Friday, November 5, 2010

Things Not To Worry About

There's a lot of stress in this life. There are a lot of reasons to freak out. There are a few things that, pretty much without exception, suck. Full rejections suck. Bad sales suck. Bad dialogue sucks. There are things you can fix and there are things you just need to let push past and let go.

There are also things that you should not be worried about.

--People leaving publishing. I know that with Nathan Bransford's recent announcement, some of you are probably left feeling a little stunned. I am too! And remember how surprised we were when Colleen Lindsay told us she was going to stop agenting? And my second, incredible agent, Brendan Deneen, left to pursue a job as an editor (and is doing a fantastic job!) after we were together for just six months. (But glorious months they were, Brendan.)

It's jarring. It makes you afraid that someone's going to leave you in the middle of the process. It makes you wonder if publishing is going to shit.

Here's why you shouldn't worry. New agents are appearing all the damn time. My amazing agent, Suzie Townsend, has been in the game for just a little over a year, and she's made amazing sales since then (and seriously, if you don't know her name by now, you've got your fingers shoved in your ears). And she's not the only amazing agent we've gained this year. How about Mandy Hubbard or Taylor Martindale or Weronika Janczuk?

And there are still tons and tons of agents who have been at this for years and are showing no signs of stopping. And so what if they do? Just like there will always be new writers, there will always be new agents. Don't worry. Publishing might be changing, but it isn't going anywhere.

On that note...

--Paper books are dead, self-publishing is taking over, and it's the apocalypse. It's very easy to get sucked in to all the talk about how publishing is an outdated, dying model, and that if you have children in the next five years, they're never going to know what a book is. And they probably won't know how to write in cursive. Or how to read. Also books will be animated, Amazon will rule the world, and gay immigrants will start making out in our public schools.

Here's why you shouldn't worry. With the exception of that last one (which I am entrusting all you magic gay fish to ENSURE HAPPENS), none of this has to be your concern. Let someone else worry about all this shit. Shut up and write a book. They're not going anywhere.

--Celebrity books. They sell for huge advances. They're written by ghostwriters. They're not very good. They're cliche and pandering to an illiterate audience, so and so forth.

Here's why you shouldn't worry. Celebrity books sell for huge advances because they make huge amounts of money. Tuck away the jealousy and realize what this does for a publisher.

The more money they can make on sure things, the greater their ability to take a risk on new, unknown writers. In all likelihood, this means you!

Be proud of your publisher/a publisher you like when they buy a celebrity book. They're being fiscally responsible! It doesn't mean that the people there don't recognize good books. Trust me. They do. And if you don't like the celeb book, don't read.

--Twilight. It makes a lot of money, its merchandise fills the YA section, there are a million knock-offs of it, Edward is a pedophile, glitter sticks to your clothes.

Here's why you shouldn't worry. God, guys, this shit is old. No one cares anymore. We're the only ones talking about it. Move on.

--You get a small advance. So you're hearing about all these six figure advances, and even though you're freaking ECSTATIC that your book sold, you can't help but be a little disappointed by your three figure (for a small publisher), four figure or low five figure advance. You can't quit any day job for this kind of money.

You didn't have any delusions about writing making you rich, but you had a little inkling of a dream that maybe it would. And that's understandable.

Here's why you shouldn't worry. For a first book, a small advance can be a blessing. They're easier to earn out, and earning out gets you major props with your publisher, and they'll be more willing to take risks with you in the future. All that stuff about how hard it is to get off the midlist is scary, I won't lie to you, but it isn't a death sentence. You can always try out different age groups and genres, or you can win a bitchin' award, or you can chug away happily with your small advances and keep producing and producing and building a fan base. Your life is not over.

Hello, I'm Hannah Moskowitz, and I am midlist. And my life fucking rocks. So don't worry about it.

--Bad reviews. Son of a fucking bitch, it's not even that it's bad, it's that it's like they didn't even read the goddamn book. They spelled your characters' names wrong. They mixed up major plot points. They said they didn't get your main character's motivations, when nobody else had that problem. What the hell?

Or maybe it's a professional review, and they checked all their spellings and their plot points twice, but the guy who wrote the review must have been on his period or something, because he ignored all the best parts of the book and only focused on its faults.

Or maybe your book isn't out, or your book hasn't sold, but the idea of a bad review has you quaking in your shiny sexy writer boots.

Here's why you shouldn't worry. Yeah, they sting a little. But every book gets them, and everyone knows that. Go look up your favorite book on goodreads. There are people who hated it.

Then go look up books you hated, read the bad reviews, and laugh quietly to yourself. It happens. Learn to shrug it off and laugh at yourself. Don't respond, don't let it affect your writing, and, if you can--learn from them.

After a lot of reviewers commented on Break's weak ending, I started putting a lot more consideration into how I end my books. I hope it shows. And if it doesn't, well, fuck it. I can laugh it off. And then I can creepily go stalk books you liked more than mine and read all their bad reviews. It's a cycle!

52 comments:

Lynsey Newton said...

LOL Hannah, God bless you girl ;)

Stephanie S. Kuehn said...

Damn, you're good. Best blog post I've read in a long time.

hannah said...

Thanks!

Remilda Graystone said...

This post made my day. Thanks.

Ant said...

Way to lay it on the line there, Moskowitz ;) And this is why I admire you...no bullshit, just straight to the business. Keep keeping it real (and I say that at the risk of sounding like a complete fool...but really, keep keeping it real)

Steph Bowe said...

Dear Hannah Moskowitz,
I love you.
Sincerely,
Steph Bowe

Tracy Clark said...

Not that we needed further proof of your coolness, but daayuum! Great post, Sister! I'm going to flip a big finger to all my worries and just write! :D

hannah said...

Steph! I love you too. How's life, darlin'?

Thanks, Ant and Remilda :)

hannah said...

And Tracy! I was too slow.

Ann Elise said...

I don't know why my last comment posted as an email address I only use for spam :/

Anyway, here's what I said:

You definitely made me feel better about Nathan Bransford leaving. He was one of the agents I planned to submit to when I finished my (mutated) novel. I'll check out those agents you mentioned, as I've only heard of one of them before :)

IanBontems said...

Wise words and a good dose of sanity just in time for the weekend.

Thanks

Darcy Drake said...

LOL thank you for the words of calm and hilarity!

Weronika Janczuk said...

Hannah, you are one of the awesomest people I know. This is a fantastic, fantastic post.

Larissa said...

You are awesome.

I love you.

That is all.

Denise Jaden said...

Oh how I love you, Hannah Moskowitz.

Kristin Jr. said...

Awesome post, Hannah.

hannah said...

Thanks so much, everyone!

Kiersten said...

First time visitor - and that was great! Thanks!

hannah said...

Thanks! Hope you stick around :)

Amy Lukavics said...

Damn. I think I'm going to link this on my blog. THANK YOU, esp. about the celebrity book deal thing.

Jess said...

I want to hug your blog.

Tom said...

you have something in common with my CP, jessica tudor (www.jessicatudor.com). she just signed with suzie this week.

(feel free to welcome her aboard!)


-- Tom

Erin said...

You raised very valid points and made me laugh, which means that you win!

Thanks for the great post.

elissa said...

nice! we do spend a lot of time worrying, don't we? when we could just write.

(and by we I mean...*looks around* THAT GUY OVER THERE! *runs away to write*)

hannah said...

Tom--Jessica and I are already good friends :)

So glad you guys are responding well to this. Thanks so much!

Liam said...

Oh,this is wonderful. Just what I needed, actually. But now I have to lose my US status so as to become an immigrant, which in turn will make me a gay immigrant schoolchildren corrupter.

Hmmm.

Krista Ashe said...

Hannah, I needed this post. You are my sane link to the insane cluster fuck that is the publishing biz. I heart and huggles you!

*Ps. I wanted to try to say fuck a few more times for you, but it just wouldn't fucking go or something.

hannah said...

Krista--what the fuck?

Jennifer Hoffine said...

Great, Great Stuff! I especially love the fiscally responsible celeb books. I will throw out my sour grapes at once!

JoAnn said...

Great blog! I was thinking of giving up on my first project (well only for a second) but what you said here renewed my confidence. Thank you!

Nikki said...

You are so cool, Hannah. Of course, now I have to go out and buy shiny sexy writer boots. Don't wanna be the only writer without 'em.
I love your blog.
(Random note: They actually did stop teaching cursive writing in the schools down here, so my kid can't write cursive. But who cares?)

suzie townsend said...

Great post, as always.

"glitter sticks to your clothes" - haha, omg :)

<3

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Love this.

Christina Auret said...

I'm going out on a limb here, but I think a bad review is better than no review.

I've read books based on bad reviews, because even though the reviewer did not like it, something that was mentioned in the review appealed to me.

I have also picked up a book in store because it looked a bit familiar. I remembered the bad review when I read the back cover, but the description appealed to me and the bad review did not include the phrase: "worst writing I have ever read."

So more than one of the books on my shelf have been bought because of a bad review. I do not think I am unique in this aspect. So even a bad review might be something worth celebrating.

Colene Murphy said...

Wow. THANK YOU for this post. I love it. Brings me some peace! Much appreciated!

Abby Minard said...

Oh this was great. Thank you so much- it's very reassuring!

Julia Barrett said...

Hi Hannah - you are very wise for your years. I tried to comment but my computer was messing up this morning so after a major cookie and cache emptying...it's okay. Anyway, rather than commenting, I'd like to discuss this web post on my site. I won't do anything without your okay - you can email me at juliarachelbarrett@gmail.com
Thanks!

hannah said...

Go for it, Julia!

Christina--you're absolutely right.

sortitus said...

Hannah/hannah/current resident:

I started reading your blog a few days ago through your twitter, which I got to through a Maryland NaNoWriMo thread. It is awesome. Now I'm going to have to try out your books even though I usually read sf/f. I heart you so much already.

If you find a good place for mens sexy writer boots in the city, please let me know.

And in response to Christina's post, I often primarily read the negative reviews of a book on Amazon before buying it. Many four and five star reviews aren't very useful in determining whether you will enjoy a book or not.

Complementary close,
signature

hannah said...

ee, soritus, glad to see you here!

Julia Barrett said...

Thanks Hannah! Now I know what I'm posting tomorrow!

phyllis sweetwater said...

Wonderful as always. I really liked the ending to Break. It showed the MC's weakness and his resignation to let go of the control and responsibility. It was stunning. So write a better ending if you must, but you've had what it takes from the get go. I hope someday to be your best student. now get back to NaNo!

hannah said...

Thanks, phyllis! The ending did work for some people, and I'm so happy that it did. Hopefully my other ones will work for more people, hahaha!

Julia Barrett said...

Hannah, are your ears burning? I'm talking about you on my site. My very first romance - which has since been re-released with another pub, received a lukewarm, but very well thought out review. When I had the opportunity to revise it for the new pub, I kept that review in mind and it's a much better book. The reviewer and I have become great friends and she knows how her review helped me.
At the other end of the spectrum, I got a great review from a reviewer for the same book - she loved it, but used one word that freaked me out. I wrote a post on that word and she took umbrage...umbrage I tells you...and gave me a verbal smack down. I didn't even talk about her, I was talking about the connotations of that one word...

Bree D said...

I sooooo needed that kick in the pants.

Brendan said...

Nice.

Lydia Kang said...

Found this from Colene's blog. So great. Thanks for posting this--many of us needed to hear it!

tommygreenwald said...

funny stuff ms. m

Robin Mellom said...

You are so Spot-On, it's insane.
:-)

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

I'm new here and have yet to read Break, but I wanted to let you know that you're awesome. No, awesome really isn't the right word. Maybe fucking awesome works better...yeah, it does.

I just read a few of your posts and I will be back. Frequently.

Liz Czukas said...

I'm sorry I missed this before. You rock my socks.

- Liz

hannah said...

I love you guys.