Writer Wednesday: Weathering The Storm aka When Opportunities Implode
Good morning authors and welcome to another Writer Wednesday! I had something different planned for today but in light of recent news, I thought today I would sit down for a more informal post. For those who haven't heard, Maximus Literary closed up shop without warning to anyone, including their numerous authors. There are many reasons the agency could have gone belly up. They might have signed on too many authors, too fast, without proper support to handle the load. Their expenses might have over shot their profits. Personal problems might have risen. Life happens. However, the lack of warning or courtesy to inform their clients of their demise is particularly heart breaking.
From the professional side, the book business is rough. Many small agencies and presses don't survive the first couple years, collapsing due to some of the reasons listed above. The lure to take on lots of clients in order to grow comes with many risks and fallouts, and even more established small presses that took the time to lay slow and steady groundwork to ensure their survival will experience growing pains from time to time. There are a lot of unpredictable factors and finding a business plan that works to the benefit of the house and its authors can take a lot of trial and error. Implosions like Maximus happen more than you'd think. From a personal point of view, I've experienced a few implosions myself over the years. So, in the event the floor drops out from under you, what is an author to do?
When Opportunities Implode
Whether your agent stops agenting, your small press folds, you lose a book series contract, or some other bookish disaster has befallen you, I am here to tell you, it is not the end. Even if it feels that way. The publishing business is infamously referred to as a marathon and not a sprint, but what they don't always warn you about is that marathon is riddled with pot holes and pit falls. There are stumbles. There are often more losses than victories, but the victories can be sweet enough to even the odds.
Allow yourself time to grieve. Sometimes these stumbles can leave you feeling particularly hopeless, the efforts and dreams you poured into something abruptly crumbling in front of you. Your trust has been broken. It can be hard to recover from that, and you need to give yourself the grace and time to feel that disappointment.
Reach out to the community around you. Writing Twitter can often be a storm of drama but when things implode, it will also come together to help cushion the blow. Many agents and authors are out there, offering advice, help, or just an empathetic ear. They've been there, too.
There are more doors to be opened. I give this advice with a grain of salt. I won't say there are more doors waiting to be opened because sometimes, you will need to rip that door off its hinges. For the manuscript that experienced this implosion, it might need a full gear switch, whether that be shelving it entirely, or finding a new path for it to take be it indie publishing or serialization or something else.
As authors, we need to keep creating. We keep writing more books, new books. And each book represents a new realm of opportunities. Some will be wins, some will be losses, and our personal success is how we take those losses in stride to focus on what we do accomplish. Writing often feels like a lonely business, but you are not alone. And many of us have shared a similar experience. You will weather this storm and come out the other side, stronger for it.