Half Full, Half Empty, or Always Full?

The optimist says half full.

The pessimist says half empty.

The smart-ass says always full.


Regardless of which view you take, a little pessimism in life is not necessarily a bad thing — especially for authors — and it’s #5 on that list of the 25 Virtues.

“But, pessimism is bad,” says you.

“Pishaw!” says I. Like being weird, I embrace my pessimistic nature. Why? Self-preservation. If you believe everything you’re told, if you trust everyone you meet, you’re going to get some unpleasant surprises in life. You know that deal that sounds just too good to be true? The one that Half-full guy is telling you is awesomesauce with a side of splendiferous? Listen to Half-empty guy when he suggests you take a little closer look at things with your eyes wide open.

As authors and budding authors, we are often peppered by “deals”. Perhaps paying someone up front to be your agent sounds like a surefire way to break into traditional publishing. Listen to Half-empty. Don’t pay an agent. Ever. Real agents work on commission. If they don’t sell your book, they don’t get any $$. It’s called incentive.

Say you just got an offer from a “Publisher” who wants to give you the deal of the century Β — and all it will cost you is between five and ten grand to cover all their up-front expenses. But, hey, your book will be out there in stores, on shelves, on-line — oh, and by the by, you’ll need to not only provide that cash, but do all the marketing as well. Nice cover? That will cost you extra. Want your own copies? Cha-ching.

Contracts? Please, enlist a professional to read them. If you just can’t afford that necessity, then let Half-empty read them. That seemingly innocuous clause, worded so innocently, really means you just gave away all your rights. Forever. And ever. And . . .

Now, I’m not telling you to be a Negative Nelly and never trust anything or anyone. I’m just telling you to be careful and go with your gut instincts. We have them for a reason. And don’t be so desperate that you jump at the first opportunity that comes along. Take time. Breathe deep, clear your head, listen carefully to Half-full and Half-empty, weigh your choices, then make your decision and deal (hopefully happily) with the outcome.

My glass is usually half-empty, until I choose to fill it to the top.



  1. I think realism serves me best, but when it comes to something as huge as this, pessimism can definitely be an important tool. Optimism says, “woohoo, sweet deal!” Pessimism counters with “Everyone is out to take advantage of you.” Realism steps in and says, “Okay, let’s look at this logically and carefully, and you two can fight it out once we know what’s really going on.”

    I find pessimism depressing if I let it take over. I do know several brilliant, funny pessimists, though, so I know it’s not all bad. πŸ™‚

  2. All I could think of was the Teddy Roosevelt quote: “Trust everyone, but cut the cards.” The optimist trusts everyone, the pessimist cuts the cards, and the realist does both.

    • Like the quote I have above my monitor: The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails. ~ William Arthur Ward

      The middle ground is often the best place to be.

  3. Sound advice. Wish I’d had it a few years ago. But, I’m a better writer now, with more opportunities ahead, and I sure as hell won’t be making the same mistakes again!

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