A Bad Economy? Whatever.

I’ve had a pretty good summer as far as book deals go. In the last week I wrapped up three exciting deals that I’ll tell you about when the contracts are signed.

Just prior to that, Kathi Lipp (author of The Husband Project) signed on with Harvest House for two more books (making a total of four): The Kid Project and The Me Project.

And J.L. Miles, author of the fabulous novel Cold Rock River, signed with Sourcebooks for her next novel, All That’s True.

Lots of good stuff happening, and to top it off, I’m sitting on a couple of manuscripts that I’m absolutely over-the-moon about and will be submitting to publishers in the next few days. Can’t wait to share the details!

My point is, even though the economy has been making a lot of people miserable for quite awhile now, business is still being done and publishing continues. Yes, it’s changing, but that’s true of our world at large, not just publishing. Yes, times have been rough, but we’re weathering it.

The one thing I can say about each and every client who’s selling books right now is this: They’ve been working at their writing and learning the business of publishing for a long time. They’ve been doing everything we always talk about on this blog, from working on the craft of writing, to being patient, to building an author platform. Two deals I negotiatiated in the last week were for debut authors. In one week I got to tell two people, “Your dream is going to come true–you are about to be published!” Both of those authors have been working towards this wonderful day for years. There is no such thing as overnight success.

Don’t be discouraged! Do the things you’re learning. Keep writing. Keep reading. Keep learning about marketing. Read books, read blogs, go to conferences, meet people. Persevere.

Because here’s the thing: It truly can pay off.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Elanor Balk on August 28, 2009 at 12:37 PM

    >Hi Rachelle-I love your blog. I just started getting into the scene and I am so grateful and amazed by the resources!

    I was wondering if you can tell me about The Nautilus Works and Nautilus Press. I'm interested in publishing through a vanity press, and I have heard they are really good. Could you tell me anymore?

  2. Kimberley Payne on August 26, 2009 at 8:44 PM

    >There is a season for everything…

    I believe this is a great season to be catching up on all the reading I've been meaning to do!

  3. OCDelores on August 25, 2009 at 9:03 AM

    >i'd love to read some tips on how to get an agent.

  4. Daisy Whitney on August 25, 2009 at 12:22 AM

    >I'll echo your points on all accounts, Rachelle. I landed my first book deal two weeks ago — in August, when supposedly deals aren't done — for my young adult novel and a follow-up to be written. It's worth noting, that my first book to sell is the fourth one I wrote, so keep writing!

  5. Samantha Clark on August 24, 2009 at 7:55 AM

    >Great post, Rachelle. It's always great to hear good news from the industry.

    Congratulations to you and your clients.

  6. Kathi Lipp on August 23, 2009 at 3:36 PM

    >Rachelle – I have been so busy this week that I saved all my favorite blogs for the weekend – and I should have felt my ears burning!!!

    I understand how blessed I am to get to do this. I am not making a full living from it (even though I have four books under contract – it is still going to be a while,) but I can't imagine NOT doing this.

  7. emilymurdoch on August 22, 2009 at 5:42 PM

    >Congratulations to you. One of the best parts about being an agent has to be making people's dreams come true.

    In a book on creativity, it stated there are prodigies in all the arts, except, overwhelmingly, amongst authors. One usually doesn't find a six year old lauded for writing an insightful, brilliant novel, although they might be for playing piano (virtuosos) or violin, or producing abstract paintings viewed as works of genius.

    The conclusion drawn was that writing a great novel, and having honed ones talent to that level, took on average forty plus years of life spent gaining emotional/life experience, deepening ones introspective skills, and practice, practice, practice.

    Understanding how much hard work and creative courage goes into the above, which is a talent in its own right, CONGRATULATIONS to these two writers!

  8. Linda on August 22, 2009 at 9:48 AM

    >Thanks for your words. It wouldn't be right if it came easy and I wouldn't write with as much emotion and understanding if it was dropped in my lap.

  9. Glynis on August 22, 2009 at 6:31 AM

    >I knew there was a reason I followed this blog! I love the inpiration I find, and this post has motivated me even more, thanks Rachelle.

  10. Rebekah on August 21, 2009 at 9:03 PM

    >Encouraging! Thank you!

  11. Tara on August 21, 2009 at 1:14 PM

    >I love that two of them are debut authors! That's great. And thanks for giving us an optimistic look at the industry.

  12. Gwen Stewart--Singer-Scribe on August 21, 2009 at 7:46 AM

    >Belated congrats to you and your clients, Rachelle! This is wonderful news.

  13. Rachel on August 20, 2009 at 9:15 PM

    >Super encouraging, as usual. Loved it.

  14. Anita on August 20, 2009 at 7:56 PM

    >I wrote a manuscript over five years, started searching for an agent, then discovered blogging and redirected my attention to it. I often wonder if I'll ever get back to the manuscript. Have I discovered that it is simply the writing that fulfills my passion, and not necessarily publishing? Although, I would love to get my blog post up to daily and get enough hits on it to earn money via advertising. Still figuring out the direction of my writing pursuits, while continuing to learn the craft – I guess.

  15. Heather Sunseri on August 20, 2009 at 3:21 PM

    >Thanks, Rachelle, for such an encouraging post. And congratulations on your recent successes. I can't wait to hear more about them.

  16. Joanne Sher on August 20, 2009 at 2:01 PM

    >This really is SOO encouraging. Plugging on is JUST what we need to do. Thanks for the reminder that things still ARE going on.

  17. R. K. Mortenson on August 20, 2009 at 1:53 PM

    >I received my biannual royalty statement just today on my first book. And received a royalty check that could almost get me a new Kindle. 🙂

    Very very few writers can live off their writing income. (Many full-time writers have a working spouse pulling in some dough.) I certainly don't have that luxury. But all the years of work (and frustration) are worth it. I'm getting very close to being ready to submit my latest project, years in the making. The "hunt" never gets old.

    Thanks Rachelle for the rejuvenating post!

    Oh! My wife's book group will be discussing COLD ROCK RIVER tonight! How cool is that?

  18. Matt Mikalatos on August 20, 2009 at 1:12 PM

    >Thanks for this, Rachelle. I just got my first deal recently… my book comes out in April from Tyndale! There's a lot of excitement from the book team there (and of course from my end!)… but like Rachelle said, I've been writing for a long time, too, and had worked on getting a few professional articles published, things like that. No one ever said anything about me being a first time author other than they hope there are a lot more books to come in the future! Hang in there, everybody!

  19. Heart2Heart on August 20, 2009 at 1:05 PM


    Thanks for imparting another good dose of wisdom and encouragement upon all of us hoping one day to reach that brass ring and getting our books published.

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  20. Laurinda on August 20, 2009 at 11:35 AM

    >I really appreciate the encouragement! Great post.

  21. Anonymous on August 20, 2009 at 11:27 AM

    >Thanks, I'm not thinking of myself but authors in general. Very discouraging when top magazines pay $2000-$3000+ for ONE article, and I was able to support myself (with a great husband). When you spend years or more writing a book, it doesn't seem fair. But who does this for the money? LOL

  22. Reesha on August 20, 2009 at 11:26 AM

    >I agree. 🙂
    Glad things are looking up for you.

  23. DebraLSchubert on August 20, 2009 at 11:24 AM

    >Thanks for the good news and sensible advice. Keep writing and improving our craft – that is the ultimate lesson, and where our joy resides. And, congrats on your continued success. You and your authors deserve it.

  24. katdish on August 20, 2009 at 11:20 AM

    >I'm learning so much about the world of publishing. The biggest lesson I suppose is that while you can enjoy your victories, you can never be content to rest of your laurels. The work is ongoing. I don't think there are many writers who can simply write and expect the world to come to them. Sometimes I'd like to think that the writing should be enough, but that's simply not the case. It's not enough to believe in yourself. You have to convince everyone else that they should believe in you too.

    Off topic, but I would love to hear a bit about how the introduction of Kindle and other electronic publishing sources has impacted the way books are marketed.

  25. Rose McCauley on August 20, 2009 at 11:16 AM

    >thanks for sharing such encouraging words today, and congrats to you and your authors!

  26. Billy Coffey on August 20, 2009 at 11:14 AM

    >That really is good news. I think doing the things we're learning, the writing and reading and marketing & etc., aren't things any writer ever stops doing, whether published or not.

    It's good to hear that business is still being done. I think when times are tough people search a little more for a story to inspire them.

  27. Melissa on August 20, 2009 at 11:13 AM

    >Anon 1:08, the chances of paying your bills with fiction are very, very, very, very slim. Authors on the bestseller list are still working full-time jobs. Authors with successful series and multibook deals are still working full-time jobs.

    But, that said, with a small advance, you're more likely to earn out and get royalties. Advances come ONCE, but royalties have a regular schedule. A writer who wants to support himself writing would do better to work toward a steady stream of royalties than an occasional large advance, particularly since not earning out your advance can result in being dropped by your publisher.

  28. Suzie Eller on August 20, 2009 at 10:59 AM

    >This is exactly what we are talking about on The Writers View right now, Rachelle. Great post!

  29. Kathleen Foucart on August 20, 2009 at 10:55 AM

    >Aw, this is why I love your blog, Rachelle. I don't write what you rep, but you're so great at giving advice and encouragement that applies to everyone. 🙂

  30. lynnrush on August 20, 2009 at 10:31 AM

    >What a great post. Thanks for sharing, Rachelle.

  31. Kristie on August 20, 2009 at 10:31 AM

    >I've not yet achieved my publishing goals, but as I look back over the years that I've spent writing and learning and persevering, I am truly thankful that I was not published when I first began. It is all in God's perfect timing, and I am thankful for the resource and encouragement of this blog.

  32. Cheryl Barker on August 20, 2009 at 10:14 AM

    >Thanks for the encouraging post, Rachelle. We need this kind of pep talk every now and then! 🙂

  33. JStantonChandler on August 20, 2009 at 10:13 AM

    >Thank you so much for this post, Rachelle. I've been so tired of reading such negativity about the book industry that I've actually stopped reading some blogs. I know things will never be perfect, but it's better to concentrate on the positive and do what we can to make things work than harp constantly on the negative. Thanks for the encouragement.


  34. Keli Gwyn on August 20, 2009 at 10:09 AM

    >Congratulations to you and your authors. How thrilling it must be to help make someone's long-held dream a reality. Thanks for all your hard work on their behalf.

  35. Lynnda - Passionate for the Glory of God on August 20, 2009 at 9:01 AM

    >Good morning, Rachelle!

    It is very exciting to see that both the writers' hard work and yours have successfully brought books out of the chrysalis stage. I know that we will soon have beautiful "butterflies" to enjoy.

    Shortly after I had begun to write professionally, I read an interesting article by Malcolm Gladwell in Reader's Digest December 2008 issue. In summary, his studies of people at the top of their professions showed that they had spent a minimum of 10,000 hours learning their craft.

    That fired my imagination. It gave me a goal and a constant source for a reality check. One hour at a time, I can study, write, and learn the business. With 10,000 hours as my long term goal, I set much shorter intermediate goals: 100 hours, 500 hours, 1,000 hours.

    Since I am a left brain and right brain thinker, I set up an Exel spreadsheet to track my progress and remind me of what I am doing and why. Anyone who has Excel can get a free copy of my spreadsheet by contacting me through my blogger profile.

    Thank you for the encouragement.

    Be blessed!


  36. Marla Taviano on August 20, 2009 at 8:52 AM

    >Hooray!! That's awesome!

  37. Alexis @ tobebeautiful on August 20, 2009 at 8:52 AM

    >This post is so inspiring. It's hard to see other people get book contracts. Sometimes the envy kicks in and discouragement takes over. But I am learning to REJOICE in their success. Like you say, perseverance pays off.

    So I am going to persevere and do what I know to do: write, love people, and love God. The rest will follow.

  38. Kelly Combs on August 20, 2009 at 8:12 AM

    >I must admit to getting green-eyed at times. When I hear "A publisher contacted me and asked me to write a book" on a blog, or see others getting success. I just have to remember what my original goals were and why I write. (To point people to Jesus, and because I love it). I'm doing that every day at my blog. 🙂

  39. Teri D. Smith on August 20, 2009 at 8:08 AM

    >Wow. Great to hear the encouraging news.

  40. Eileen Astels Watson on August 20, 2009 at 8:05 AM

    >Such and inspiring post! Thanks, Rachelle. Much appreciated. At least I know I'm on the right track with persevering through the learning and networking.

  41. CKHB on August 20, 2009 at 7:47 AM

    >I think it was Sharon Stone who said that it took her 15 years to become an overnight success… creative fields are like that, and we can't take it personally, we just have to keep working on our craft until the right time comes.

  42. Janna Qualman on August 20, 2009 at 7:41 AM

    >This is so very encouraging! Thank you.

  43. Rachelle on August 20, 2009 at 7:25 AM

    >Anon 1:08 – I hear your frustration. Most authors understand that even when published, it will probably be a long time until they can afford to quit their "real" job, if ever. It's always been that way in publishing. So the best thing to do is to keep learning about publishing, keep writing, and adjust your expectations so that they're more realistic.

    Still, that shouldn't take away from the excitement of getting published!

  44. Krista Phillips on August 20, 2009 at 6:54 AM

    >VERY cool! And such good and encouraging news too! Thank you so much for sharing and giving us all who have been working hard at all those things a glimmer of hope.

  45. Katie Ganshert on August 20, 2009 at 6:53 AM

    >How encouraging! Thanks for this post, Rachelle. I needed the encouragement this morning. 🙂

  46. Sharon A. Lavy on August 20, 2009 at 6:47 AM

    >Thanks Rachelle,
    We must persevere .

  47. ginny martyn on August 20, 2009 at 6:44 AM

    >I really, REALLY needed to hear that it pays off.

    Thank you for the strength to get back in the saddle (I had a total mealtdown yesterday).

  48. Jody Hedlund on August 20, 2009 at 6:36 AM

    >Congrats on such a successful couple of weeks!! Even though it's true, books are still selling, I think it takes a savvy, knowledgeable agent to be able work the deals in such a difficult market. Thanks for working so hard and doing such a great job at what you do!

  49. Marybeth Poppins on August 20, 2009 at 6:15 AM

    >I'm with Jessica…I hope the one person is who I think it is!!!
    How exciting for you and for all those authors. Especially for the two debut authors 🙂

  50. Jessica on August 20, 2009 at 5:55 AM

    >Yay! Congrats on the sales and congrats to those authors (and I think I know who one is, Woohoo!)
    I'm so excited to hear that deals are still being done. I just read in the RWR that publishing has always been tough. It was a famous author who said it and I agree with her. It's hard work but so sweet when it pays off. 🙂 Thanks for sharing! I can't wait to hear about all these new books coming out!

  51. Iain Broome on August 20, 2009 at 5:44 AM

    >I got an agent in June and I'm currently doing some final edits on my first novel. She's been telling me exactly the same thing (almost word for word actually!) and though the market isn't great, it certainly doesn't mean we should all pack up and go home.

  52. JJ Beattie on August 20, 2009 at 5:15 AM

    >I thought this post was encouraging. Why should anyone expect overnight success? Most rewarding 'jobs' require that we serve some kind of apprenticeship and writing isn't any different.

    Thank you.

  53. Anonymous on August 20, 2009 at 2:08 AM

    >Great news–congrats to you and your authors! But can you give us any idea of what debut authors can expect these days re: their contracts? Low advances, poor terms, small printing numbers–or what?

    I got very discouraged when I heard most advances run from $5,000-$7,500. So little for so much work and agony. How can people live on that? May as well go back to a real job. Sigh…Please give us some encouragement!