I Had No Idea What I Was Doing

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Dec 07 2021

This is probably a blog post that will terrify those clients who trusted me enough to sign in the early days of BookEnds. My apologies, but I think we’ve done ok.

Here’s my confession. There were days when it felt like I had no idea what I was doing. It’s not entirely true, it just sometimes felt that way. As it does anytime we’re starting something new in life. No matter how much we think we know going in, there are days when we feel like we know nothing at all.

But when it comes to achieving your dreams there’s never any way to truly know. You just have to dive in. And that’s exactly what I did. And I kept on diving.

What I Did Have

Certainly, there were a lot of unknowns in my new venture, but there were also a ton of things I knew and was confident in.

While I had never worked in an agency, I did have years of experience in publishing. I had worked my way up from assistant to senior editor in just five years. It meant I knew something and people trusted me.

I had a strong editorial eye, meaning I knew a good book when I saw it and, most importantly, what could sell and how to could sell. Even in editorial, a part of my job was selling–to the publisher, the sales team, and marketing.

What I didn’t know from experience I learned through mentorship, workshops, and by asking a lot of questions. In other words, I knew what I didn’t know and I found a way to learn. For example, while I knew I could negotiate a solid contract upfront, it took some help to understand the details of the contract itself.

What I Didn’t Know

What I didn’t know were the intricacies of how an agency works. I had been on the receiving end of hundreds of submissions, but I’d never written a pitch letter of my own. As with selling, marketing is a strength of mine. To be honest, I learned from the best–authors. Receiving dozens and hundreds of queries teaches you pretty quick how to write a strong pitch. Especially if you pay attention.

The biggest lesson I learned was about networking. When I quit my publishing house job to work as an agent I really thought I knew people. Once I started submitting it dawned on me that I really didn’t. Not everyone, from every publishing house. So I put myself out there. I asked for introductions, I made lunch dates, and I called people up. I made sure they knew me.

How I Succeeded

In the end, though, it wasn’t what I knew, or thought I’d need to know for the future. It was what I did that made BookEnds succeed.

What I didn’t know I could learn. I asked questions and listened to the advice of others. I made allies throughout the industry and I just kept at it. I persisted.

No matter what I knew or thought I knew going into BookEnds, I would not have known enough. There’s no way to plan for precisely what the future will hold. Sometimes you just need to dive in and keep diving as new opportunities and experiences arise.

One response to “I Had No Idea What I Was Doing”

  1. I love the honesty of this post. Thank you!