Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Start of Something New

I always get excited at the start of a new year. A new year is a time for new beginnings. Not so much resolutions, but a time to shake off the bad habits, bad energy, or bad luck from an old year and start fresh.

I’m not usually one for concrete resolutions. Oh, sure, I’m vowing to get healthier this year, exercise more than I have been, and, of course, I always vow to sell bigger books with bigger deals. Nothing different from the last year really. I’m excited about 2008 though. There are a lot of wonderful things in my future.

I’ve got a number of authors with debut novels this year and I’m always anxious to see how a new author or a new series will be received. I also have a number of clients working on projects that I’m hoping will be ready to submit in 2008. Projects that sound fun and of course fabulous. And obviously I have a client list that continues to grow, as do the careers of my clients, and I can’t wait to see the directions they take.

Primarily, though, at the beginning of a new year I like to look back and see how far I’ve come. A long way from the small-town Minnesota girl arriving in the big city in an overly large “interview suit” and overwhelmed by the people, noises, and the size of New York. Determined, however, to make it. Can you hear the theme to Mary Tyler Moore cuing now?

At the beginning of a new year I also like to look back at how far BookEnds has come and how far 2008 is from that long-ago conversation Jacky and I had in her Brooklyn apartment in 1999. I was really reminded of that recently by an author query. This writer started out by telling the story of our first “meeting.” Upon hearing about BookEnds literary agency back in the day (2000), she sent off her partial. While I didn’t ask to see more of her material and I didn’t offer representation, I did send a detailed rejection letter outlining the problems I saw in her material. Sadly, that was something I had more time to do in the early days of BookEnds.

Excited by the effort I had put into my letter and confident that she could make the changes I asked for, she brought the letter to her critique group only to be dismissed summarily and criticized for querying an agent “no one” had never heard of and who therefore couldn’t be any good. They advised her to only contact agents recommended by RWA, as many suggest only submitting to agents recommended by AAR or other groups.

Well, in this new year I want to thank that author and the many others who were willing to give a new agency a chance. New beginnings are scary, whether you’re starting a business, a new book, the submission process, switching publishers, or just switching computers. It’s important to remember as we all move into the new year and our new beginnings, that it really takes the support of others to make them work. You can’t succeed at a diet if your friends are constantly buying you cake, and you can’t succeed at your writing if your friends are constantly belittling your “hobby.” Success comes through group effort and the support of others. I was happy to see that this author didn’t take the criticism of others and run with her tail between her legs. She found other groups, classes, and areas of support and now, seven years later, she’s submitting again and I’m thrilled to be on her list.

So in your list of resolutions I ask that we all remember what we can do for others as we’re doing for ourselves.

Happy New Year!

Jessica

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