The best advice I have for both my clients and my agents is to keep moving forward.
In the early days of COVID work from home, BookEnds did one thing. We kept our heads down and we worked. We didn’t stop offering representation and we didn’t stop submitting. We knew that books were going to need to be published, that publishers, in order to survive, would need to have a list. We vowed to give it to them.
March was good. We were on track for a decent year. And then everyone officially started working from home and April and May hurt. Sales were down for us, but I’ll be honest, not nearly as bad as what we thought it could be. We were doing okay. Things like layoffs, even for our intern, never crossed my mind.
And then June and July hit. I’m not sure what happened, but I speculate all of those people who were working under the belief that life would return in June and they were just getting through April and May, suddenly realized that just getting through would not keep a job.
June was good. We were back to 2019 sales numbers and we were busy. It felt like things were a little more back to normal and I could feel spirits rising at BookEnds. And then July.
I can honestly say in 21 years at BookEnds, never have I seen a month like July. Never have we sold so many books, or worked so hard. The quote heard around the office quickly became F***ing July, said with awe, amazement, and a slight twinge of exhaustion. July. F***ing July.
Up until the last day of July we continued to be blown away. There was dancing, joyful screaming, virtual high fives, and champagne. Lots and lots of champagne.
But July happened for one reason and one reason alone. Because this group of amazing people kept their heads down and did the work. Even when things looked bleak in March, when April and May felt endless and tiring and pointless. When editors weren’t responding. They kept their heads down and submitted, they read their submissions and took on new clients. They woke up every day and did the same work they did in February, January, and in 2019.
You’ve heard agents decry that they are on the road to their worst year ever. I’m so proud to report, that’s not happening at BookEnds. It might not be our best year ever, but I’m here to say, it’s going to be pretty close.
Tips for Author
My tip for my clients is the same as I gave my agents. Keep moving forward. When your book is on submission, keep writing that next book. When you’re getting rejections, keep writing that next book, when you’re under contract, keep thinking of ideas for the next thing.
Keep submitting, even if it’s summer or a pandemic or the world looks bleak. Keep moving forward and controlling the one thing you can control. What you’re doing.
My philosophy, one that I believe has kept clients publishing for close to 20 years, is you need to keep moving forward. Keep thinking of new ideas, learning, and growing your writing and keep pushing for sales.
2020 is a year. I have no idea what will be next, but what I’m completely confident in is that we’ll work our way through and celebrate on the other side.