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Notes From a Desk (4): A Simple Truth

Note: This is my 500th post here at Writer Unboxed, so it had better be good.

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adapted from Flickr’s an untrained eye

It’s been my pattern of late to struggle with topics to write about here, and landing on a topic for Inside Publishing month was no different. Ultimately, I decided to go with the simplest truth relating to Inside Publishing that I can offer.

I talk with a lot of authors on a regular basis because of my position here at Writer Unboxed. Because of that, I hear things that authors don’t want to or can’t say publicly for fear of negative consequences. I hear about relationships with agents and editors that have turned neglectful or even hostile. I hear about publishing deals that have gone sour, sometimes seemingly overnight. I hear about strong books that became rejected options, and being let go from a house after enjoying what seemed a mutually beneficial relationship. I hear about dropped balls of all shapes and sizes, about the need for sales audits over questionable bookkeeping, about lack of funding to support a beloved release, about print runs that pale in comparison to initial promises. I hear about authors who are reduced to shadows of their former selves because poor sales or dysfunctional relationships or even fears over an uncertain future have made them doubt–their talent, maybe, or their ability to persevere within the business for any number of reasons.

So. My simple truth for anyone who has felt let down by the industry is something I tell author friends from all walks all of the time.

You are not alone.

Everyone is weak sometimes, and everyone doubts occasionally.

These things happen, quite a bit more than you may realize.

Recovery from setbacks happens, too, just as frequently.

Because problems–even publishing problems–are temporary.

And business is rarely personal.

You can get past this.

There are at least a dozen ways around it.

It’s just hard to see those paths when your eyes are glued shut with disappointment.

It’s hard to remember the taste of hope.

But you will.

Here’s what you need to do:

Find trusted friends who will understand and help you through with ready ears and good advice.

Realize there are probably worse situations; the well isn’t as deep as it might be.

Breathe. Don’t panic.

Try not to think defeatist thoughts–

–or that it’s over.

It isn’t over until and if you say it is.

Don’t say it is.

You are a writer.

You are an author.

You have persevered, and you have earned your spine.

Feel it–the fit of thirty-three bones designed to absorb shock.

Stretch it. You haven’t done that in a while, have you?

It’s so strong, so resilient.

So are you.

Stronger than this moment, maybe, but that’s okay.

You’ll take each challenge as it comes.

You won’t let the industry control you, your drive, or your creative spirit.

You’ll control your art.

You’ll keep making it, because the world needs to hear your voice.

Believe that, and believe in yourself.

Because there are others–so many others–who believe in you.

(Even within the industry.)

Stop making that face. It’s true.

You are not alone.

Believe it. Say it.

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Now write on.

About Therese Walsh [3]

Therese Walsh (she/her) co-founded WU in 2006 and is the site's editorial director. She was the architect and 1st editor of WU's only book, Author in Progress [4], and orchestrates the WU UnConference. [5] Her second novel, The Moon Sisters [6], was named one of the best books of the year by Library Journal and Book Riot; and her debut, The Last Will of Moira Leahy [7] was a Target Breakout Book. Sign up for her newsletter [8] to be among the first to learn about her new projects (or follow her on BookBub [9]). Learn more on her website [10].