Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Expectations & Other Things That Make My Head Explode

In the publishing industry, from year to year, month to month, day to day, minute to minute--it is more than difficult to know what to expect--it's impossible.

So, in an industry as volatile and ever-changing as ours has become, how do you maintain reasonable expectations of yourself and your work?

It's easy to measure ourselves based on the success of our colleagues.

I have one response to this: Don't.

Everyone has their own paths to publication, to their version of success. The learning curve in writing is steep and unending. Comparing ourselves to each other leads to depression, a desire to quit, and a very strong urge to pluck your own eyes out with a fork.

Again I say: Don't.

There will be those people who query ten agents and get four offers, but it's very unlikely that it will be you.

There will be those people who will go out on submission and their book will sell at auction or a preempt within the first month. That probably won't be you either.

So why keep going?

Because you're the only one who can decide your own limits.

Set your expectations on things you can control:
~ Your first book will most likely make your goal to be sure each one (#2 or #72) is better than the last.

~ Your first ten queries will probably attract nothing but make your goal to improve your query until the agent can't help but request.

~ Your first ten requests will probably still end up in make your book shine so the next ten will fight over you.

Make your goals about improving on your own successes, and learning from your own mistakes. Your success is between you and you. Don't drag anyone else into it.

If you just keep writing and improving--you are succeeding. Don't let anyone tell you any different.


  1. Wonderful and uplifting post today! Thank you for the reminder, Jenn. It's so easy to compare and contrast then get down in the dumps. We need to keep on our blinders and concentrate only on our work. This is one biz where tunnel vision is actually an asset.

  2. I really needed this today, Jenn. Thanks. :)

  3. You're welcome. I'm so glad you guys enjoyed it!

  4. Focusing on things you can control is about the only way to stay sane as a writer! Thanks for this inspirational post.

  5. Don't! But do what only you can. Great post:)

  6. And it's all about the journey anyway, imho. That's what I'm really in this for. If I ever decide to query I plan to take James Dashner's example. Go out to dinner after every 10 rejections.

    Even celebrate those, since it means you had the courage to query.

  7. All true, so true. Thanks for posting this.

  8. When I saw your name it threw me for a minute...I have a sister-in-law with the same name except that she goes by Jenni. Pretty weird, huh!? Once I wanted to be a writer, but with all these kids, a blog will probably have to fill that goal...