|Shelf space is its own hunger game|
I used to read the best-seller lists from the New York Times and would think that I couldn't possibly have "made it" as an author until I was gracing the top ten. I used to read about all the Big Six publishers and dream of the day I'd call my mom, tears streaming down my face, and screaming "I just got signed to a three-book deal at Random House! I'm sending you a million dollars and buying a pony and moving to Italy!"
I would read prestigious publications like The New Yorker or watch what was the latest and greatest in the Oprah Book Club and think, "Gee, if I can get here, then I'll truly have achieved something."
I would gaze at literary agent listings and think that unless I had the biggest badass bulldog hotshot in Manhattan peddling my books, I wasn't going to get anywhere as a writer.
|Palpatine is a great agent. Very high commissions.|
I learned that if I wanted to stay in this business, I had to change my definition of success.
|"Milk or dark chocolate?"|
The only things an author really needs to feel like a real author (other than written material) are readers and royalties. Readers come from everywhere, and royalties, well... they might be peanuts starting out, but you'll eventually find that those peanuts are like little nuggets of gold that scream out: ERMAHGERD! SOMEONE GAVE YOU MONEY FOR YOUR STORIES!!! And that's often enough to make you keep pushing for more.
There are many advantages to working with a small press that you won't get from a large publisher. They're more flexible, more personable, more keen to your creative wishes. Every book they accept has to, without question, do well or they won't be able to keep the lights on. They don't have multi-million dollar book deals with Snooki or the latest disgraced politician to keep their ships afloat while midlisters rise to and then drop from their ranks like flies. The right small-press, one that invests in its authors, knows that they have to sell or everyone loses. Also, their contracts are often fairer. Some of them can even give you a better share of royalties and pay you more often. And when you're self-publishing and can manage to do well for yourself, that's complete freedom right there.
When you make it to a certain point in your career where you've attained enough success in the "minor leagues" to attract the attention of some of the bigger players, you start to get a sense of what you really want. The lens comes into focus and you find that your original dreams aren't exactly what you thought they were. No more does that huge writing contract seem as alluring if it comes at the expense of certain freedoms, or a shorter shelf-life for your book. That front table at Barnes & Noble doesn't seem all that important when you think about what you might have to sacrifice in exchange for it.
|Think of your book as this cute kitten. Would you want to sacrifice or orphan this cute kitten?|
I have a feeling I could have attracted a good agent with my book STRINGS. It's more mainstream than my other work, it has a large audience (thriller), and not to toot my own horn, but I think it's pretty darn good and possibly the best thing I've ever written. But in the end I stuck with what was working for me. It's a big, scary world right now, and with all the transition happening in the publishing industry, I don't feel much like venturing out into open water to swim with the sharks. Hobbes End has been excellent to me, I love working with them, and I believe they are very skilled at producing books, marketing them, and getting them into readers' hands. In the end, that's what I'm after.
|The moon might also be covered|
with carnivorous dust particles.