The Green-Eyed Monster

Posted on Tue, Jul 11 2017 9:00 am by Dawn Frederick


In today’s publishing climate, it’s common to find one in a phase of communicating ALL the time. From our emails to social media, it’s easy to see who is doing what…specifically the successes of other writers. It’s at this point that you develop your thick rhino skin, ensuring the green-eyed monster doesn’t make a house call.

I still remember the days pre-Internet, when publishing info was learned via a combo of phone calls, meetings, conferences, bookstores, and our physical agency directories that reflected the successes of the writers, publishers, and agents in our industry. The information was all contained, but required an effort to obtain as well.

Nowadays with a simple click in Publishers Marketplace, Publishers Weekly, and/or a quick Google search, you can see basically the same information, but at a larger volume and all at one time. By this time, well-intended research can easily lead to some stress for a writer who may feel inklings of doubt or anxiety. What’s missing in this clump of info is all the work behind the scenes, behind an electronic smoke screen.

It’s natural to want to feel validated as a writer. If you are seeking publication, it’s assumed you’d like someone to like your writing. Preferably many “someones” who will buy your book someday. That validation is still very tangible, and I promise you CAN reach this goal if you ignore that pest, the green-eyed monster.

The first step is to realize we all have similar ideas. There will always be similar themes, tropes, and storylines. However, the story that you tell should be YOUR story—the narrative should be yours. What will distinguish yours from the others is the narrative that’s brought to the page. Writers define the stories; the topics do not define the writers.

This is also my reminder that all of us are in this together. The green-eyed monster will try to tell you that other writers will steal your readers. How wrong this monster is! People who read books will read more than one book, and as we all know, writers are readers too. Never forget that. Readers will generally read more than one book in a category, more than one book in their lifetimes. There’s an audience, so ensure your book is the best it can be while encouraging (and supporting) other writers along the way.

The easiest way to push this green-eyed monster back into the corner where it belongs is to give back to your writing community. Celebrate others’ successes as you hope they’ll do for you. Buy each others’ books. Attend fellow writers’ book events, and even buddy up for a few readings too.

One of the biggest reasons I love my job is the HEART that writers bring to the table. I’m already a hugger (you’ve been warned), as I love to hug my authors and publishing friends. But part of that reason is because this industry has so many people who love words, good stories, and who bring a sense of community. This is the recipe for a green-eyed monster-free zone.

Dawn Michelle Frederick is the owner & literary agent of Red Sofa Literary, established in 2008. Red Sofa Literary is a celebration of the quirky, eclectic ideas in our publishing community. Dawn’s previous experience reflects a broad knowledge of the book business, with over a decade of experience as a bookseller in the independent, chain, and specialty stores, an editor for a YA publisher, and an associate literary agent at Sebastian Literary Agency. Dawn earned a BS in Human Ecology and a MS in Library & Information Sciences from an ALA-accredited institution. She is also one of the founders of the MN Publishing Tweet Up, which brings writers and publishers together over a monthly happy hour. Red Sofa Literary was voted as one of the Best 101 Websites by Writer’s Digest in 2012 and 2013.