Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Is this really a job you want?

HELP WANTED: AUTHOR. Available immediately.

 Must be proficient with MS Word. Must be able to show highly developed skills in the area of spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Must demonstrate an understanding of plot, character, world-building, dialogue, pacing, etc. Organizational finesse is a plus. Must be able to create large amounts of content on a daily basis. Must be able to develop and convey a unique "voice" for multiple characters. 

Must capably transform visual scenery both distinctly and memorably into the written form. Must be highly creative. Must be familiar with genre tropes and aware of the current market trends. Must be predisposed to research activities, and possess the focus to stay on task, thereby avoiding the loss of countless days spent tracking a small fact that ultimately has no bearing on anything other than your personal fascination and curiosity. 

Must be content to look at computer screen for indeterminable hours per day. Must be amenable to repeated rejection, and continue working, learning from mistakes, and maintaining a good attitude. Must be willing to work on a deadline. Must be agreeable to paying for own travel expenses to attend various industry conventions and talk in front of crowds on panels. Must be happy to pay for own promotional pieces such as bookmarks, postcards, signage for signings, blog tour packages and the occasional well-placed ad. 

Compensation: There are no medical/dental/vision benefits to be had. No 401K unless you DIY. If published, actual pay is widely varied, might break down to mere pennies per hour, and often depends on factors such as: amount of advance, if any; breakdown of advance; royalties, if any. Agent fees may apply. **Achieving goal of being published is not a guarantee. However, if publishing is achieved, applicant may count on: 

1.) having a lengthy editorial letter outlining specific and required changes. 

2.) having the editorial mark-up leave you feeling completely incompetent with your own language.   And, 

3.) having reviewers mercilessly shred your work and question your competence as a human being.


Who in their right mind signs up for this?
("right mind" being the words to focus on)

But we as authors do sign up for this wild ride, blissfully and willingly ignorant of most of these underlying job-requirement truths. Oh, sure, we know the depressing facts are there, if we dare to look them up, but usually, we prefer to hide our eyes and let them spring upon us naturally, learning about/dealing with them in the unique order they come to us. We just want to write, and we are sometimes blind to all but this driving need to purge our words perfectly onto the page. Too soon, we are caught in the story's grip, writing, writing, writing...determined to finish, to sell--to be good enough--while doubting ourselves constantly because we work in that cubbyhole of an office, alone, except for that tiny doubting devil on our shoulder who won't stop whispering in our ear.

Like people who buy houses on fault lines and live in denial of ever being an earthquake statistic, we authors forge onward denying the unlikelihood of best-seller-dom, intrinsically believing we will make it, craving laurels for our stories, and all the while fearing the repercussions of sharing our wonderful words because opening ourselves to that criticism exposes our deepest vulnerability. 

Demoralization sinks her claws into all of us. But like any super villain, she has one mortal enemy. *cue heroic theme music*


I sold 3 books to Juno/Pocket Books. When the contract for the 4th was looming, I contacted a few agents in the genre. I felt like I should make a modest attempt. I didn't try for the biggest, brightest agents, not the one I really wanted. I'd entered the published arena  via the small-press door, so I didn't think a big name would be interested in me.

Two agents responded and in turn I sent them partials of other series/books I had, puzzled why they didn't ask to know about the series I had already going. I mean, I kinda had an implied contract in hand. Easy money to represent me then, right?

I got turned down. 


New-ish agents, growing their stable, turned down a writer with a contract in hand.

Demoralizing??? Can I get a "Hell yeah!"? 

I couldn't beg them to take a cut of my money. WTF???

So, feeling I had nothing to lose, but determined to keep on fighting this fight, I contacted my Dream Agent. Yeah. The one from whom I already had no less than 8 rejection letters in my possession

Crazy, right? Why would he bother saying yes now?

He asked me to send him the first 3 books. Happily, I did. At least he was considering it, yanno? He read them. He asked to see the manuscript for the 4th, understanding that in the meantime, I had to go ahead and sign the contract for the 4th in which he would not be representing me. Still, he consulted me on the fourth book. 

Why yes, you did read that right. 

Dream agent hadn't signed me on, and he still treated me like I was already in his stable. *Beaming and feeling special.*

Dream Agent did sign me and he represented me for two more contracts. He remains my agent and I adore his skills, and am ever-grateful that he took me on. So listen up, y'all: in the darkest moment of my demoralization, I stayed determined, and I ended up with my Dream Agent. 


You ARE stronger than that.


  1. "hereby avoiding the loss of countless days spent tracking a small fact that ultimately has no bearing on anything other than your personal fascination and curiosity."

    ...and it will eventually aid me in the theft of your chocolates. ~evil laugh~

    1. *Travels to Gotham. Breaks into Police Commissioner's office, Uses red phone to get Batman on security detail.*

  2. Great post, Linda.

    Yeah, the job description can pretty much suck when you look at it that way. But you forgot the most important benny: In exchange for all the bullshit, you get to fly.

    1. Indeed. The good parts about the job are /very/ good.

  3. Hmmm, WHY do I do this writing thing again??? Oh, yes, because I love telling my stories....chocolate is good too. Another terrific post!

  4. *re-reading description* I think I need to have my head checked.