love what I’m doing and I’m very thankful that you love it, too.” Readers respond tremendously positively to this when it is genuine, and I think they respond negatively to the opposite.
I think it comes down to this: we work in an industry where people don’t need what we’re selling. The only reason people buy books, especially fiction books, is that they find it to be an edifying experience. If what readers get from you is that the experience is edifying for you as well, there’s a good chance they’ll become a fan. If not, there’s a good chance they’ll never look your way again.
As you know, I’m constitutionally jazzed about the book world. This not only makes it easier for me to get up in the morning, but I also think it makes good business sense for the reasons stated above. I could probably get a job at Chipotle as well, which is good to know, since one should always have a backup plan.
As an organization, I think we have a responsibility to keep each other jazzed, and I encourage more of that kind of conversation on the loop and at the conference (where I hope to see all of you—it’s going to be a ridiculously good show).
It’s best for all of us.
Goal Buddies: Partners on the Road
Continued from page 1 online for a few years, working with partners to swap industry information and to stay on target in a career that can be as isolating as it is difficult. What makes a goal buddy relationship different from a simple friendship with a fellow author? Your mutual commitment to your goals, and to helping each other achieve them, along with establishing a system of accountability—that vital feedback loop that spurs you to keep going.
In addition to my own experience, I had the chance to ask some questions of NINC members who have goal buddies. Glynnis Campbell and Lauren Royal have been goal buddies since they met at an RWA conference more than a decade ago, while Jenna Kernan, Susan Meier, and Deb Mullins had known each other for years, and sought each other out about two years ago when they wanted a closer connection with a fellow writer (or two!). Each writer found that having a goal buddy increased motivation for working, gave them a sounding board for new directions, and helped them find new opportunities and understandings in the publishing world.
How do you find a good partner and agree on your plan? It helps if your buddy is at a similar career phase—it can be hard to stay motivated if your buddy’s goal is to finish the revisions for the next installment of her NYT best-selling series, while you’re hoping to overcome a years-long slump, afraid you’ll never sell again. Writerly envy can work in your favor, if it spurs you to work harder on your own project, but it can also backfire if it creates a sense of despair about your progress. It helps to remember that this is not a competition; it’s meant to be a collaboration that results in both of you achieving your goals. Glynnis remarked, “I think the best goal buddies are completely supportive of each other, have the same level of self-discipline, are willing to listen patiently to ideas, fears, excuses, dreams, and whining, and can be absolutely trusted. It also helps to prefer the same brand of wine!”
Jenna suggests, “You might want to consider someone who writes a different genre or subgenre and for a different house. This gives you a more global pool of knowledge and helps minimize competition that might arise between partners writing for the same editor, line, and publisher.” All the authors I spoke to appreciated sharing industry information, concerns, and perspectives with another professional, and a positive attitude makes all the difference. Susan notes, “The purpose of any support group is to find your potential and help you fulfill it. Nervous Nellies and Worrying Wandas can set you back rather than help you go forward.
Though you need honesty, honesty also has to be tempered with enthusiasm.”
Keep in mind your goals don’t have to be identical. Jackie and I started out in a similar rough patch, so the 100-word challenge made sense, but the key here is accountability and feedback. The goals do need to be specific and achievable: contact X agents for the new work by Y date, complete so many chapters of revision, assemble a promotional plan for your next release. Depending on your goals, your goal buddy may take a