Words, Weights, Whatever

Wednesday, November 26, 2003



Around once a week the enormity of what I'm doing--becoming a full-time, published novelist--hits me and gets me down. Becoming a novelist is not like obtaining a college degree. The latter, at least, guarantees an end (the diploma) obtained by one's direct diligence efforts. No, getting published involves several other entire parties: the publishing industry and the readership.

Every writer, every author, every article, bluntly points to the publishing industries drive to meet the "bottom-line." As a business major, I can appreciate that. What erodes my confidence is there's nothing I can do about it: I can write an outstanding novel but the publisher can still reject it because someone else's MS has already been accepted/the company's line is booked (pun intended) for the next couple of years/Stephen King (or Nora Roberts or Michael Crichton or....) just raised their advance, etc.

And part of the bottom line is the readership. Various surveys show that the number one indicator determing the rise (and fall) of a novel is word-of-mouth. While knowing that drives me to do my best when I submit my MS and--once I'm published--I start marketing myself, I also realized (as a reader myself) the difficulty of enticing new readers to one's books.

I'm not putting any blame on either group. For me, it's all a matter of control (or the illusion of it). Specifically, the feeling that my efforts have some direct impact in my aspiration. Must be the American in me. (Also, just wanted to vent a bit.) Besides, these blues fade usually instantaneously. Why? For me, the reasons that I write in the first place: I actually enjoy it and the reassurance that, even if I never get anything published (which, of course, will never happen short of an accident), it wasn't due to lack of trying. And I have control over that.


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