Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Starting Over - It's Tough But Sometimes a Necessary Evil

We have all experienced this one time or another. Your computer or another appliance is screwed up. You contact a repair person and the answer is something you really don't want to hear. The reality of the situation is that it will be cheaper in the long run to trash it and buy a new appliance. It is unfortunate but it is a reality.

When it comes to our writing, there will be times when, as an author, you have to start over and begin from scratch. Yes, this happens with our stories but it may also happen with our careers. It is this latter situation I want to focus on today.

I frequently get authors coming to me to represent their work who had a career a while ago. Maybe they had to step away for health reasons, job related things or any number of legitimate reasons. Now they are ready to get the ball rolling again and start back. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done and most of this stems from a change in thinking. In other words, what worked the first time is not going to work today.

As we all know, the publishing world is constantly changing. Not only do we have new platforms to deliver our stories to our readers, the approaches for submitting material and even the style of writing really has changed a lot. Heck, we see those stylistic changes happening within a single year. For that writer coming back into "the game" it is necessary to start thinking like a beginning writer. They have to really see their career with no history at all. This is not to say we can't talk about it during the submission and negotiation process, but in reality, what happened then might not have any impact on what needs to happen now.

Let's consider the submission process. In the past, the author might have just been able to submit a story simply on proposal. They talked it over with their editor or agent, they all liked the idea and the contract was signed. Simple and straightforward. We were able to do this in the past simply because you had a proven track record and we were seeing the work coming in on a pretty regular basis. At that time, you were tuned into the present needs of the industry and really producing what needed to be done. Once there has been a gap in that writing, these writers will now have to produce the whole project. Now you have to demonstrate that you still have it and you have adapted to that new style and voice.

This is really tough for a lot of writers. There was an expectation that, at some level, you just "deserved" to approach the writing a certain way. You know, you still do deserve it, but now, it will just take a little more to get back up and running again.

Don't take this the wrong way. We value the work but at this point, it is simply "starting over" again.


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