As the stock market took yet another big hit yesterday people all over the world are scrambling to figure out a way to secure their savings. What is the answer? I have no idea. The stock market has always been like a foreign language to me and today's numbers are no different. I can understand the fallout however. It is easy to see where the problem stems from. For the life of me, I can't understand how so many financial institutions lent money on bad debts.
When my husband and I went for our fist mortgage it was a difficult and grueling process. The bank wanted a list of every asset we had (which wasn't many at the time) and they picked us apart under a microscope. We very nearly got declined if not for a last-minute "gift" (which we paid back) from helpful family members to make up the difference in the down payment. What gets me, is the fact that we weren't trying to borrow against our means. We were buying a home within our income status. We could totally afford the mortgage payments, taxes, ect. . .
When we applied for our next mortgage, which was again well within our budget, the bank didn't want my name on the deed because I was a stay-at-home mother with no income. Yet, time and time again, these same financial institutions lent money to folks who bought high dollar homes on incomes that obviously couldn't make the grade. As I mentioned earlier, I'm no number-cruncher, but isn't this common sense? What happened to the fine-tooth-comb mentality my hubby and I had gone up against? And what were those consumers thinking? As my mother would say, they had champagne tastes but only a beer pocket book.
So now, thanks to those bad loans and the ease of buying on credit, we're all losing. I see my husband come home each night with a deep worry line above his brow and I see my rejection pile getting bigger when only a few short months ago it was filled with positive reinforcement. When I say everyone is suffering, I do mean those big corporate publishing houses too.
I recently got an email from a great editor at one of those big New York imprints regarding a picture book manuscript she'd been holding for a year. According to her, she loved it and wanted to take it on. It was the marketing department who squashed it, stating they felt it would get lost in today's difficult market.
This is sad news for those of us who are still trying to make our mark in the world of children's publishing. Unless we have already solidified a name for ourselves in the field, or are a known celebrity, the big firms are afraid to take a chance. Profit margins are the ultimate goal and with the economy in such turmoil, losses are not an option. So what does this mean for those of us still in the trenches? It means the competition is harder than ever. It means the stakes are higher than ever. Your work has to be amazing, and you have to find that right editor at that right moment who loves your work enough to stand up for it and push it through against the odds. When you submit, make sure it is the absolute best it can be. Show professionalism and pride in your product. Let's show those publishers that we can, and will, write better content than those untalented (I mean this in the "writing" sense.) celebs with pretty smiles and big names.
In the meantime, don't quit your day job. Keep writing. Every day. Because practice makes perfect. And besides, we're writers. We're not in it for the money. (Although that's a nice benefit.) We write because the passion to do so is too strong to ignore. If we couldn't write, we'd be lost. So please, in these tough times, stay focused and stay found. Good luck!