I started this blog back in 2006 when blogs were a thing and social media was not. I’ve discussed one of the reasons I blog–to reach more authors than I could reach at conferences. My goal is still to empower as many people as possible with an education in publishing.
But there’s another reason I blog, one I don’t talk about very often, but is the real reason I started. It was to offset the negative and inaccurate information authors were receiving at conferences from schmagents and also, very good agents.
My experience as a conference panelist wasn’t always great. Sometimes I would get on a panel with like-minded agents and editors and we’d have a blast. We’d tell stories, have conversations and learn from each other while teaching authors.
And then there were the other times. The times I found myself sitting at a table with agents and editors who seemed to delight in complaining and berating authors. You could see the glee they felt in the power of their jobs. How they loved correcting authors and mocking them for mistakes. Finding ways to scare them until they submitted. It was painful and as much as I tried to refute what they said, there were times I was just outnumbered.
I promise though, even when outnumbered I was never silent. At one panel I actually got into a very heated discussion with another agent about exclusives–something I’ve written a lot about. The agent was demanding them, her argument that if the author received another offer they’d never go with her. I made sure all authors knew my feelings about all of that. Exclusives are never to your benefit.
Another experience was on a panel so toxic that during a break I went into the bathroom to call Kim. In near tears I asked if I could just leave and not go back. It was tempting, but I also knew I was the lone voice of positivity and if I left there was no one there to contradict the, well, mean-girl direction the panel had taken.
I survived. I’m not sure about some of the authors in the room. I hope that panel didn’t put any of them off publishing.
It’s a Team Effort
I don’t miss doing panels. There are plenty of publishing friends I miss seeing, but I don’t miss panels.
This business is a team effort. I wouldn’t be here without the authors. I have an endless amount of respect for what they do. I know I haven’t always behaved perfectly. Despite what some might think, I am still human, but I hope that I’ve always tried to build up and empower authors. To remind them that they are the most important cog in the wheel in this whole dang business. Without them, none of us would have jobs.
Writing, querying, publishing, all of it is a learning process. Mistakes in queries are an education, that first manuscript you submitted, you learned from it. There’s nothing or no one to shame over anything. If I did, you could really go after me for some of my first blog posts, editor lunches, or even those terrible email gaffes we’ve all committed. Trust me, I’ve got some doozies.