Monday, April 20, 2009

Publishing may not be perfect but...

Like any other industry publishing has its flaws. I'm not here to talk about those. We've had enough of that recently.

Instead let me tell you this: Tonight I sat down at my desk at 11pm to read my email. I have 143 unanswered messages (up from 56 just last night!) Some of it's pretty ordinary, some of it is just the social lubricant that keeps our business running, and some of it is magic.

Tonight the magic is in an email from a client. He's starting his third book. He sent me the first 20 pages and an overview of where the book would go. I read it. Then I read it again.

I'm amazed all over again at how talented this guy is. This isn't news: I knew it from the query letter. I knew it from the first and the second book. But, like a really delicious taste, you never fully remember till you taste it again. And yum yum yum, this is one tasty hors d'ouvre of a novel. And I'm sitting here at home, feet propped up, swilling a diet Dr. Pepper and reading something so good the only thing wrong with it is that there isn't more.

And reading this new work is my JOB! I don't have to excuse my reading as a pastime, or a hobby, or a break from work. This IS my work.

And I get to read these kinds of tasty things often!

Do you know how lucky I am? I do.

For every person who doesn't like the query system, or the agent/query/submission system, I'm sorry. I'm sorry because you don't LOVE your work, all aspects of your work. I do. I love this job. There are parts of it I love less than others, but I LOVE this job.

I'm profoundly grateful to be an agent, and be graced with clients who are talented beyond measure (although if you're an editor, don't think we won't be measuring with dollars, nosirree bob!)

I love this job, I do.
I hope you love yours too.


Kerry said...

I do.

Laura said...

I do. Unfortunately, my last day is Thursday. But it's all good, it was an assistantship, so I knew it was up when I graduated. Here's hoping I'm doing what I really love this fall, teaching and writing.

Anonymous said...

This post really made me smile. Yes, I too enjoy my job. But even more than that, posts like this make me at peace with rejections, because in the end I want an agent that responds to my work as passionately as you clearly do to your clients'. Seeking out that right fit, that perfect agent for me, is worth the rejections :)


Jenn Johansson said...

Great post! On all days, good or bad, I do. :)

Suzan Harden said...

VBG Thank you once again for making a very valid point. I'll quit writing when it stops being fun. Sure it would be nice to be published now, but as long as I'm entertaining my crit partners, life is good.

Jenna said...

Thank you, Janet. I needed that. I think we all did!

So many people don't do what they love, and when they do, they forget they love it. One day, I hope to have you love something I wrote. Hopefully, it will be obvious that I loved writing it.

Stephanie Feagan said...

Jesus, I'm a sap. I got a bit misty.
Either you hit a chord, or I'm PMSing.

Anonymous said...

GAH I am so jealous of you. I wanna be an agent too! But there's all the law bits and paperwork and what not. Sigh.

I'm studying lit right now so I get to read really fabulous books for work as well. Unfortunately I then have to write essays about the fabulous books, which is not fun at all.

Jo said...

I absolutely love my job. Even querying agents. I mean how bad is that really? Compared to normal jobs like doing inventory or receiving or working in retail folding shirts? Not so horrible if you put it in perspective.

Kwana said...

Wonderful post. I'm so glad you love your job and your clients. They are lucky to have such a passionate supporter.

lotusgirl said...

That's fabulous. It's so important to love what you do.

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous reminder, Janet. Thanks for this post. It's all too easy for authors to forget that they got into this because they had a story burning inside of them, and it's their fabulous words that make our lives worth living.

I'm also totally jealous that you're up that late working. My brain has an automatic shut-off default at 9 p.m.

That Writer Chic... said...


Your post put a smile on my face this morning. It's an awesome thing when one enjoys their as you do.

Congrats !


Eric said...

I wish I could love my day job as much as you do. Thanks for the chuckle though (about the editors).

Susan Adrian said...

I do love my job, with a similar passion.

All three of them, actually.

(not really last) Mom

Thanks for being so passionate about our work!!

Anonymous said...

Amusing, that I just posted about this over at Jessica's blog, where she too was commenting on the fact that agents and editors do this because the love it. They love books and the business of working to see them put into print. And it makes a very good point to all those writers participating in the agent/editor bitchfest '09 that has been going on over the past month or so. Agents and editors are in this for the love of books. For writers to point at them with the mighty finger of blame for why writers fail to get a chance at publication is missing the simple fact that the reason the majority are in this difficult and frustrating business makes it kind of impossible that they wouldn't have writer's best interests at heart.

DeadlyAccurate said...

I try to think of which part of writing I don't actually like, and there isn't any. Oh, I have days, definitely. Days I'd rather be writing a first draft than revising. Days I'd rather be revising a finished work than writing a first draft. But I love both. I love reading edit notes and letting them stew in the back of my head. I love having a fresh new idea I can't wait to commit to paper. I love when the book has been written, revised, revised, revised, and I can see a finished story that only needs tweaking here and there. And--possibly because I haven't had to do one in a couple of years--I even love the challenge of condensing my story into a pitch paragraph or tagline.

Chris Eldin said...


I love reading, but I could never handle the stress of being an agent.

BookEnds, LLC said...

I LOVE my job. This week I have at least three manuscripts from clients I "have" to read. Can you imagine anything better? I "have" to read!

--jessica faust

Anonymous said...

I love my job! Love it, love it, love it.

It has nothing to do with publishing; I am a film buyer---the middle(wo)man between theatres and film companies. I LOVE it.

I consider myself very lucky to have a job I enjoy so much.

Margaret Yang said...

I love writing! I get to play all day with my imaginary friends, and the playground is always open.

Robin Wendell said...

Nice post! I really enjoy reading about your world. I have found a couple of your clients on Twitter and they are cool folks with neat tweets and interesting blogs.

I want my 'someday' agent to feel the way you do about your clients writing so I keep blogging to keep up my chops while I finish my novel. It's my first and it needs a lot of work to make it a "OMG- I love this" read. That's my dream, to tell a story so well that people sigh with pleasure. It looks so easy when you read great writing but I have discovered that it takes a lot of work....fortunately it's work that I love.

I'm hoping someday someone will say-

"She) had a wonderful talent for packing thought close, and rendering it portable." Thomas B. Macaulay

Drew said...

So who is the author?? I want to read his work!

Vicky said...

A Coke Zero toast to your Diet Dr. Pepper.

For me, writing is a passion. A little over a year ago, I turned down a new job opportunity at my company. It paid significantly more $$$, but I knew I'd be working 12 hour days for a year or more. If I'd taken that job, it would have cost me my writing - again. I'd been in that position once before without a choice. This time, I already had a steady day job & decent if not spectacular pay. So I said no to the new job & yes to writing.

The way I figure it, I only get one rotation on life's ferris wheel. So I've decided to do what I love. No matter what happens, I'll never regret this writing life.

Leif: A Voyage said...

Everybody loves this post. Your enthusiasm ignited people! :-)

I quit a longtime job doing database work which I enjoyed and for which I got paid ridiculously well to write.

Not just to write; I did that already.


It feels so good to hear how much you love your work...because we all want passionate, believing partners as we do this.

Your clients are lucky.

Query Letter Countdown: less than 30K words now.

A good night to you, Janet. Thank you for the joy in this post.

Bobbie said...

Your post made my day. Thank you. After my first few rejections, I realized that it's the writing I love, regardless of what follows it. And that I won't be any happier once published than I am unpublished. Sure, aspects of my life will change, but the jobs won't: I write; I edit; I mother. And with all three jobs, there are aspects I don't enjoy, but I wouldn't choose to quit any of them. Ever.

Laura Marie said...

Congrats on your deal to Delphinium Janet! Evan Mandery's book sounds incredible.

Laura and Suzy

GutsyWriter said...

My passion for writing started on an island in the Caribbean. Our family moved there to escape the rat race of Orange County, California, and I discovered from writing long e-mails to family and friends back home, how thirsty they were to read about our new life in Belize. I started writing everyday and grew to love it thanks to a shift in priorities in this part of the world. Not having a car, television, malls and movie theaters, gave me the peace and motivation to write. It's the only thing I've done in my life where I can sit still for hours and get lost in my head.

Wendy said...

Janet, I think it's so awesome that you love your job. We all work so many hours of the day -- our jobs consume us even when we're not at work sometimes. How can a person dedicate so much time to an endeavor that makes one miserable. Life is too short. And I am so thrilled that you and others have found your "thing". It's good to be HAPPY. :)

Your post made ME happy!

Sharon Kirk Clifton said...

I felt your excitement upon reading those few pages. As a member of an ACFW critique group, I get to experience a bit of that same anticipation when I critique a well-written ms. Fun!