Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cry Me A River

Here is an article from Salon:

It is quite literally one of the most  horrifying things I've read coming from the literary world.  And not because of this author's supposed "sob" story, but because of her brazen ego and idiocy.  Let's see now: poor (cowardly and anonymous) author complains about how she doesn't make enough money in the writing industry, since all publishers care about are books that sell well.  As a midlister author, she has problems signing deals with houses and editors.  Do we sense something wrong here?  Take a deep breath; there are a lot.  

Firstly, this woman whines about poor deals, and her first book advance was $150,000.  My initial reaction was that she was either J.K. Rowling or a liar.  No right-minded, prestigious New York publishing house will offer an advance that large for the first novel of an unknown, unless you're God or a celebrity.  Actually, not even J.K. got that for her first.  Everybody who has done even the minimal amount of research knows that the average advance is only a few thousand at best.  I would die of happiness if I managed to get an offer for $5,000.  I would die of happiness if I got an offer at all.  And then, of course, her books don't get onto the NY Times Bestseller list (is this even a valid complaint?), so her next advance is drastically lower, which she proceeds to moan about.  Eventually, the number of books she sells drops off so low that her editor won't sign her new book contract, even though she insists that her editor still loves her, multiple times.

Here's a bit of the real world, honey.  Your editor Does Not Love You. Your editor only loves you if you roll in the dough.  If that doesn't happen, you and your editor may be practically soulmates, but he will drop you like a rock.  Your agent loves you.  Your editor Does Not. Also, of course publishing houses are out to find novels that sell well. This has not changed since the beginning of time.  Claims that the publishing industry used to "believe in new writers, and published their stuff even if it didn't sell well, because 'they' knew that eventually you'd get it right," is an outright LIE.  This is capitalism, folks, competition wins.  Publishing houses sell books that people want to read.  It only makes financial and logical sense.  

Finally, this semi-successful author was horrified when she found the earnings from her books couldn't pay the bills, so she took a "day job," and considered it a sign of failure.  You know which authors can live off their writing?  I can give you a list.

1.  J.K. Rowling, because she sold billions of books all over the world and got a movie franchise, plus merchandise galore.  She is a freak of nature.
2.  Stephen King, because he is an icon of American literature, and like J.K., is a freak of nature.
3.  Stephenie Meyer, because again, she found the commercial vein of YA, and metaphorically and literally, bit into it.  She also has unbelievable sheer dumb luck.
4.  Danielle Steele, because contrary to popular belief, a lot of people actually do read romance novels, and if you write well (like she does, evidently), you will sell millions of books.
5.  Rick Riordan, because his series has been on the NY Times Bestseller list for 50+ weeks now and is currently the #1 series in kid's lit.  Plus, he has a movie franchise and had many books before his PJO series, not to mention starred reviews and awards.

I guess you could say all these people are freaks of nature.  This doesn't happen to normal people.  Everybody else has a day job or some other source of income.  See?  I don't know why having another job is so shameful.

If you love writing for the sake of writing, as this author claims, why is a big advance even an issue?  She's supposedly sold at least 25,000 of each book she's written, sold past the initial print, right? Writers write because it makes them happy.  When it stops making you happy, it's time to stop writing.  This person's whining makes absolutely no sense to me, especially when I think of all the people (like myself) who would love to have her "mid-lister" success.  If her first advance was real, her agent must be God.  But I suspect this person isn't being wholly truthful.

1 comment:

  1. Hi!

    First, thanks for stopping by my blog ( I am a dedicated reader of Authoress' blog, which I find extremely informative ^^

    Loved this article by the way. That woman shouldn't be writing if all she cares about are advances...