An agent colleague is having a big auction today. I’ll be honest: I don’t see it. I cannot for the life of me understand why publishers are throwing obscene amounts of money at this project.
And that makes me feel bad. Am I a bad agent? Why don’t I see it? Why aren’t I in a huge auction having vast sums of money thrown my client’s way?
I tell you this because sometimes I think authors think we agents have it made in the shade (it’s my day to use very dated expressions I guess). But the fact is that we experience professional jealousy and insecurity just like you do. And the fact is that we shouldn’t. It doesn’t get us anywhere, and in fact, it probably gets in our way.
If you’re feeling bad because your friend is getting a book tour and you’re getting bupkus, or your friend sold their book for six figures and you sold yours for 15K, or you haven’t sold at all, or you don’t have an agent, or you don’t even have time to write even though you love it but you’re working two jobs just to make ends meet….well, you’re not alone.
I know because I spend a fair amount of time talking to authors who feel this way. And of course, because I sometimes feel this way myself.
I think my point here is two-fold.
One is that it’s all relative. I often tell my discouraged authors to realize what their careers look like to others. Mostly, they look pretty damn good.
Two is everybody feels like this some of the time.
And three (I added one) is that we ALL need to avoid this thinking as much as we can because it’s negative and destructive and crazy-making (another terrible expression, sorry).
You hear it all the time, but it’s so true: there’s an unlimited amount of success and good things out there. If your friend makes a book deal, that doesn’t mean there’s one less book deal out there for you. If your friend hits the Times list, that doesn’t mean you won’t too.
Okay, yes, once in a while you’re allowed to feel shitty and get into bed and eat lots of sugary candy (that’s me anyway) but really, try to limit feeling shitty not about others’ successes, but maybe just about the fact that you haven’t met your own personal goals.
And that, I think, is the antidote to all this obsessing about other people’s success. Set goals for yourself. Figure out a plan so that you can meet them. Don’t think: he got a NYT book review. Think: I want to sell 10,000 copies of my book. How exactly am I going to do that? Here is step 1, here is step 2, etc. etc.
Come from a positive place–what do I want to achieve–and not a negative one–why don’t I have what he has?
I can’t promise you’ll be more successful–but you’ll certainly be happier.
And I’m going to (try to) move on. I have a list of about 20 things I was supposed to get done today and I don’t think that obsessing about this auction was on it. Onward and upward!