Is It the Economy?

Yesterday I was chatting with my friend, literary agent Sandra Bishop, and we found ourselves pondering whether it was our imaginations, or have the number of incoming queries really skyrocketed over the last couple of months? We’re both receiving incredible numbers, and as my post yesterday illustrated, most of them are simply not ready for prime time.

But I found myself wondering… why the sudden increase? And it occurred to me that maybe… just maybe it has something to do with the economy. Maybe people are looking for ways to make extra money right now, so they’re pulling their old manuscripts out from under the bed, dusting them off, and sending them out. Could this be true?

I’ve received more than one plea from frustrated writers, saying things like, “please, I really need a break here,” or, “forgive me, I’m just trying to stay alive.” It breaks my heart! Obviously there’s a great deal of stress out there, financial and otherwise, and it seems that for many, their manuscript represents the hope of a way out.

I even noticed it on Idol this week. Remember that girl who looks like Fantasia? (I think her name was Lil.) She really wanted to get on Idol as a way for her family to get out of their financial rut. And I thought… wow, there are so many in that predicament. The economy is hitting people where they live, and they’re looking for something, anything, to improve their situation.

I am SO compassionate to that. I know what it’s like to struggle financially… especially having been self-employed for years. As the economy goes, so my business goes. I get it! And I feel really sad for the folks who are looking at me—or any agent—as their one last shining hope. Often, I have to disappoint them. It’s hard!

So my questions for you today are…

How has the economy affected your writing career, or pursuit thereof?

Can you think of any other reasons the queries are increasing?

Answer in the comments… and I hope you have a good weekend!
Rachelle Gardner, Christian literary agent, WordServe Literary Group, Colorado.

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!


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  3. Tea Time Consultants on December 23, 2009 at 2:02 PM

    >Rachelle, I do not know why you are having an increase in the number of submissions. I can only guess. Maybe the people that are unemployed have more time to write than the others who have the demand of the full time job and family.

    As writers, we like to write. As a business person, I like to share ideas with others. Could be the economy, but for sure it is all in God's plan.

  4. Camille Cannon Eide on February 17, 2009 at 11:06 AM

    >This topic came up at my ACFW meeting last night – with Sandra Bishop, oddly enough. Randy Ingermanson told us he had spoken to a writer recently who said his reason for choosing this time to pitch a book comes from the fact that due to a layoff, he now has the time to pursue his long-time dream of writing a book. And maybe this is a time for many to re-evaluate this time as an opportunity to do things they’ve wanted to do – maybe we’ll see a lot more people reading as well as writing. Maybe.

  5. Joanne@ Blessed... on February 16, 2009 at 7:18 PM

    >I think you’re right, the economy surely has a hand in this. My husband is a professor at a local college, attendance is through the roof right now. People are taking a closer look at just what they want to do, what they can make money doing.

    A depressed economy does decrease my chances of getting a contract from a publisher. They are looking for a sure thing – a writer with a national platform.

    Talent doesn’t seem to be enough right now. BUT – I plan on treading water longer than this economy can make it rain!

  6. Susan Marlow . . . on February 16, 2009 at 5:19 PM

    >You said, “Maybe people are looking for ways to make extra money right now, so they’re pulling their old manuscripts out from under the bed, dusting them off, and sending them out. Could this be true?”

    Make extra money? From being a published author? Hmmmm…. sort of like trying to make extra money by being an “extra” actor in a film. There are the big guys out there, and then there are the rest of us.

    Whatever $$$ I make goes right back into marketing and promotion. A vicious (but addicting) habit. LOL

  7. Meredith Teagarden(The Things we Carried) on February 15, 2009 at 7:25 PM

    >My guess is the economy is doing it. People all around me are losing jobs and homes. They are trying to think outside of the box of what they have been doing and maybe have time to write more.

  8. evilphilip on February 14, 2009 at 6:51 PM

    >The question I would ask is: Are the quality of the submissions getting any better? I agree with you that in this economy that everyone is looking to become the ‘next Stephen King’ because a lot of people see writing as a way to dig out from under their financial burden.

    In my own situation I’m finding that in this economy I spend more time on my writing because I’m not out doing other stuff — who has money to do other stuff???

    I’m not sure if that has made me a ‘better’ author, but I sure do churn out more pages.

  9. bleebonn on February 14, 2009 at 5:33 PM

    >Wow – I’m just the opposite. I’ve pulled back from sending queries because I figure its not really a good time with all the layoffs in the publishing industry.

    I’m just going to concentrate on writing and making my novels better while I ride this wave. I am still going to the Big Sur Conference in March. I signed up back in November but if I had waited a couple of months, I probably wouldn’t have gone just yet.

    It sounds like you all have figured it out. Lots of people with more time on their hands or they think its a quick and easy way to make money. It will be tough when they find out its not.

    Best wishes to all during these hard times.

  10. clindsay on February 14, 2009 at 5:14 PM

    >Rachelle –

    I’m also seeing an unusual increase in queries. In the past, I generally averaged about 70 or so a week. As a newish agent, that seemed about right to me. But in the past three months or so, I’m seeing as many as 500 a week, most of them so badly written that it’s very clear to me that the query writer hasn’t even bothered to take a passing glance at my submission guidelines. Several of my agent colleagues have also mentioned seeing a sudden increase in email queries. Maybe it is the economy?

    (Verification word: tragic. Yes, I’m totally serious!)

  11. Achim Zahren on February 14, 2009 at 12:42 PM

    >I think it’s the American Idol phenomena. You no longer have to be good rather you only need to be noticed. Sending an electronic query letter costs a dollar less that a powerball ticket and you’re odds are slightly better

  12. Joshua on February 14, 2009 at 12:36 PM

    >How has the economy affected my writing career or pursuit thereof?

    To be honest, tension and urgency are trying to break down my doors of common sense. They are like dogs biting at my heels. I took an early retirement so I could finally pursue full time writing(I have one book published). Now it looks like I’m going to have to go back to work–at least part time so I can help pay for health insurance…and this means less time writing…again. I think the scary economy just may well weed many writers out…who just can’t give their dream anymore time.

  13. Dineen A. Miller on February 14, 2009 at 4:24 AM

    >Ironically, my financial situation was what made me pursue writing seriously four years ago. That foolish notion quickly went by the wayside. In order to keep writing I had to start pursuing something flexible and would give me freedom. I was never more thankful for my degree and years in advertising, and my little business was born. The economy has definitely played a significant roll.

  14. Julie Poplawski on February 14, 2009 at 1:12 AM

    >When do people write: I think when times are tough people reflect, go into their souls a bit more. Thats where the creativity lies, where they feel connected to their imaginations and passions more deeply. My most profound ideas come from melancholy moments. I bet we see a rise in great music from this year as well. Cheers to creativity – no matter what it takes to birth it! Thanks for representing the best that arises.

  15. T. Anne on February 14, 2009 at 1:10 AM

    This explains a lot. I believe there is also some sort of reverse vortex taking place which might explain why I am getting so few responses from my own query letters. Perhaps I am being hotly sought after by some long since departed literary agents. I have a feeling they find my ideas rather avent gaurde and strangely futuristic. Maybe they will pass on some of my notes to say….Jules Vern?

  16. Megan on February 14, 2009 at 12:26 AM

    >i was made redundant from my job last week.
    which really sucks cuz it was a bookstore and apart from the obvious, i now have no money or anything!

    i am going back to school to study writing and editing full time, which is AWESOME and i can’t WAIT, but who knows how i’m going to cover rent?

  17. christa on February 13, 2009 at 11:51 PM

    >Oh, I thought that would explain why there are so many hysterical novels right now. . .

  18. Sharon A. Lavy on February 13, 2009 at 9:23 PM

    >That is too funny!

  19. Timothy Fish on February 13, 2009 at 9:20 PM

    >It took me all day, but I think I’ve figured out the reason for the increase in the number of queries. It isn’t so large that most people would notice, but there’s a small tear in the fabric of space. Go outside and look at the moon. You’ll see that it does quite come into focus. That’s about the only place you can see this tear, but the end result is that the query letters from the past are getting bunched up in our time. This also explains why there are so many historical novels right now.

  20. Anonymous on February 13, 2009 at 9:06 PM

    >Great advice, thanks! Re: slow or no responses: I’ve had a full out w/ a top agent for three months now, but after the initial request for a partial, I’ve been dealing only with the agent’s asst. who confirmed the ms. was rec’ved via e-mail. She hasn’t responded to my status query this week so should I e the agent directly, or wait a couple more weeks?

    Could she be laid off or just swamped with work? I hate to bug them (esp in this economy) but they seemed very enthusiastic about my ms. and always responded immediately (ms. sent before Black Wednesday). Help!

  21. Mary Anne Graham on February 13, 2009 at 8:28 PM

    >The economy, my husband's job loss, the tightening of the publishing market and the always elusive agent hunt added to the rise of e-publishing have made me re-think keeping old manuscripts moldering away on my hard drive. Amazon's Kindle and Mobi (Amazon by any other name)……

    Here's the link to my MS on kindle

    and on Mobi

    Maybe it's time to venture into the brave new world…….

  22. Rachelle on February 13, 2009 at 8:23 PM

    >Dear Anon 5:49, re: your question about HarperCollins. This is just another in a significant string of layoffs and reorganizations in the biggest publishing conglomerates. Obviously it’s much bigger than publishing, it’s the entire economy. And I believe publishing would be going through big layoffs and cutbacks right now even if we weren’t in a global recession. You ask, “Will it right itself?” Depends on what you mean by that. I believe this is a seismic shift in publishing and when it all shakes out, we’ll be looking at a “new normal.” But I’m no expert, I’m just calling it as I see it. There are many people much wiser than I, who are trying to answer your question, and it will be a long time until we know the real answer.

  23. Elaine on February 13, 2009 at 8:23 PM

    >Or could it be that because people are spending less time at their day jobs they have more time to pull out that manuscript they started many years ago but didn’t have time to finish when they were working full time?

  24. Anonymous on February 13, 2009 at 7:50 PM

    >The increase, I think, has also to do with the stars in a lot of a “non-writers'” eyes. With some big-name authors selling like they do, why wouldn’t anyone think they can do it too? People often see the glamour about hitting it big writing, what with lightning striking thrice (J.K., Stephenie, Paolini) in recent years, one doesn’t see the careers steadily build, like with Stephen, John G., and Dean Koontz; they only see the books and movies and think “Hey, I can do that! It’s nothing to write a book!”
    Then they face the blank screen…

  25. Anonymous on February 13, 2009 at 7:49 PM

    >Thanks for your replies! Here’s one more:
    Q: How will the HarperCollins lay-offs, etc. affect the publishing industry? Will we see a continued Domino effect as publishers/imprints/stores fold or will it right itself sooner (we hope) or later?

  26. Katy McKenna on February 13, 2009 at 6:03 PM

    >I have to say that if I were truly financially desperate, I would not be willing/able to afford the lag time inherent in publishing—any more than I would be able to afford believing that I would become the next American Idol, thus redeeming my family’s economic woes. I am not saying I would not be writing through the downturn, only that I would not depend on being “discovered” and published on a basis timely enough to save me and mine from ruin.

    Also, it seems to me that when booksellers are doing poorly, publishers are cutting back the number of titles they acquire, and agents are working double time to place their clients’ books, a fledgling, unagented author might do well to consider waiting a few months (or more) before adding her query to the mix.

    Am I missing something? If the answer is yes, I won’t be surprised! 🙂

  27. raballard on February 13, 2009 at 5:48 PM

    >I do not write for financial gain, although I will admit I wouldn’t pass it up, I have a new found hunger, which had lain dormant for sixty years. I write because the voices in my head demand to be heard. I know that is an overused cliché, but it is true.

    I am getting some good feedback from my blog, which I enjoy, writing. I have been blessed with a witty sense of humor and a vivid imagination, which I put to good use in my blog.

    Having lived my life relatively invisible, I cannot deny the recognition is a welcome relief.

    I really don’t want to open my old wounds, suffice to say I grew up craving positive recognition from my parents. I graduated in the top five percent of both my high school and university, but I was told that wasn’t good enough. I should be in the top one percent.

    I sent a copy of my manuscript to my father to read. He loved it, said he could see it becoming a movie. “Well done son” (That is the only time he ever told me that)

    I write because it defines who and what I am.

    I want to share my gift. If that doesn’t happen, I am happy with what I have done.

    (I am astonished I have not been banished yet. I do hope this post will not get me kicked out of the Rachelle Gardner fan club)

  28. Amber Lynn Argyle on February 13, 2009 at 5:45 PM

    >I think it’s made it harder to get published. My agent has had my MS with major publishing houses for over four months, and I’ve yet to hear anything from any of them. Perhaps their response times are slowing because they’ve cut back employees?

    Another thought on the queries, maybe people made New Years Resolutions and they’re just polishing them off.

  29. Amy Nathan on February 13, 2009 at 5:32 PM

    >For me, queries are increasing in the freelancing market – because I need more work. But, I am making sure that all my queries are tighter and stronger than ever.

    As for querying an agent, I’ve pushed that back for the same reason. I have to be better than the rest, and to make sure of that I’ve taken extra measures — more rewrites, hiring a freelance editor, more market research etc.

    So I do hope that your increased flow of queries is also more high quality than ever before, because that’s what’s going to pull a writer through these publishing doldrums.

  30. Philangelus on February 13, 2009 at 4:24 PM

    >Well, due to the economy (I suppose) my literary agent closed his agency. Hence my recent sending of query letters.

    But you may also be getting them because it’s a result of everyone’s New Year’s resolution to get that book published this year. 🙂

  31. Sharon A. Lavy on February 13, 2009 at 4:10 PM

    >Rachelle, since I started following your blog I cannot get anything done for all the posts.

    You are quite the popular lady.

    God Bless~~

  32. Rebecca LuElla Miller on February 13, 2009 at 4:01 PM

    >Rachelle, why is it that I feel so compelled to answer when you ask questions? LOL

    First, I agree with those who suggest you’re receiving an increased number of queries because of … you! What with your fairly recent mentions in Writer’s Digest and all, you are becoming known. And your blog definitely creates a friendly, approachable atmosphere. All good things, so I think it was just a matter of time.

    As to the economy’s effects? J. Mayhew said much of what is true for me.

    I’m also cutting back from writers’ conferences though, and looking to other writing/editing avenues besides novel writing in order to pay bills.

    The thing I find to be true is that now I don’t have a regular salary to depend on, I’m much more conscious of God’s constant and abiding care. It’s a good place to be.


  33. Marla Taviano on February 13, 2009 at 3:48 PM

    >What a great discussion!

  34. DCS on February 13, 2009 at 3:19 PM

    >The economy is responsible for adding a few more years to my projected retirement date, at which time I can get really busy writing.
    I think you are getting more queries because you are a visible and likeable presence on the Web and writers want the chance to have a working relationship with you.

  35. Marilyn Peake on February 13, 2009 at 2:39 PM

    >”How has the economy affected your writing career, or pursuit thereof?”

    I’m using this time to try to craft the best novel I can write, rather than trying to rush it out the door for possible publication. I’ve written 180 pages of a new science fiction novel, and am enjoying the lack of pressure to hurry with this one.

  36. Rachelle on February 13, 2009 at 2:15 PM

    >A couple of you have asked some important questions that I’ll be addressing on the blog soon. But I’ll briefly answer a couple of them now…

    What’s your take on the lack of response from agents? Does no reply mean “no” forever or are they just waiting for the economy to improve, like the rest of us?

    Do you send rejections or are you the strong silent type? Just wondering if I should be awaiting a response.

    Here’s my take on this, keeping in mind each agent may have a different answer: I prefer to respond to all queries, but I’m seeing a time in the future when it may not be possible. However, if we ever decide on a policy of responding only if we’re interested, then we will specify in our submission guidelines exactly how long you have to wait before assuming it’s a “no.”

    In this difficult economy, agents are having to work harder than ever to sell anything to publishers. This means we have less time for non-revenue activities, including sending “pass” letters to the hundreds of people who query us every month. There is only so much time in a day, and the more time I spend saying no, the less time I have for the projects I’m saying yes to. It doesn’t make business sense. In a more favorable economy, the decisions aren’t quite as tough. But right now, we are working our tails off to find projects publishers will buy and it doesn’t leave a lot of extra time.

    If you are not hearing back from agents, I think it’s because they are too swamped. I’m in that category. I still have queries from November I haven’t responded to. (Mea culpa.)

    Everyone always says “why don’t you hire an assistant to do that?” and we DO have an assistant. But how much sense does it make to pay her to say “no” to people all day? We need her to help us serve our clients.

    Hope that helps.

  37. Rachel Dawn Allen on February 13, 2009 at 2:04 PM

    >I believe it definitely has to do with the economy. I know I’m hitting the job boards a little more often, even checking out Craig’s List every now and then, which I haven’t done since I first took the freelance leap.

    In addition to financial concerns though, I think many people are just dissatisfied with their lives and want to change their situations. Money may have a lot to do with it, but our society in general has such a fleeting attention span. We want more, we want different. I think people see the published author’s life as a permanent vacation. You know, living in a cabin, drinking coffee, wearing sweaters. To many, being published is a lifestyle, the ideal work-from-home scenar

  38. T. Anne on February 13, 2009 at 1:59 PM

    >This curious spike in queries seems to be topic of several agent blogs as of late. I guess maybe people put off queries from Thanksgiving till after New Years. I even thought I would wait till Jan or Feb, which I did. Maybe there are a lot of like minded people out there?

    As for the economy, if anything it’s painting a dismal picture for the publishing industry. I’m looking for the Lord to provide, not my books. I heard once that if you were a writer, money was poison at the bottom of the well and not to go there for influence.

    OT: Rachelle, do you send rejections or are you the strong silent type? Just wondering if I should be awaiting a response 😉

  39. Basil Sands on February 13, 2009 at 1:45 PM

    >As a guy whose been writing for several years and thus far unsuccessful in getting traditionally published I guess that just means the queue just got a little longer. But the good will still float to the top in time.

  40. Timothy Fish on February 13, 2009 at 1:38 PM

    >I believe the people Mike spoke with are dead on. As for how the economy is effecting my writing, what writing? Is it called writing when the only reason you go home is because the company won’t let you watch American Idol at work?

  41. Anonymous on February 13, 2009 at 1:15 PM

    >Yes, I’ve seen a definite slow-down in terms of query responses, or rather, lack of response. I’ve published in nat’l mags for years and used to get same-day requests for partials and fulls. Now I don’t even get any response at all–if I do, it’s often a form rejection.

    Luckily, I still have a few partials and a full under consideration but maybe they’re just not interested or too panicked or busy to bother.
    Even my status queries go unanswered. What’s your take on the lack of response from agents? Does no reply mean “no” forever or are they just waiting for the economy to improve, like the rest of us? Thanks!

  42. Cross Campus Ministry on February 13, 2009 at 12:52 PM

    >Could it be that you are getting more inquiries because of you blog? It would seem that less experienced authors would be drawn to a literary agents blog since they do not have the resources to go to writers conferences and such.
    I dont know just an idea

  43. Devin on February 13, 2009 at 12:50 PM

    >Rachelle, I think you are exactly right! Plus you are becoming better known through your blog and links from other blogs.

  44. Carol on February 13, 2009 at 12:48 PM

    >I think that with the downturn in the economy more people are hoping to hit the writing jackpot, thinking anyone can write a book and make millions. Easy access to computers helps; I would never attempt to write a novel if I had to use a typewriter.

    As for why your queries are increasing, I agree with those who say it’s because you are becoming better known, and you offer encouragement to people even as you are telling us we probably won’t make the cut.

    My life hasn’t been significantly affected by the economy yet, so I’m still just plugging away until I feel my novel is ready to submit.

  45. Kristina on February 13, 2009 at 12:16 PM

    >So far, the economy hasn’t affected my writing. My steady gig (writing web content) should be secure through 2009 and a publisher I’ve worked with repeatedly over the years is still interested in new projects. However, I am trying to break into two new areas of writing. I have a memoir I hope to see published, and I’m working on a novel. (All my previous books are nonfiction.) It does seem bad timing…but I’m trusting in the Lord. I really feel pulled in the direction I’m taking.

  46. Megs on February 13, 2009 at 11:18 AM

    >The economy has definitely made a lot of people tense, but I don’t know if it would drive them to start writing if they weren’t already into it.

    I tend to think that you do have a little American Idol syndrome going on because of people like Meyer, JK Rowling, and the kid who wrote Eragon (whose name I can’t think of atm).

    Personally speaking – I always thought that only a certain class of enlighted people can make it as writers. That all changed when I found out that one of my coworkers was a twice published writer who bought her house with her royalties and was still getting checks in the mail while she worked on the third novel.

    Maybe other people got the same revelation when the three authors I mentioned above came on the scene from humble and normal beginnings?

    I also think that more people have more time to write when they’ve been laid off work.

    Also, you have more moms who want to stay home and be with their kids, but also want to help their hubbies pay the bills.

    And also – the kids that read and obsessed about all the HP books and Twilight etc… are now writing their own books. Avid reading leads to writing.

    Like I said – it’s a bunch of things. 🙂

    Rachelle – I absolutely love your American Idol analogies. I’ve noticed the similarity too.

  47. Lea Ann McCombs on February 13, 2009 at 11:05 AM

    >It’s all pretty much been said in all the good comments above, but I think it may come down to what you keep saying…too many people see writing as an “easy, fun” job that almost anyone can do with a little practice.

    I’ll bet the queries are not coming from writers who’ve been reading all your blog entries for the past year, studying other writer’s/agent’s blogs, attending conferences, and basically…doing their homework. And I’ll bet you can tell by the second sentence of the query.

    With the internet giving everyone so much access to free information, new ideas and new worlds open up for people who may never have considrered a career change until they stumble on to an intriguing idea.

    Don’t feel bad that you have to say no to those who are pleading with you, if their work is not good enough. Chances are they haven’t “paid their dues” yet and the reading public doesn’t care how desperate a writer is.

    You may be the softest place to fall. You’re doing them an immense favor and if they have a true drive to succeed, they’ll be back.

  48. Karen Witemeyer on February 13, 2009 at 10:34 AM

    >I started my writing journey 5 years ago when my husband learned he was losing his job. I had always thought about trying my hand at it, but as a stay-at-home mom with 3 kids under the age of 5, I had no plans to make that dream a reality. Then came word that my husband was losing his job in 6 months. I suddenly found motivation.

    Of course I had a long way to go to develop my craft, and both my husband and I found new full-time work thanks to God’s blessings. But because of that shot in the arm, the writing urge stuck, and I’ve continued with it. I’ve published several short pieces, won conests with my novels, and currently have a deal in the works with a major publisher.

    Maybe this economy will do the same for someone else. Sometimes we just need a swift kick in the pants to get rid of all the excuses and procrastination we’ve held onto for so long.

  49. Chatty Kelly on February 13, 2009 at 10:24 AM

    >All the published writers I’ve talked to say it has to be your passion because you usually don’t make much money at it, so I can’t imagine all these people are looking to get rich. Plus with the numbers game, like American Idol, millions try out, 1 gets the title.

    Personally I’m writing because I finally found a ‘hobby’ I can be passionate about and really enjoy. I’m mildly successful in my first year of writing(several published articles, and just got a contract to be a contributing author in a “chicken soup” style book). I’ve made a total of $183. Luckily that is way more than I make as a stay-home mom. LOL!

  50. Julie Gillies on February 13, 2009 at 10:08 AM

    >It’s probably two-fold, Rachelle.
    (1) I’ve noticed you have more followers nearly every time I visit. You write in a friendly, approachable style so people are willing to reach out to you, whether they’re ready or not. And
    (2) with so many people out of work, they now have time to query and submit.

    The affects of the economy on my writing? I’ve just signed on with a high-paying Christian magazine (online) who keeps the copyright to my articles as long as they’re in business. Since I’m writing mainly Op-Ed’s I don’t have a problem with it, though I’m being cautious. I pray every time they send me an assignment and am uncertain how long I’ll continue. But good money for steady writing work is hard to turn down.

    I’m still working on a (nonfiction) book proposal as well. If that succeeds, I’ll step back and reconsider.

  51. Anne L.B. on February 13, 2009 at 10:02 AM

    >Rachelle, your comments also seem to be way higher than what I remember from past months, so some of the increase, for you, is certainly due to becoming better known. I suppose it gives you more … “unsuitable” material to weed through (as yesterday’s post attests), significantly increasing your workload and response time. I hope it also gives you more diamonds in the rough (or not so rough) to advance your own career.

    The economy has made me take a harder look at how far I’d go to become a financial success at writing. But I’m a pragmatist as well as an artist. In the sciences, one works to make a living. In the arts, true artists live for one’s work. Whether painters, musicians, or writers, the title “starving artist” will always apply to those driven to quiet the soul before they silence the hunger pangs.

  52. Krista Phillips on February 13, 2009 at 9:58 AM

    >Ack! Just as I hit send, I had another though (sorry!)

    Several have mentioned that the economy has led them to not go to conferences as usual, or enter contests etc. We’ve all been preached at that conferences are the WAY to meet agents and Editors, much better than querying unsolicited manuscripts.

    Could it be, now that there isn’t the funds to go to writer’s conferences, that people are getting *old fashioned* and sending more queries?

  53. Krista Phillips on February 13, 2009 at 9:56 AM

    >I agree with Michael’s comment. I think there are many people out there who always wanted to write but didn’t have time. Now they are unemployed and seizing the opportunity until their severance (if they were lucky) goes dry. There’s an air of desperation I think. Even ‘writers’ who have been selling articles or have been more dabbling may see selling that big book as their way of making up lost income.

    Personally, the economy has no effect on my writing. I am still employed at a good job-albeit non-writing related (we have a wage freeze but no cuts thank God!) and my husband works part-time and takes care of kiddos at home while I work. I squeeze my writing in (thank God I’m a fast typer!). My goal is to someday switch spots with my husband, so he can go back to work and I can stay home and write books. Maybe the economy delays my goals a bit, but God is bigger than this and I plan to trust in him, not a stimulus package:-)

  54. lynnrush on February 13, 2009 at 9:48 AM

    >Yeah, I suppose the economy has forced me to choose more selectively what I can buy toward learning the craft. And the contests (number of them) I can enter.

    But, I continue to write and write. That’s free (until you start printing things out–LOL). But, it’s a great way to pass the time. Like reading, writing allows me to get lost for a few hours in the lives of my characters. I love it.

    Reason for query increases? Might it be that everyone hopes to be the next Stephanie Meyer? Twilight was her debut novel, right?

  55. Mark H. on February 13, 2009 at 9:40 AM

    >I think the economy has made me pull back a bit from pursuing writing for now–I need to concentrate on the job that pays…and be thankful that I have one!

    As far as traveling to conferences, etc…probably not a realistic goal this year. I wonder if you’ll be seeing an increase in electronic queries and a decrease in conference attendance?

  56. Rowenna on February 13, 2009 at 9:36 AM

    >The economy definitely affected my writing, though in a practical, rather than motivational, sense. My hours got cut at my 9-5, which gave a boost to the time I spend writing. I wonder if quite a few writers are finishing more projects more quickly because of layoffs or decreased hours. Maybe there’s a silver lining in the crummy economy cloud for a few writers.

  57. Kat Harris on February 13, 2009 at 9:23 AM

    >The economy hasn’t had any impact on impact on my writing career.

    Although, I feel incredibly lucky to be employed by a privately owned newspaper instead of a corporation. The corporations don’t seem to be doing so well right now.

    I don’t have a clue why your inbox would be flooded with unprepared writers.

    But if people are really sending you queries because they think they’re going to get rich writing, they need a reality check.

    How many books are on the shelves at the book store? How many of those authors are household names?
    How many of those authors that aren’t household names have multiple books out there already?

    Not to discourage anyone, but a writer’s chance of making it big on their debut novel is about as likely as George Bush becoming the leader of Iran.

    (Well, okay, maybe the odds are a little better than that.)

    All I’m sayin’ is money shouldn’t be a writer’s motivation. Writers should write because they love writing.

    Have a great day, Rachelle!

  58. crt on February 13, 2009 at 9:06 AM

    >[i]”Well somebody told us Wall Street fell But we were so poor that we couldn’t tell.”[/i] – [b]Alabama[/b]

    That’s about how much the weak economy has affected me and my writing.

  59. Dara on February 13, 2009 at 9:05 AM

    >The economy isn’t affecting how I’m writing my novel; I’m still working on it like I was back in college when the economy was good.

    I do know that I am feeling the affects of a poor economy in my job as a real estate secretary. I’ve pretty much been told I won’t be getting a raise until “the market improves” which could be years from now.

    I think an increase in queries could be that many writers are beginning to panic and thinking that the publishing industry won’t last (at least in the way that they’re used to). It could also be that there are more who are unemployed, so they have more time to devote to writing their novel.

    It could also simply be that you’ve become quite popular.

    There are many variables, but there’s a likelihood that it’s a combination of factors.

  60. sherrinda on February 13, 2009 at 8:53 AM

    >I have always wanted to write a novel, to be able to produce something that brings me so much joy. But with a large family and being a minister’s wife, life just got in the way. Since my husband and I started a church a couple of years ago, finances have been extremely tight and I decided to give my dream a try, thinking maybe someday it could provide some extra money. (I know, it is a longshot, but hey…it’s worth a try)

    I would think many would be novelists are giving it a go, trying to make ends meet, putting pen to paper and dreaming of making it big, freeing them from the stress of daily living. I don’t know…you could be just really, really popular! 🙂

  61. David A. Todd on February 13, 2009 at 8:39 AM

    >Yes, the economy is affecting my pursuit of a writing career. On January 30th I survived a corporate layoff–the fourth our firm has had since Nov 2006, and the seventh time in my working career. But, I keep my job with a second 10 percent pay cut. That’s now cutting pretty deep.

    I’m not going to the ACW conference in Oklahoma City next weekend as I originally planned to. Too much money for a two day conference with few agents and editors; way over priced. Some personal issues are a secondary cause of that decision. My going to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in May is now very iffy. I went last year, my wife accompanying me, and that cost us all of our stimulus check from the US government. This year, the only way I will be able to justify the expense, with so little prospect of a return, is if my income tax refunds are very good sized.

    Even then, that may not be enough. My pick-up need $1,200 of repairs in addition to the $320 I spent this week, to be expected when a vehicle nears 150,000 miles.

    So, spend mega-bucks to pursue what I have so little chance of succeeding in, even if I’m very good at it? Maybe in a good economy, but in this? Not likely.

  62. J. Mayhew on February 13, 2009 at 8:37 AM

    >wow, that must be incredibly tough…i’m the same way, it breaks my heart to hear stories like that.

    the economy was still relatively strong when i made the decision to leave my daytime job and pursue a writing career. so for me, that hasn’t been an issue–as much as I’d love to send out queries today, I want the book to be as perfect as I can make it before it hits your desk.

    As to why the queries are increasing… I truly don’t know. Maybe people feel like it’s a now or never time to follow their dreams and then maybe–just maybe–that dream could help pay rent/tuition/etc? For me it’s just always been a dream….give me a few more months and I’ll be sending something your way 🙂

  63. Yvonne on February 13, 2009 at 8:11 AM

    >Your reasoning for the increase of queries makes sense. Who knows? It may bring out some real treasures.

    For me, the drop in the economy means that there is less chance for me to be able to attend writing conferences or workshops. I will always be able to write, but to be connected to the publishing world could get harder. I’m grateful that I can do most of my work over the computer. If that fails…

  64. Sharon A. Lavy on February 13, 2009 at 7:59 AM

    >I don’t know why you are getting more submissions, except I am sure the longer you are in this business the bigger your inbox will need to be.

    Your blog makes you seem approachable.

    My wish for you today is that you find a real gem in the day’s offerings.

  65. Michael S. Hyatt on February 13, 2009 at 7:57 AM

    >I was on a CEO panel Wednesday at the O’Reilly “Tools of Change” Conference in New York City with the CEO from and, both self-publishing sites. They said that their business has sky-rocketed, too. Their theory is that you have a lot of people who are unemployed now who have always thought about writing a book, but who could just never find the time. Now they have the time.

  66. GentleLavender on February 13, 2009 at 6:53 AM

    >I think I totally agree with Julie who says that she is more determined to make sure that there are no reasons for an editor to say no. That makes sense for sure.

    Also, I agree that when competition turns tougher, writers have to just pull up their pens and move up to a higher level.

    A question i have for Rachelle is that what is the publishing industry like in these difficult times? Can publishing companies afford to encourage new writers to come forward and break the market or would their focus be on the big, best selling names? How bad or difficult are the conditions within the publishing industry when it comes to newcomers?

  67. Rachel on February 13, 2009 at 6:12 AM

    >fueled. sorry.

  68. Rachel on February 13, 2009 at 6:11 AM

    >I bet you are right about people dusting off manuscripts from years gone by…

    Well, or else in their suffering and desperation, they’ve turbo-written them in the past couple of months. You can work really fast and hard when you are fuled by panic.

  69. Julie Weathers on February 13, 2009 at 5:06 AM

    >The economy only affects my writing in one respect. I am even more determined to remove any reasons for an agent or editor to say no. The scene that seems all right, but doesn’t sing learns to sing or gets to sit out the dance.

    When the competition gets tougher that just means you push to a higher level.

    Paladin will sell when the time is right and in the meantime, I keep writing. It isn’t a means to get rich, it’s who I am.


  70. Sue on February 13, 2009 at 3:54 AM

    >Could it partially be because your blog is becoming more popular, and as a result more writers are aware of you and are querying you?

    For me, the economy tanking just means I’m worried about keeping my PAID writing job (tech writer), so I feel like I can’t afford to waste much time on creative/fun writing. Bother.

  71. GentleLavender on February 13, 2009 at 2:29 AM

    >Well, Rachelle, I can understand how you must be feeling about so many queries pouring in and the compassion you feel towards those who seem so desperate for a break. However, I don’t think that those queries are pouring in maily due to Recession.

    I would like to believe that good writers genuinely value themselves and their concepts much more than to simply rush off their queries like that. I think there could be other factors that have brought this to a tipping point.