer.

    Took me 10 years to get published, but in that time, I managed to raise a family, get a college degree, and write 3 other books. I’m keeping my big girl pants up because this is my dream job and making it happen begins with me.

  54. Timothy Fish says:

    There are some things that I just don’t get concerned about. At this point, I’m not concerned about how much money I make from writing or how many people read my books. Sure, more is better, but the real reason I write is because I enjoy the challenge of writing. No matter how much the publishing industry changes, that will not change.

  55. >Yes, itโ€™s hard. So what? If it were easy, anyone could do it.<

    Love that thought, Rachelle.

    And anyway I can't stop writing. . . So I might as well keep on keeping on.

  56. Otin says:

    I take an anti-depressant….:)

  57. When I have moments like that in my live, is usually hormonal… heehee

    However, for the most part, when I can think straight and rationalize about it, I see what ever is in front of me as a challenge… and I love challenge! It forces me to grow, to get stronger, to learn to relax, to take one day at a time and to be in the NOW. That alone has taught me that nothing else matter. I do and focus on what I am doing now, so all worries or anxiety disappears.

    In regards to writing… I am in the process of self publishing a book. So, my point of view is that what a blessing having a chance to self publish a book instead of waiting for some “special” people to accept it. This is a great opportunity, even if there is a lot to think about.

    I write my list and scratch one thing at a time…

  58. Technology has changed the pace of many occupations. Roll with the punches or stagnate is how life seems to be. Learn and perservere is my motto. I won’t ever know everything I need to know, but I’ll always know those who do–thank God.

    As they say in my corner of the globe, ‘Pull yer socks up and muck in’.

    Or as Dory in Nemo sang, ‘Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…’

    Disappointed? Not even.
    Frustrated? Sometimes ๐Ÿ™‚

  59. Thirty is the new fifty? I thought it was the other way around:)

    It really doesn’t matter what we think about the state of publishing. God is in control and it’s all in His timing, not ours.

    • Fifty is the new thirty in everyday life (supposedly), but in publishing, it’s the other way around. According to some people, if you are not published by the time you’re thirty, you may as well hang it up. As a fifty-one year old person, I refuse to except this and just keep moving forward despite what the town criers announce.

  60. Mira says:

    I hate change. I resist it at all costs. But almost inevitably, if I stay with my integrity and meet the unknown as bravely as I can (although, honestly, the best that I can manage sometimes is kicking and screaming while I’m dragged into the future), things have a way of working out even better than I imagined. I’m often quite surprised by how well things worked out in the long run.

    So, one way is to have faith. Faith that things are going to work out. That the help and direction I need will come to me when I really need it. That I will learn and grow in some wonderful ways on my new path, and reap some rewards that I didn’t expect and that I will come to value greatly.

    I truly think some wonderful things lie ahead for everyone. The unknown is scary, but the unknown can turn out to be sometime pretty nice sometimes, too.

  61. Leanne Hunt says:

    I like what Beth says above about this being my time to write. For years, the difficulty of getting an agent or being seen by a publisher presented the insurmountable challenge. Now the option to self-publish has opened that door and its all about the writing. This has necessarily shifted my focus and upped my game, made me consider my real reason for wanting to get into print, placed the spotlight on my fears and inhibitions, and got me committing myself to regular work. My time to write means my time to be heard, and now it’s all about fulfilling my responsibility.

  62. I’m still in the stage of sending out short stories and essays to lit magazines and contests, so I haven’t reached the publication/agent stage yet. But sometimes it does get discouraging when I think of all the people who write and the fact that only a small percentage of them get published; an even smaller percentage of them become successful. When I hear stories of how people like Snooki got not one but two book deals I become even more discouraged. But I try to focus more on why I started writing in the first place, which is that I have something to say and that writing makes me happy.

    • Elissa says:

      Don’t let what happens to other people affect you. As many writers as there are out there, there are more readers (believe it or not). And no one can write a book as fast as most people can read it.

      If you write the sort of book Snooki writes, rejoice for her publication because readers will want more of the same when they finish hers.

      More likely, you aren’t writing anything like that, which means her success is completely irrelevant to your own.

      Do what I do. Focus on writing the best darn book you know how. If that doesn’t sell, write another and make it better. Don’t worry about anyone’s writing career but your own. And above all, never lose sight of why you’re writing in the first place, which in my case is to tell a story, not make money.

  63. JC Emery says:

    All I’ve ever done is persisted when everybody tells me to give up or to be more realistic. That’s what I did about college, about teaching, about writing my book. I just do what I do, keep my head down, and let myself believe in fairy tales. Pursuing publication isn’t about being realistic, it’s about believing in your book enough that you believe it will defy the odds.

  64. Camille Eide says:

    Amen, Rachelle. I am hiking up my grown-up pants as we speak.

    You’re so right. Not everyone is called to do this. Not everyone can do this. And not everyone will be able to bring home bacon and pay the mortgage with their writing. You may be called to write because you have something to say that twelve people desperately need to hear, and by God’s grace, your better half pays the electric bill.

    Or you may be a full-time writer who needs to earn your keep with your words. If that’s you, you’ll keep an eye on the sky and the other scanning for every opportunity to sell your words. And another on the swiftly changing landscape of book commerce. I know, that’s 3. I suspect that’s what it takes to make a living as a writer. If you don’t have 3 eyes, and you’re still writing, you were probably called by God to write and it really won’t matter if folks buys your words or not. You’ll know you’re called because your guts would explode if you tried to stop. Which would be too late, sadly, so just keep writing.

    Regardless how many eyes you have, if you MUST write, and if it’s not too late, marry well. I’m joking. Mostly. ๐Ÿ™‚

  65. Beth K. Vogt says:

    Whether this is the best or the worst time to be a writer — this is my time to be a writer. So I can either put on my big girl pants and stay in the game OR I can yell “Foul!” and drag my whiny tush home.
    And do what?
    I’ve made a decision — and it’s that I’m pursuing my dreams. I didn’t get to choose the time — hey, my birthdate is a done deal. I didn’t get to choose the state of publishing industry.
    But I can choose how I play the game — what kind of attitude I bring to it.

  66. Pull on our grown-up pants and deal with it? Great advice. Thanks for being such a great cheer-leader, encourager, and advocate of authors.
    No, the sky isn’t falling, but the weather is certainly changing. Is it time to build an ark? No, but it doesn’t hurt to learn to swim.

  67. TNeal says:

    Depressing odds? How do I persist?

    I put on my big boy pants and go to work.

    As J. S. B. said above, “This is the very best time to be a writer.”

    We’ve got more ways to open doors, find answers, and move forward than at any other time in history.

    And for me, good storytelling still wins an audience. So my one focus then isn’t the stats. It’s the story. Can I tell it well?

    If not, then I can always reread J. S. B’s “Plot and Structure,” go back to the keyboard, and get better.

  68. Shawn Inmon says:

    I would be at least a little scared and nervous if I had my whole future tied up in the traditional publishing model.

    The wonderful part of being a writer in 2012 is the spectrum of options available. You’re still free to pursue the traditional route, but if that isn’t working for you, there are other avenues.

    It’s an exhilarating time to be a writer.

    I made the personal choice to not even bother pursuing the query route. Maybe I am impatient, but I want to get what I do out there and let it be judged by the marketplace.

  69. “How do you persist in the face of depressing odds and harsh realities?” Now that’s a question you have to stop and think about!

    Hope is a beautiful, crazy thing, isn’t it? Why else would we keep working at our writing? Hope gives me the power to get up in the morning and put my fingers to the keyboard. It’s like a little seed that grows bigger and bigger as I push toward my goal. The harsh reality is the odds are stacked against me – but the hope within me says there is always a possibility. I can’t stop trying.

  70. Natalie says:

    Love the suggestion that we put on our grown-up pants!

  71. Personally, I try to never read anything about the “state” of publishing. I close my eyes, lay down the horns, and charge.

    I’ve been doing this for a while now. I’m currently querying my second manuscript (literary fiction, a genre with a “state” all in its own) and I’m about to run out of agents.

    My first manuscript received one request for a partial, and zero requests for a full.

    So far, my second has received one request for a partial.

    What happens if my second doesn’t break through? Well, the third is halfway done, so I’ll repeat the whole process over again with the third.

    I’m confident in my ability; I understand perfectly well that it’s a matter of odds, not talent.

    Only way to beat odds is to, well, beat the numbers by increasing your own.

    Basically, I’m not stopping till I drop dead and that’s that.

  72. Depressing? Harsh? Hardly! This is the very best time to be a writer. Ever.

    Og, the cave man storyteller, got clubbed to death if he didn’t entertain. Clive Phutz, Elizabethan playwright, couldn’t get arrested while Shakespeare was in town.

    And too many writers to count have been locked out of the Forbidden City.

    Now, they can write and put their stuff out there and see what happens. Many of them are making actual money, the long green, the dough-re-me.

    Think about how stunning that is.

    There is no reason to be depressed unless all your eggs are aimed at one basket.

    Write all you can. Edit all you can. Publish all you can.

    Be a professional about it. Learn and study and keep producing the words.

    And your words will start to earn. Which is how it should be for the writer.

    Depressing? I laugh at my keyboard all day long.

    • Camille Eide says:

      This explains a lot.
      ๐Ÿ™‚

    • You’re such a legend ๐Ÿ™‚ Love it.

    • Jeanne says:

      I’m listening for your laughter now. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jim Gilliam says:

      Well said Jim! When I’m depressed, I think of your story about how your four year old son Nate wrote the perfect novel. Page one, “Robin Hood went riding.” Page two, “A bad guy came.” Page three, “They fought.” Page four, “He won.” Character plus conflict equals drama, followed by struggle and resolution of conflict. Nate got it right. Tolstoy’s War and Peace just fleshed out Nate’s novel.

      Even today, published is a synonym for professionalism. So be professional, write a great book and have it professionally edited. Above all, keep writing, keep trying, and be true to yourself and your craft.

    • This made me laugh at MY keyboard…err, screen.

      • Donna Pyle says:

        James, I love your attitude and outlook. It speaks of the great love of the craft itself – not the chaos around it. Applauding at my keyboard!

    • Good advice, Mr. Bell!!

    • Well said and so true. If we’re only in it for the money–well, we’d better find something else to do. But if we’re writing because we’re called to write, if we’re writing because it gives us joy, then the rest of this stuff is just background noise.

    • karen says:

      Wonderful to hear. Thank you James Scott Bell.
      And Rachelle, your posts are always so timely. Thank you. I want to cry with joy.

    • TRUE! Adversity or opportunity? Only the writer can choose which one he thinks this climate is for him. I agree with JSB. We’re in a climate of opportunity.

      If you want to come out on top, write all you can.

  73. When I started writing seven years ago, everyone was saying the same thing. If anything, the reality is even better now! So many more options to really decide what our goals are and how we want to make them happen.
    But yeah…keep on working, that’s what I try to do. In life though, praying, talking, whining, eating chocolate…those are some ways I deal with harsh realities. lol

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