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When A Line Closes

It's always a little depressing when a series or imprint closes. There are few enough markets, it seems, and to lose two more and cause even more authors to compete for the markets you're targeting? well, it's enough to discourage any writer intent on selling. And considering one of them actually seemed to be doing well financially, it seems like sheer capriciousness on the part of the publisher. If books that are selling well can be canceled, what the heck chance does any other book have? And is there any way of predicting the actions of a publisher?

Here's an old chestnut of wisdom: the Chinese character for crisis is "danger" and "opportunity." The people who can see the opportunities are inevitably the ones who are going to come out on top.

This sounds like a facile thing to say. But in this business, I firmly believe that attitude is the primary thing that separates authors that publish, and authors that don't. All the craft and strategy and output in the world is not going to make a difference if you're not flexible, ready for disaster, and able to roll with it. Some tricks to "rolling with it."

1. First: a little help from your friends. Get in contact with friends who understand why it's painful. Cry, kvetch, rant. Eat chocolate, drink wine, and commiserate.

2. Second: pick some "low-hanging fruit." You had proposals in to the lines that got closed. What else can you do with them? Is there another line that, with tweaking, it might fit into? Have you considered changing it to a single title, and if so, what markets might be interested in it?

3. Third: get busy, baby. If you haven't been rejected at least once, then you haven't tried getting published. Change is an integral part of the landscape. You've got other projects that you're working on. As soon as something's in the mail, switch gears and work on something else. It cushions the blow if something (like the above) happens.

4. Fourth: go for the natural pain killer. Get your body on your side. Go for a long walk, get some exercise, take lots of deep breaths. Meditate. You'll get some perspective, and your body will produce some endorphins/serotonin to help combat the line-closing blues.

First published in the SFA-RWA newsletter, August 2004. For more information on SFA-RWA, click here.

About Cathy Yardley

Cathy Yardley

I didn’t plan to be a writer. But, like the quote says — if you want to be a writer, try being anything else.

My life is a portrait of all the “anything elses” before I came to my senses. I graduated from U.C. Berkeley with a double major in Art History and Mass Communications. I moved to L.A. with the full intention of figuring out what job I wanted to do, doing it until I could retire, and only then seriously considering writing a novel. Why? Because real people didn’t write books for a living. (Stephen King , Nora Roberts, John Grisham, Tom Clancy, they’re not real people. In fact, I don’t think they’re human. Haven’t you wondered?)