Wednesday, November 09, 2005

An Agent's View: Slumps

Michelle Grajkowski of Three Seas Literary Agency talks about the dreaded slump.

Slumps. The pros have 'em. Politicians have 'em. Musicians have 'em. And, yes, even authors have 'em.

One slump that I'm particularly feeling this year is my beloved Green Bay Packers. At 1-7 their season is pretty much defunct. While the coaches should be planning playoff strategies, they are instead scratching their heads wondering if Brett Favre is going to return to the struggling team next year. And, Brett, if you are reading this, I'm begging you to come back.

One of my idols in the music industry is Toby Keith. Early on in his career, his record label tried to stifle his craft. They thought the blockbuster hit "How Do You Like Me Now" would be a flop and that the listeners wouldn't get it. So, a fed-up Toby left his label and tried to find a new home. It was a long, hard haul, but Toby persevered and is now one of the top male artists of all time.

So, what do Brett Favre and Toby Keith have in common?

Number one, they never give up. No matter how hard the road looks ahead, they push on and don't lose site of their goal - to be best of the best.

Number two, they are risk takers. Many of Keith's songs have a not-so-politically-correct feel to them. But, the sarcasm shines through and men and women alike are drawn to his humorous tone. Favre, on the other hand, has been compared to a loose cannon. His "get-it-done-at-all-costs" attitude has made even the strongest Packer fan cringe. But, somehow, someway he always comes out on top of his game. Even if the record doesn't reflect it, he's still beating records every game.

Finally, they love what they do. Both know that it's impossible to stay on top forever, but they will do everything in their power to stay up as long as they can. Every Sunday when Favre hits the field, it looks like it's his first day out. He plays his heart out and never surrenders.

Are you a never-say-die writer? Do you write because the stories in you are busting at their seams to come out? Every time you sit down at the keyboard, do you have that same enthusiasm as you did when you wrote your first words? Are you giving it 100%?

It's an unfortunate fact that many authors find themselves in a slump sometime in their career. Breaking into the industry is a hard enough task, but sometimes even the most established authors find themselves struggling to make that next sale.

Just like Favre on a game day, it's vital to have a gameplan to help you through the slumps. He wouldn't dream of walking onto the field not knowing what play to call, and when to call it. As an author, you need to map out where you are, where you want to be and how you plan to get there. With the help of your agent, you can come up with a workable plan.

But, execution is the key to success. The easy part is sitting down and plotting. The hardest thing is executing your plan. Do you think if Favre went onto the field with his head hung low and a ho-hum effort that his team would give it their all? Of course not. Instead, he greats his team with optimism and excitement.

If you ever find yourself in a slump, don't be afraid to throw that pass that others may second-guess, or to sing that song that people think will never work. Be your own person. Be strong, be tough and never give up.


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