Banishing the Monster of Author Envy

‘Tis the season to give thanks, and I would like to give thanks to fellow Virginia Romance Writer Adriana Anders for not only giving me the idea for this post, but giving me some much needed perspective.  Last night, Adriana announced she got an agent, and not just any agent, but her dream agent. As someoGodzillane who recently embarked on the great agent search and hasn’t gotten that call yet, the green-eyed monster should be rampaging around my brain while I devour a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

I’ll admit the green guy did raise his head and sniff around for a sec.  I’m  only human after all. But the important thing is he didn’t linger. So what gives?

I attended a workshop presented by an author/editor/life coach who said we shouldn’t dwell on other authors’ successes.  When a chipper participant asked if we couldn’t instead look at it as a source of encouragement, the presenter looked taken aback. She then replied that while a nice thought, she’d never met anyone who actually managed it. Well, I call bullshit.

It’s true there are only a limited number of clients an agent can take on, and books a publisher can put out that people are willing to buy in a year.  Even if you don’t choose the traditional route, your opportunity for success is limited by the other authors in the market.  However, it is possible to succeed purely on talent and motivation, and this was the reminder Adriana’s success gave me in my moment of panic.

Why would I be panicking you ask? My manuscript is already in the hands of a few agents and publishers due to contest wins, but I know the stats on getting signed, so I started querying agents a couple of weeks ago.  It turns out I only thought I knew how slim my chances of getting traditionally published are.  One of the agents I intended to query, one who I thought I’d really click with, has been closed to submissions since September and still has a backlog of over 5000 queries.  Five THOUSAND.  And she isn’t a partner in the agency. She’s a junior agent.  If I hadn’t been sitting in my office at my day job, I would’ve started hyperventilating or at least grabbed a bottle of wine.  Maybe scotch.

That was Friday morning, and I’d been on the verge of a panic attack all weekend until I read Ms. Anders post today. After a tinge of green, I thought, if she can do it so can I.  She’s living proof that success happens to regular people.  Heck, she even has toddlers who probably throw cheerios at her while she writes. That’s how real this woman is. Read her blog post for an explanation of her steps to success. Steps anyone can do.

So kudos to Adriana and all the other successful authors out there who worked hard and wrote the prose we all love to read. And thank you for giving me the motivation to keep putting myself out there. Because, once we stop sending our work out into the world, our chance of success is zero.

One comment

  1. This is such a great, honest, account and, man, have I there. I think we all have.

    There’s something I keep thinking, though, relating to your point about the number of books that people are willing to buy in a year. I, as a reader of romance with limited financial means, still manage to buy all the books that I want to read. Romance readers are a special breed–we’re more voracious than most. And from what I’ve seen thus far, there’s a cooperative feel to the industry that I haven’t encountered elsewhere. Romance writers are nice. Really, really nice.

    Anyway, like you said so well in your post, if I can get to this point (I keep thinking of this milestone as my arrival at Everest Base Camp, with the toughest yet to come), then you can, too. From what I’ve read of your writing, you’ve got the chops to make it and I have no doubt that you will.

    Between sweeping up Cheerios and writing the next naughty scene, I’m just glad to have provided a tiny bit of perspective–along with lots of hope!


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