Yesterday was a huge day on the calendar for me. It was the first anniversary of the incredible morning when my agent called to say there was a lot of interest in my novel, and yes–we had an offer.
On my blog, I wrote about the 10 ways that day changed my life–and the one highly significant way it didn’t: I still get up every morning and face a blank computer screen with the same crazy mix of trepidation and inspiration, resistance and excitement that I always did. And I still crank out my daily pages whether I feel like it or not.
I guess there was once a time, and not too long ago, when that was considered enough. Not any more. Now the year or more that elapses between the sale of a novel and the pub date are filled with brainstorming, networking, and bouts of feverish promotion. To my surprise, I found that I loved the challenge–even when the things I learned were completely contradictory. Feel free to add to my ten:
1. Forget everything you’ve ever heard about established authors being elitist or competitive or unwilling to help an unknown. There may be some out there like that, but the ones I’ve encountered have been nothing but supportive, kind, and generous.
2. At some point, someone’s probably going to hand you a copy of “Rotten Reviews and Rejections” and tell you to be prepared; it happens to everyone. Really? People might write bad things about my masterpiece–and in the newspaper, where friends and enemies alike can see it? Yes, really.
3. There’s 60,000 books freaking published every year! If you don’t get out there and market like a mad dog, you’re going to fall on your ass.
4. You may well fall on your ass anyway.
5. Other writers, particularly other debut authors, will be the first to buy you a drink and tell you they loved your novel no matter how many copies it sold. They’ll also remind you that most careers are built slowly and steadily.
6. George Pelacanos is a great writer and THE NIGHT GARDENER is one amazing book. What’s that got to do with anything? Not much. But I’m 50 pages from the end, and I just had to say…
7. If you don’t have a blog, an internet presence, a unique marketing strategy, and maybe even an outside publicist, you’re going to fall on your ass.
8. Has anyone seen how much an outside publicist charges? Yowsa!
9. Even if you hire one, you still may fall on your ass.
10. In the end, the work you do every morning or every night–whether sitting in your pajamas drinking almost illegal amounts of caffeine like I do, or rewarding yourself with shots of whiskey like Hemingway and the boys did–is what matters most. Lose track of that, and lessons 1 – 9 are all for naught. (Except the one about George Pelacanos. He’s still one helluva writer. Now I’m off to the delectable task of finishing his novel.)
6 Comments so far
Leave a comment