The Upside of NOT Having A Book Deal (Yet)

Last week, Kacey wrote about the bennies of friends with book deals, which I truly appreciated, needed to read, and happen to agree with wholeheartedly.

However, it was a far more positive perspective than what goes on inside my mind when I read on social media about folks I know getting book deals.

Before you tsk, tsk me, hear me out: As an emerging psychotherapist, I’ve done extensive research and study on the human psyche and can reassure all of you that to be envious is to be human. According to the DSM, envy is not pathological.

But before I wax psychotherapist, let me discuss my (irrational, envy-filled) take on the whole-friends-with-book-deals.

First, I must take you back to when I was fifteen…Things in my life always stem from when I was fifteen. It was a painfully awkward time for me­; I was chubby, had crooked bangs, and longed for boys who didn’t like either of those traits. Pretty sure I went a little emo for a while (before emo was a thing). Think I wore bright green eyeshadow, too. Think I might have worn combat boots with pajamas a few times. But I digress…

When I was a fifteen, I envied girls with flat stomachs, hot boyfriends, and perfect grades.

At thirty-nine, I’m very content with my body, my man, and my grades (seriously, yes, I’m still in school for, yet, another degree). Instead, I envy girls (and boys) with hot, sexy book deals.

My jealousy is totally sophomore year—always the girl, who, on the outside, seemed quite apathetic about being regular, average, not cool. But deep down, I wanted it all. I wanted to be Homecoming Queen. I wanted to sport crop tops with flat abs peeking out. I wanted to make out with the captain of the football team under the bleachers. But alas, those boys always chose the prettier, skinnier, and smarter girls.

So when my writer-friends get book deals, I definitely turn into fifteen-year-old me, and writer-friend becomes “the other girl” and the book deal becomes “the boy I want and cannot get”.

And like a jealous-psycho-teenage girl, I stalk the other person’s FB page and Twitter feed for evidence of why they got the deal (the boy) and I didn’t. I know, I know. Believe me, I don’t like to admit this. The thing is, I can’t find evidence (I mean, really, it doesn’t even make sense!), but when you want to find evidence, you will go so far as to invent it. So in my stalking, if the person who got the deal writes in a particular genre, then I tell myself, “So easy to get a book deal when you write in that genre.” Or, if it’s a book that’s similar to my own writing in style or theme, I say, “My work is just as good as theirs! What the eff! Life is SOOO unfair!” Sometimes I will evaluate the publisher, and if it’s a small one, I reassure myself that means it’s not a big deal.

Total teenage girl. Total bratty, snarky teenage girl.

But instead of indulging in her—my inner fifteen-year-old self—I turn to a more grown-up approach. A shift in perspective. One that embraces the idea that another person’s success is not a mark against my own. That there is room for us all.

So instead of comparing, judging, evaluating, and being a snarky brat, I do the following:

The Upside of Not Having a Book Deal:

  1. I have the time to pursue my other passion. Becoming a psychotherapist.
  2. This is actually related to number 1—thank God I’m becoming a psychotherapist because the only thing in my life that drives me to therapy is being a writer.
  3. I don’t have to leave my family and go to on book tours or conferences.
  4. I don’t have the pressure from a publisher to meet a deadline.
  5. I can design my own book covers, edit my books the way I want, and create my own literary anthology that features other emerging writer-folks.
  6. NOBODY owns my work but me!
  7. I have time to write this blog, and in this blog I can say whatever I want (see number 6).
  8. I’ve worked long and hard on my craft and as a seasoned human being who did get a book deal in her twenties or thirties (unless it happens in exactly five weeks), I will be truly ready for it when it comes, and I know it will come.

And now, I will wax psychotherapist: Also part of the human cognition and not named in the DSM as pathological: Comparison Bias: when we seek out information to confirm our own interpretation of a situation or event.

The key to all this is awareness…or as we say in the psycho-therapy biz, mindfullness.

Namaste, writer-friends.


2 Comments on “The Upside of NOT Having A Book Deal (Yet)

  1. As a psych nurse, I totally get it! And am grateful that something other than my writing is available to pay the bills!!


  2. I think we can drive ourselves crazy by holding our image up against the images of others, regardless of what those reflections are meant to show. Thanks for this reminder.


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