Writing and Publishing: It is a Business

poutIf you are a writer who wants to sell your work, you are going to have to keep something in mind.  Publishing is a business.

When you get feedback from an agent or editor, don’t take it personally.  They are critiquing your work, not you.

As a writer, that can be hard to remember.  We invest so much time, energy and emotion into our work that what we have written becomes deeply personal.  Deeply.  When someone tells us that our setting isn’t strong enough, a scene needs to be cut, or our characters aren’t believable, we have to remind ourselves — this is not personal.  They are just trying to help us take our work to the next level.  That next level is 100% necessary if your work is going to compete the in market place. Whether or not you are a new writer or a seasoned professional, your work will be competing against the best of the best.

This means that when your agent tells you that no one wants dystopian YA at the moment, she isn’t telling you that you are clueless.  She’s telling you that your story idea likely won’t sell.  Remember, it’s a business.  This isn’t personal.

This means that when your editor tells you that she just isn’t passionate about this story, she’s telling you that this isn’t the right piece for her. She doesn’t think that she can take it to that next level.  Remember, it’s a business.  This isn’t personal.

When your editor asks you to coordinate your publicity work with the marketing department?  Still not personal.  The marketing department is in the business of . . . can you guess?  Marketing!  Selling books.

Your work is precious to you, and it should be.  It’s the only way you’re going to have the energy to take it from the initial idea to the polished final manuscript.  But if you are trying to sell your work, you need to transition from this personal approach to a business approach.  Why?  You are dealing with professionals.  Want to be one of them? Publishing is a business.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t have the occassional tiny tantrum, but save it for your writer’s group.  They’ll understand and they’ve undoubtably felt the same way.