Professional Envy–You have to be happy for the other guy, even if it’s your dog

Jealousy–the green monster–envy–Thou Shall not covet

The warnings against envy and jealousy go back centuries and biblical scholars of every stripe include envy in the list of Seven Deadly Sins deep within all the holy texts. In more modern times, the movie Seven didn’t end too well for Gywenneth Paltrow’s character…(psst, her head’s in that box at the end) Too late for a spoiler alert?

Jealousy seems to be a common ailment in the writing community and it will drive you to drink (more) if you don’t develop an armadillo-like skin thickness for rejection, insecurity and self-doubt. Rejected, passed over and ignored–these are the writer’s best friends in the process. You have to be able to learn from them if you’re going to survive for any length of time.

What’s popular today won’t be the trending book topics two months from now. I’ve known writers who bemoan the fact that their literary masterpiece of despondent sparkly vampire noir isn’t getting the attention it deserves. It’s the publishing industry’s fault–they don’t know how to market it. Yet, that same writer will see others get a new contract and they’ll sit in the corner and slow burn. One bad review and this author wants to toss it all and go sort acorns in the forest, wearing nothing but a loincloth.

A Broken Author After Reading a Review
image by doug wild man via flickr creative commons

Some authors scour through Publishers Weekly to find out who’s getting a better book deal with bigger and better publishers than they have. The envy and jealousy is thick at times. Me, I’ll see some mention of a new book deal and I’ll be genuinely happy for the writer. I’ll reach out and say, “Good for you,” if I know them. Bottom line is they worked for it and good for them. Besides, more good books out there brings more readers to the bookstore.

I guess I share every author’s dream, a legit bestseller snapped up by a Big 5 Publisher. Instead of the mailbox full of rejection form letters and postcards (hell, even the mailman knows you’re failed writer) you look forward to that day when a thick envelope arrives in the mail with a contract from a Big 5 Publisher, like, say Harper-Collins.

And It happened. An envelope arrived from Harper-Collins–an honest to God big time, Big 5 Publisher! The publisher sent the package of promise to my local bookstore, Face In A Book. They knew I’ve held book launches at the bookstore. I felt like the Steve Martin character in The Jerk. “I am somebody.”

Then I looked at the envelope.

It was not addressed to me.

It was addressed to my dogs.

My dogs…

My first reaction was kinda like, “What the hell dogs? You go behind my back and try to get a better deal?” No cookies for you.

Then, I thought–Holy hell! I’m over here Harper-Collins! Hello! What about meeeee?

Actually, what Harper-Collins did was pretty cool. They follow the bookstore and the reading to the dogs program on Facebook. We do a monthly reading program at Face In A Book and Harper Collins sent us a dog-centric novel, Good Karma, by Christina Kelly and a Good Karma book bag. The book looks great and features a story about dogs and relationships.

So, as author it’s hard not to get jealous when your dogs get mail from a Big 5 Publisher and you don’t.

I have to accept that it’s a dog’s world and I just get to live in it. Maybe I’ll ask Tanner and Emma if they can put in a good word for me with their new friends at Harper-Collins.  I have cookies…


  1. DOROTHEA · · Reply

    your a great writer no matter what they saY!!!

    1. Awww…Thank you Dorothea!

  2. Delores · · Reply

    Cute story and perspective. The Big 5 are getting closer to home at least. Hang in there.

    1. I’ll send a dog to Get their nose under the tent…then I’m in!

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