Keep Moving Forward

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Sep 01 2020

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.

The Turnaround

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.

20 responses to “Keep Moving Forward”

  1. Avatar Charles Richardson says:

    I’m glad things are looking up for your employees and clients. Good news in a climate like this is always welcomed.

  2. Avatar gaye mack says:

    A wonderful post, Jessica! Many thanks for this — congratulations to you and the team at Book Ends for your hard work and belief in moving forward!

  3. Thanks for this. All of your posts are inspirational, but this one, especially, hit home for me. It was something I needed to hear today, and I can’t wait to finish my new manuscript and query you guys again. And I’m not even going to stop and paint the bathroom or bake a pie first. Lol (Well, maybe a pie.)

  4. Avatar Karen says:

    I’m so happy to hear that you’re doing well! I knew from my records that I’m objectively not getting responses to my queries as quickly as I had in the past, but I’d been thinking up much gloomier reasons for that. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Avatar Patty Warren says:

    Good advice! Some days it’s been hard to see that light at the end of the tunnel, but
    I stumble through until the next day. And then the sunrise is brighter!
    Thank You,

  6. Avatar Marcia Fowler says:

    Thank you for posting this. Summer time is always difficult for me for writing, given that my kids are on vacation. But this year I did keep up with submissions, in part due to your regular postings. You helped keep my writing spirits up. 🙂

  7. Avatar Janice Clement says:

    Great blog post. I am a self-employed interior designer and have my first fictional book off to the editor as we speak. I have 4 more books in the works and don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. What I have learned as an entrepreneur (which I have been for the better part of 25 years) is that if you let fear and uncertainty rule, you never will. Keep your head down. Do the work. The rest will fall into place.

  8. I love this for so many reasons. Our house normally is filled with our adult kids and grandkids in summer (we live on a lake, so I think they may be coming to visit the lake!) 🙂 The upside to this 2020 summer has been I’ve got time to write, unusual in summer!
    Thanks for the uplifting, hopeful post.

    • Avatar Kathy Nieber-Lathrop says:

      You rock, Jessica. Your inspirational messages drove me to move forward. I put my head down and did the work during the 2020’s hardships. My reward is my debut picture book, out later this fall.

  9. Just what I needed. Thanks! *putting head down again*

  10. Avatar Karen Painter says:

    A published writer friend put me on your list. I enjoy your site but need a description of what services you could offer me.
    I am a new writer, a senior citizen and prefer short stories. I am not interested in writing/publishing a book. Other options?
    Excited to hear from you.

    s becoming your client right for me and any information to help a beginner.
    A senior citizen, I am in a writing group but not interested in publishing a book. I prefer short stories and am wondering if there is a market (e.g. magazines) for them.
    I need to know who you are and what you do!

  11. Avatar Karen Painter says:

    Just reread my comment. So sorry. My computer is misbehaving and so is my sprained wrist. As you can see, the section mid-way, beginning with “s becoming” needs to be deleted.
    Apologies! KP

  12. Avatar Shawna Johnson says:

    Thanks for the uplift! I needed that pep talk to keep pushing.

  13. Avatar Miriam Logan says:

    Sage advice. We were just talking about you and your good advice in Kathy’s PitMad group. Thanks a gain, and keep those gems coming.

  14. Avatar Shawna Johnson says:

    Thanks for the uplift! Pushing forward!

  15. Avatar janice lance says:

    I want to add my thanks to you for the wonderful, uplifting post. It was a needed positive boost and such reassurance that Bookends has stayed on the course with hard work and positive thinking. Good advise for writers. As I wait for results of my submission, I will continue the work on my next book and to send out the queries. Keep up the good work, Jessica. No wonder Bookends is such a terrific agency.

  16. Avatar AJ Blythe says:

    Congratulations to the BookEnds team and to yourself, Jessica. Great advice as always 🙂

  17. Avatar Andy N says:

    I was almost part of BookEnds F*cking July, and working hard be part of 2020’s success stories. (This year needs all the good news it can get.)

  18. BookEnds has been a port in the storm. A rock of normalcy. Thank you.