Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Be Prepared for Randomness

The book publishing business is extremely random. I know many writers who plot and plan and are certain they figured out the key to success. Then a flood hits the publisher's warehouse and half their print run never makes it to store shelves. Their books are delivered to a Walmart or Sam's and the pallet containing them sits on the dock or gets left out in the rain. The guy who stocks the shelves gets sick and this week's books are returned as next week's arrive. Your e-book gets lost in the pile of 1,500 other new e-books that came out that month.
But let's say everything works in your favor. You do several signings with good solid turnouts and your books seem to be selling like hotcakes. Surely you made a local best seller list...only to discover the list decided not to report the two weeks during which your book came out for internal staff reasons. Or your debut-which you sold as a hard cover-yes!- comes out the same day as Nora Robert's, James Patterson, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and four other best sellers. Bookstores stock best sellers. Readers buy best sellers first.
Why am I telling you these depressing things? I want you to write because you want to write. I want you to know that you are writing for you first. Yes, study the market place and polish your work and send it out to good agents and try for the best publishers. Yes, do it! (It shows respect for yourself, your talent and your story.) But don't write genre fiction if you're looking for easy cash, *snort* or bestseller fame. Or even respect from critics and the book world. You won't make it very long if these are the things that motivate you because they are the things you cannot control.
In the beginning and in the end, a successful fiction writing career depends on your love of your story, your happiness with your characters, your joy of bringing to life the stories in your head. When that is enough then, whether you publish well or not, you are successful.
My wish for you this week is that you find the joy in your work. cheers~


Judy Croome said...

Very true Nancy! And that's been the hard journey I've had to learn this past year - that ultimately good writing comes from writing for the joy of writing and not for anything else! Fame, money, accolades, even the desire for publication, must be incidental to that joy of writing the story you speak of.

Pamala Knight said...

Wise words Nancy. In the end, writing because you want to is the most important thing.


Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Judy,

I bet I mention this topic about every six months or so- why? Because I get caught up in what I can't control-lol. It's like an open bowl of chocolate. You'd think I could learn this lesson and move on. But no, I'm silly that way. :D
Glad to see you writing with joy. (It does come through in your work.)

Marilyn Brant said...

Nancy, I think we all need to be reminded of this -- and with some frequency ;). There is just nothing easy about this big crazy game, and even the blessings sometimes come with unexpected downsides. I keep having to remember why I started doing this when I get overwhelmed by the professional-writer life. Like in "Ice Castles," I have to just close my eyes and skate by feel for a while...

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I had to laugh out loud at your examples and could easily identify with a couple of them. I think your advice is excellent. If you’re not writing for the fun of it, chances are you are going to be very disappointed in the long run.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Pamala, thanks for stopping by. :D Hope you're writing what you love.

Hi Marilyn, I like that reference. close your eyes and skate by feel.

Hi Jane, :D if only we could all win the lotto... which is what some people think happens when you publish a book.

Cheers, my friends!