Always remember, even though the sun is shining and the chickadees are singing, Everything Can Still Go Wrong.
This is a writer’s mantra.
I was reminded of this recently when, amid drafting and cover art discussions and title changing, I received an email that my editor was leaving.
As in LEAVING.
As in FOREVER.
Remember the thousands — millions — of rejection letters you received? Remember that one mean editor who literally questioned your fundamental grasp of the English language (true story)? And remember how, at long last, your fabulous agent (who was NOT the one who contacted the editor in the last sentence) connected you with a fabulous editor who loved your work? Who championed your story in her own house and the scary world outside? Who felt the same way you did about most things?
What happens now????
If you’re me, your brain explodes all over your agent’s inbox. What will happen to my book? Are they still going to publish it? Do I still get paid? Do I have to start from square one with revisions? Do I have to sign a different contract? What about my second book? Do they still want it? Who’s editing it? Can you call me? Can you bake me cookies and bring them over? Should I be baking cookies and bringing them down to the publisher? WHY ARE THESE CATS CONSTANTLY JUDGING ME?
Luckily, internet friends, I have lived to tell the tale, and here’s what I have learned.
1. This happens a lot. It takes a long time to get a book from contract to launch. During that time, people can move from company to company, get promoted, burn out, change fields, or get abducted by aliens. It’s not your fault. It is VERY RARE that an editor leaves publishing altogether simply because your book was so terrible it caused him to despise humanity and head for the Yukon to live as a big-horn sheep.
2. If your editor loves you (she does), she will try her hardest to leave your book with someone who will champion it as much as she did.
3. If your agent loves you (she does), upon receipt of your brain explosions in her inbox, she will call you and calmly talk you through What Happens Next, which is probably pretty similar to What Was Going to Happen Before.
4. Do not listen to your cats. (This is also just a good rule of thumb.)
Also, if you’re going to panic, consider watching A TOWN CALLED PANIC instead of actually panicking.