Surprises in the Publishing World — A Guest Post by Author Laura Toffler-Corrie
The publishing world can be a crazy place, sometimes wonderful and sometimes not so much. Here are the types of surprises I’ve encountered in my journey so far:
- Working with an editor.
On a scale of one to ten (ten being the most fun) I’d give this one a fifteen. You get to talk about your book with someone who wants to listen. Your editor loved your book enough to choose it over piles of submissions and convince her colleagues to take a risk on you. So, even though the revision process can be daunting, she gets you and wants your work to shine.
Among other fun surprises:
- Getting my first advance.
- Seeing my book covers for the first time.
- Seeing my books in bookstores.
- Getting my first good review.
- Getting my first fan letter.
- Meeting fans at book signings.
SURPRISES THAT I’M NOT SURE HOW TO FEEL ABOUT:
- The world of publishing is constantly changing.
Between the advent of e-books, self publishing options, boutique publishing, etc. a writer must do her homework. Plus, now more than ever you’re expected to promote your books, organize signings, book tours, school visits, utilize social media, etc. (oh and write!)
- “Nobody knows anything.” This is a very true quote from screenwriting guru William Goldman.
People are always looking for the next big thing, but what is it? How do you maintain your writer’s voice in the face of popular, lucrative trends? Conversely, how can you totally ignore what’s hot in the marketplace? No easy answers here.
UNSURPRISING (YET HARD TO ACCEPT) SURPRISES:
- Very few writers will be rock stars. Most books will do okay or slip into mid list. Some will do poorly.
My friend is published by a small house and churns out a book every year or so. They’re not break out hits, but they do well enough for the house to keep offering her contracts. She makes some money. At the beginning she thought her career would be bigger, but now she’s thrilled to just be working steadily. The point?
- Not everyone gets a movie deal.
- Not everyone gets on the Times bestseller list.
- Not everyone makes oodles of money, enough so that they can quit their day job.
Even though fantasies of wild success are normal, expectations do have to be kept in check.
- Loyalty in publishing can be fleeting.
When your book sells, you’re surrounded by a team of people who seem to love you. You collaborate. Bond. You believe they are your peeps. You think you and your peeps will be developing your career over the long haul.
Then it can change in a flash. If your book doesn’t make money, your peeps may suddenly just not be that into you anymore.
Of course publishing is a business. Everyone answers to someone and those numbers have to crunch. But in the words of fashionista, Heidi Klum, “Either you’re in or you’re out.”
You can be ‘in’ again for sure, but when you’re out, it stings.
SURPRISES THAT HAVE PISSED ME OFF:
- Reviewers who are downright, badass mean.
This includes professional reviewers and the average Joe reviewers, Goodreads people (you know who you are), bloggers, etc.
It makes me wonder, s’up mean people?
It also makes me wonder how review assignments work. Is there some big boss who’s like: “Okay, everyone. I’ve got a comedy here…You in the back. You have a sour personality and no sense of humor. How ‘bout you take this one?”
Not to say that I haven’t gotten good reviews. I certainly have and for those I’m grateful. I’ve also gotten some lukewarm reviews and some people just don’t like my books. I get that and appreciate when the feedback is constructive.
But I’ve also gotten some super nasty reviews, as almost every writer has. Those are hurtful and not cool.
And yes, I’ve heard, it’s a free country. People can say what they want, but in a civilized country people should at least try and be kind.
AND LAST, BUT NOT LEAST: GREAT SURPRISES:
- In the publishing world, great things can happen. If you stay humble and grateful, you can be happy a lot of the time.
- As writers, we can connect with others. We can create worlds. We can touch other people’s lives, inspire them, make them laugh, cry, feel and think; all with just the wacky stuff that slides out of our heads!
- We can surround ourselves with cool people.
- We can sit in coffee houses for hours, drink frothy beverages, eat crumbly cakes, eavesdrop and be creative. We can even act all artsy and wear berets if we like.
- We can attend high school or college reunions and be like:“Why, yes…I remember you. You’re the one who doubted I could make it as a writer. You snorted and said something like: ‘Good luck with that…’ Turns out I didn’t need your stinky old luck. I am a published writer. And I did it all on my own. Against the odds. And, for better or worse I’ve had the courage of my convictions and am living a life that’s full of surprises.”