"Is it bad if ________?": on "good" vs. "bad" advances, sales, editorial responses, and other publishing career developments inviting interpretation
Spoiler alert: if you think I'm going to reassure you that you're good or confirm that you're bad, you're going to find this post disappointing.
Before I get into today’s newsletter, a quick announcement:
Next week’s “Glow” will be a Q and A for paid subscribers, so send me your questions!
To be clear: anyone can ask a question; it’s just that you’ll have to be a paid subscriber to read the answers. Muahahahaha.
It’s that time again. If you’d like to ask me or my colleagues at Neon something, please send your question to email@example.com with the subject “Glow question” no later than May 5, a week from today. We will answer as many as we can and in as much detail as we can.
Now onto the main topic for today.
Several authors a day (a day) ask me some permutation on the question, “is it bad….?”
Perhaps you can relate.
Is it bad if I haven’t earned out my advance?
Is it bad that more editors haven’t replied to my submission?
Is it bad that I’m feeling so anxious, even though we just accepted an awesome offer?
Is it bad that all of this is taking so long?
Is it bad if this newspaper wants to do a brief feature on my book, but they’ve declined to give it a substantive review?
Is it bad that this reviewer used only tepid adjectives to praise my book?
Is it bad that I “only” got a four or five-figure advance?
Is it bad that I’ve sold fewer than x copies?
And so on.
At this point in my career, I have heard so many different authors ask so many different versions of the “is it bad” question that I now believe a kind of Rule 34 principle applies to it: if something exists, some author somewhere is wondering if it is bad.
Good news: today, I am going to answer your “is it bad” questions once and for all. ALL OF THEM. Every possible permutation I will answer, starting with the eight specific permutations above. Here in order are my responses: