I’ve been thinking about choice a great deal recently. I am not known for being capable of making choices easily. I panic when I am forced to make a choice—and I often make bad ones because of this. I find that I am frozen with indecision, and this isn’t a great place to be when you’re working at Ooligan.
When the press comes together to vote on a new title, I know that one way or another I won’t like the outcome, so I am in the habit of leaving my votes blank—giving up my choice so that I don’t have to take responsibility for it. I am letting fate and the rest of the press decide what I will be working on in the future. And simply living with it.
It is a terrible thing to do. And if you learn nothing else from this blog post, remember this: Do not be like me. I am wrong.
At Ooligan, we make choices that determine the future of our press and the futures of the authors who submit to us. Our decisions about who we say “yes” or “no” to affect how those authors feel about themselves and their work. No one looks to be rejected. Authors send their work into the world to make a connection, and when that connection is declined, it hurts—no matter the reasoning behind it. But while rejection isn’t great, refusing to make a choice is even worse. In doing this, you are not respecting work that the author has placed before you. By not responding, you are essentially ignoring the author and ignoring your responsibility as a publisher.
In publishing, we have the privilege to breathe life into a book many times over through editing, design, and marketing. We get to guide a manuscript through many transformations and make many choices that affect its future. We decide how the edits will shape the story, how the design will frame it, and how the readers will see it in stores.
At the end of all this, a book exists in the world that might not have otherwise.
But not everyone gets the breath of life that you have to offer. You have a limited amount to give. You have to decide. And so the weight of indecision bears down on you, but you shouldn’t ignore your power to choose just because you can’t face the responsibility of it.
I think about the many books that should exist and could exist if someone accepted them. For that to happen, a choice has to be made.