Fellow fans probably recognize that as the title of the Foo Fighters’ 2007 album title, but in fact, they’re also the four basic tenets of publishing. Little-known fact, right? But so true. To wit:
Echoes exist in so many forms in publishing. Sometimes, it’s hearing the same damn thing over and over until you want to scream. (Oh, you want the next John Green? How nice for you. I’ll grow a penis ASAP.) Sometimes, it’s the despair of seeing the book idea you’ve been working so hard on…in someone else’s PM listing. Sometimes it’s hearing over and over that no one’s taking your genre. Sometimes it’s hearing “Your genre’s so hot right now!” a billion times, even though you’re still magically not selling in it despite that fact.
Any of those sound familiar?
Shut them down. Don’t let them get to you. I know it’s easier said than done, but the fact is, these things never go away. So there’s only letting them get to you…and not letting them get to you. Choose wisely.
“Oh, inbox – why are you so quiet?” – pretty much every writer who’s ever queried or been on sub. Silence sucks, but reading…actually takes time. And sometimes, silence means the reader is slow, but sometimes, it means the reader is on the fence and trying to decide, and sometimes, occasionally, it means your pitch fell through the cracks, and sometimes…we work way too hard thinking up excuses when we should really just writing another book 🙂
A certain amount of silence is recommended on the part of authors as well. That whole “The first rule of sub is don’t talk about sub” maxim? It exists for a reason, and in fact the same reason it’s ill-advised to publicly discuss the details of your querying while it’s happening – why announce that an agent or editor isn’t your first choice? Why let an agent or editor know that anyone has passed? They don’t know the circumstances, or whether it’s been passed on because of a matter of personal taste or the imprint/agency already having a similar book. All they see is “X didn’t want it, so why would I?” And why put yourself in that position when a little silence can go a long way?
Patience is hard. It’s a virtue to be sure, but one I don’t naturally possess. That said, it’s one of the most important ones to learn in publishing, because you will spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting for responses, for edits, for your cover, for reactions to your cover, for conversations with your publicist, for blurbs, for awards, for press, for interview questions, for evvvverything.
And yes, there are lines you can skip. You can skip having an agent, and self-sub. You can skip subbing and self-pub. You can skip getting an editor and self-pub a first draft. But with every decision you make, it’s important to ask yourself the question: Is this really what I want? Or am I letting impatience make my decision for me? And it could genuinely be the former! And that’s great! But if it isn’t, you have to decide if it’s worth compromising on your dreams and goals for the sole reason of not being able to wait.
And yes, no agent is still better than a bad agent. Yes, really.
Ah, Grace. That thing that allows you to accept rejection without response, or perhaps a thank-you if the rejection contained helpful notes. That thing that allows you to split with an agent or CP and not bash them all over the internet. That thing that allows you to critique a book thoughtfully and not personally attack the author, or review totally subjectively without revealing that you hold a particular bias. Or to not write a post that erroneously calls out certain people while promoting other, kinda terrible ones, because you can’t be bothered to do research. NOT THAT I AM TALKING ABOUT ANYTHING SPECIFIC.
Ummm…so maybe regarding grace, do as I say and not as I do.