Honorary Heartlette – Elaine Spencer, Part II

December 4, 2007 at 11:17 pm | Posted in agents/ editors, Elaine Spencer, Honorary Heartlette, writing | 12 Comments

I’m sorry that I’m running a little bit behind today, and this post is going to be a late one, but let me tell you it has just been one of those days! It all started out with these awful power surges that we have been having at the office. It’s been a nuisance but we’ve been dealing with it. That was until yesterday when I opened the refrigerator in the kitchen and suddenly the power strip in my office started smoking. No, these are not even on the same fuse, and no, I’m not kidding. It appears that the light turning on in the fridge was just too much power, can you say fire hazard!? Anyways, we got the electrician to come out today and it turns out a dang squirrel has chewed into our lines causing interrupted power flow and surges. Sigh. So the power company comes out and gets us all patched up. Then what do you know, to add to the fun we find out that the power surge blew our internet router. So no power, no internet, put this on top of a giant release day, two agents heading away on business for the rest of the week, and a big project I’m trying to get out for a client. CHAOS!! Anyways, I think we are squared away and I can finally take a moment to get back to my list making J and yes, with all of the aforementioned chaos, my compulsive list-making has been in full effect this week on many different levels!

 Ok. So, where was I . . . On Sunday I talked about the things that I think we all need to hear over and over again. The things that never tire, grow old, or change. Today I’m going to talk about more things that we all surely know, but that sometimes become a bit less obvious. The things that are easy to forget. The things that are easy to lose sight of during the journey.

 The first thing that I think we all need to be reminded about is the power of reading in the market. Reading can never be underestimated and being too busy is never an excuse.

 This year I really made a valiant attempt to get back into reading for pleasure. For some time I had put it aside because I just didn’t know how to manage if I was going to pick from the personal or the professional pile. 

I had my “slap myself on the forehead” moment in the opening weeks of 2007. I was on a plane heading home from a business trip to NYC. I hadn’t taken my computer (a BIG rarity) and so all I had to keep me busy were 4 books that had been given to me by editors. They all happened to be middle grade books, short, easy reads. Before I knew it, and the day was over I had finished 3 books. Whew, what a breath of fresh air. When I crawled into bed that night I felt so empowered and on top of my game.

I hear so many people say “I just don’t have the time to read for pleasure”. IMHO, that’s a cop-out. Yes, there are many instances late at night when I am curled up with a good book and I probably could be reading a submission that I have in my inbox. However, if I would follow that guilty little pang I can guarantee that two things are going to happen, neither of which are good. One, I’m going to be bitter that I’m still reading for work and I’m going to take it out on the submission in my hand. Two, I’m going to get burnt out, fast and find that I’m not enjoying ANYTHING I read, regardless of how good it is.

Here’s the thing. Reading off of the shelves is refreshing. It reminds us why we do what we do. It reminds us the power a good book holds. It also reminds serves as an educational tool so we have a clue what is working and what isn’t. It gives us a clear and accurate depiction of what is selling and what editors are buying. If I hear a ton of buzz about a book, you better believe I am going to pick it up to see what all the talk is about. It serves in all of our best interest to see what’s working and try to build off of it.

And one more thing to think about on this topic, if as individuals within this profession we stop and say “I don’t have the time to read” then how in the heck do we expect this industry to go on. Every week someone is talking about the decline in book sales. It’s our job to proactively go out there and do whatever it takes to get people excited about the books we are writing and selling. If you haven’t read a good book lately, stop reading this blog right now and go spend your time reading a great story instead!   

For those of you that are on point with me about the reading thing, I’m going to break from my ‘information’ list and bring you a separate list. If you all will let me continue to ramble I thought I would share a few of the best books I have read this year. And let me tell you, I’ve read some AMAZING books; it’s been a good year in publishing!

Hands down my favorite book of the year was The Kommandants Girl by Pam Jenoff. This title was referred to me by someone at Harlequin and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the read. I can’t wait for her next title in 08’. It was a Golden Quill nominee too, so its not just me that thinks it’s awesome!

My favorite adult series was JR Ward’s BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD. I jumped on the band wagon late, but let me tell you, I’m on for good now. My favorite YA series was Stephenie Meyer’s TWILIGHT. I wasn’t quite as in love with Eclipse as the earlier two, but still she has a great thing going. I know both of those series are talked about EVERYWHERE, but seriously, those two women have done some amazing things with their characters, world building and emotional content. And wrapping back to my point above, I heard the buzz and I wanted to be in on what everyone was talking about.

 And then there are the stand alones that just stood out to me. As you’ll see I read across the board. Kristin Hannah’s MAGIC HOUR, Allison van Diepen’s SNITCH, Steven James THE PAWN, Jodi Picoult’s NINETEEN MINUTES, Samantha Graves’ SIGHT UNSEEN, Sohia Nash’s A DANGEROUS BEAUTY, Rachel Vincent’s STRAY, Gena Showalter’s RED HANDED oh and the list could go on . . . but I’ll stop and get back to something more interesting to you all.

 There is one other big thing that I want to talk about in this post, (and then I’ll wrap it up as its getting late and I’m dying to catch the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show!) and that is a friendly little reminder that small acts of kindness will come back around ten-fold.

Of course this is something that I could have put in the last post; it’s another of those things that we of course all know and something that you can never hear too often. However I’m putting it in here because it is something that is SO easy to forget. It is so very easy to forget especially during this period of the year when we are all So Very busy with our own lives and agendas and plans.

I challenge each of you to stop and think about the small things that make a big difference. I know that I am blessed almost daily in this business with a caring gesture by a co-worker, a client or other associate. I was reading the post that was put up yesterday on this very blog about the things that we all have to be thankful for. I think we should be thankful to be a part of this business that is so overflowing with kindness.

I hear so many of my peers talking about their jobs and the dog-eat-dog environment they are surrounded by each day. I love that I have nothing to contribute to these conversations. Remember every action that you take should be one to combat those negative vibes.

 Often times I become overwhelmed with my inbox. I see the emails pouring in and I just can’t quite comprehend how I am going to manage to reply to each email with compassion and energy. It is very easy for me to just skim through my messages and only reply to those that demand my attention. However I’m not a grinch and I avoid that path of action. You know what, it pays. I can’t tell you the friends I have made and the rewards that have poured back my way for taking the time to remember that a person is at the receiving end of each email. I am so rewarded by just the simple “thank-yous” I receive for the things that I do as just a second nature.

 Long story short. Don’t take anything for granted. You are in a very unique and fortunate situation that a very small gesture can make a very large difference in someone else’s life and career!

Thanks for checking back and I look forward to closing out my list on Thursday. I’ve got a few more things to list off, those that you may not have previously thought about but can make a big difference as you move towards 2008! Have a lovely evening! 



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  1. Elaine, I’ve devoured both your posts. They are great and full of tips we all already know and yet (perhaps even because of that) are so often forgotten.

    Thank you for your bits of wisdom, that I am sure, will be useful to so many. And that includes me!

    Oh and thank you for the suggested book list…I’ll have to check out some of those books!


  2. Elaine, I’m so sorry to hear about all the problems you had today, but glad to know they weren’t worse. I’m so glad I checked back on the blog before heading for bed, too!

    You are amazing! I loved reading both posts, but tonight’s just sparkles with your spirit! I’ve met some lovely people in this biz over the years, but you embody and exude the positivity I’d love to see in everyone — in publishing and in life.

    Thank you for your time and energy, and for sharing yourself!


  3. Elaine –

    Thank you so much for such an uplifting post. A beautiful reminder of what we do, why we do it and to enjoy it all along the way.

  4. Elaine – What rotten luck with the squirrel! I can’t blame you at all for being a touch frazzled. 🙂 But I have to say that the wrap up … Well that’s something I whole-heartedly believe in, paying it forward, kindness. Your kind word or thought may be the only warmth an individual receives for that day or worse for longer.

    I’ve been patiently waiting for the follow up to your Sunday post. And I’ll wait until you are done. Great posts.

  5. Elaine,
    What a day! The squirrel story had me chuckling. And you still managed an in-depth blog after all that. I really liked what you said about small acts of kindness. I just got back from a trip to B&N and there was a children’s book drive. You just buy a book and they donate it to the local children’s hospital. That’s something that has always impressed me about the reading/writing community — the propensity to reach out to others.
    Hope you get a breather tomorrow and thanks for the post!

  6. Ah…I started “Twilight” last week and couldn’t stop until I’d read all three. I also ordered JR Ward’s book-glad to know it comes recommended.

    Thanks for the positive post. It is sometimes hard to remember to stop and give back during all the hubub.

  7. Hi Elaine. I just read your posts–I’m sorry to hear about the troubles you were having at work today. I’m glad everything is sorted out now, though!

    I’m still pretty new to the writing world and finding an agent is something that has been on my mind recently. I know it’s a matter of opinion, but I was wondering if there were any key things a writer should look for, or look to avoid, while searching for an agent?

    Thanks! Hope tomorrow is better for you!

  8. Elaine,

    just a quick note to say thanks for a very interesting post. I was thinking about the process of reading for pleasure recently, because I had been concentrating so much on writing, home life and work that I had been doing exactly what you say above – saying I’m too busy to read for pleasure. Eventually, I started again and not only have I been reading for pleasure, I am also writing for pleasure again, rather than the stessed out, deadline. It’s a healthy reminder of why we do the things we do. 😀

  9. Elaine,
    I so agree with your views on random acts of kindness. I was at the receiving end of one this week. It just doesn’t get much better, and all it takes is a moment of your time.
    I am thoroughly enjoying your posts.
    Wishing you Miles of Smiles 🙂

  10. Hi Elaine,

    I have been enjoying your posts, and would like to let you know that I love your philosophy on life, especially those random acts of kindness. Thank you for sharing your expertise about the publishing business.

  11. My agent rocks.

  12. What a day for you! Thanks for providing such wonderful words of wisdom. I’ve enjoyed them, and look forward to the rest.

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