Why The Bad Economy Is Great For Unpublished Writers

11 Dec

In my real life, the job I typically hold (if I hadn’t been laid off with my entire department) does a lot of strategic planning with higher-ups in the company. Why do you care about that? Because the opinions I’m about to share come from watching strategic planning, poor planning and lack of planning at all levels of different size companies. 

The economy is bad.  (That understatement was for the people under the rock.)

Everywhere you look publishers and agents are downsizing their author stable. Publishers are laying off people — sometimes entire units. Buying freezes have stopped editors from acquiring new books and/or authors.

This is fabulous news for unpublished writers. Ok, don’t laugh. Yes, I’m being Glass Half-Full Girl, but it’s also true.

Any time a company lays off, backs away from their standard production or stops moving forward because of economic issues (internal or external) there comes a time when (unless they’re going under) they need to pick everything – and often more – back up and start running again. And when I say running, that’s fairly standard. Companies either dip a toe or dive in. And typically, if they need to dive in, they’re ill prepared to do it.

Why? They’re short staffed and sometimes short sighted. The need to stay afloat usually outweighs the need to look far enough forward to see what they’ll need then. And so, when the economy eases and the day to day starts to pick up again, I’m guessing several things will happen.

One is the rehiring/restaffing of the publishing houses. Those brought back will most likely have been busy keeping their own financial heads above water. This probably will not include looking for the next big thing. Oh, I know they’ll keep themselves abreast of what’s going on (if their good) and keep an eye out for the “just in case” situation (if they’re very good) and continue to network in their publishing world whether they’re now selling shoes to old ladies at the local mall (if their insane, motivate, have 6 hours more in a day than the rest of us and very, very good). When these slots are filled again, there’s going to be a need for Great Stuff Fast.

Also, old paradigms will be tossed. New ideas, authors, genres, stories will be even hotter. Old names will be comfortable, but who knows what the world will feel like on the other side of this recession.

Mergers, acquisitions and competition falling away do not just happen when the economy is going down — they often happen during recovery as well. There will be new partnerships that will shape things as an entirely new landscape.

When higher-ups finally see the light, no matter what the industry, they want things NOW. If this goes on long enough, there may be a huge jump of spots at the end of this crisis. Who will fill that hole?

So, in that time, what will writers be doing?

It depends. My bet is a lot of them will stop writing. Some because they get frustrated and give up. Some because of the “the economy’s bad, why bother” idea. Some because they’re working so hard at just staying afloat. Some because they feel the gave a run at it and it didn’t pan out, so that’s that.

But I won’t. I will be using this time as the huge blessing it is.

My senior year of college, I had too many degrees adding up and so I was in more than one Senior Symposium. It was great….ok, it was HORRIBLE. I was so stretched for time, I had no idea when I was going to write the huge papers and create my workshop talk for each. And then, nature smiled on me: We got almost 4 feet of snow. No school for 3 days plus the weekend.

I took a breather and then I dove in, using the time to finish everything due in those two weeks and start on the huge projects. I walked into the building the following week, relaxed, up to speed and ready to go. The professor announced that one of the offices was looking for some help and you’d get to work with someone who was typically unapproachable — could anyone fit that in? Guess who had the only hand that went up? Yeah. I was lucky. Darn lucky. And most of that luck came from hating being cold so much that unlike my friends I wasn’t leaving the house to go to the parties.  I hate being cold.

But I learned a valuable lesson: Found time can save you’re life and open you up to amazing opportunities.

Don’t get me wrong… I love to use my free time to relax, read, hike, hang…. BUT when you’re handed a gulf of time and there’s nothing you can do but wait it out, why not use it to be a couple rungs up the ladder when it ends?

Here’s how I’ll be using this time during this bad money time:

  • Continue writing
  • Continue reading
  • Continue polishing
  • Continue querying
  • Continue learning
  • Continue networking
  • Grow my book stable

Hey, those agents and editors have Author Stables….Shouldn’t authors have Book Stables. Are you pushing everything you do to move your writing career forward PAST what you think you’re capable off. When this is over and and editor replies to a submission with “not for us, what else do you have” will you have something else … and something else…. and something else….

Will you have brought your writing not to the next level, but to the level you’ve been reaching for this whole time?

Are your books so clean, that fast turnaround times are doable and make agents know they can shop them sooner rather than later?

Are you ready to be everything and anything you should as a writer to make it past this time? Maybe you’ll get picked up now, GREAT! But if not — be there when the door opens, because I’m betting it’s going to be much bigger opening than the one we have today when it does.

 How are you preparing?

6 Responses to “Why The Bad Economy Is Great For Unpublished Writers”

  1. Gwen Hayes December 11, 2008 at 7:12 pm #

    I completely agree.
    And for those that quit…that just means one less ms in the slush pile mine is sitting in.

  2. Scribefarm December 11, 2008 at 7:33 pm #

    Hey, this is a great article! Just reading blogs and came across yours. I completely agree that it’s a free-lance market right now. As companies try to save, they’re going to look to those that are willing to take a minor cut in wages, or those looking for exposure. Great work!

  3. briaq December 11, 2008 at 10:40 pm #

    Yup Gwen!!! It’s a sad hope, but it just gets the reading done faster *wink*

    Thanks Scribefarm – Things are changing in an OBVIOUS way — unlike all those really hidden ways we ignore like, say, cross genre writing or, um epubs — I mean, we could ignore that entire industry, right?

    Oh, and on a separate note — in regards to the Book Stable. Happened to a friend of mine. She sold book 17 and they said “what else do you have” and the rest is history, my friends!

  4. Imogen Howson December 12, 2008 at 6:39 am #

    That’s such a great post! Thanks Bria! 🙂

  5. briaq December 12, 2008 at 10:56 am #

    Thanks Immi 🙂

  6. randy December 15, 2008 at 8:54 pm #

    Great post.

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