Mark Terry

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Where Are You?

August 11, 2007

As I tried to write earlier, I had dinner with my friend Stephanie Newman when I was in Denver back in June. I see Stephanie about once a year (she's the executive director of an organization for which I edit their technical journal and we see each other at the annual meeting) and she asked how the writing was coming and I said the same old usual self-deprecating bullshit, punctuating it with a shrug.

Stephanie said, "Well, you've certainly come a long ways since I've known you."

Well said, Stephanie. And she didn't just mean writing fulltime. When we first met I don't believe I had a novel published yet, although I'd have to double-check to see if CATFISH GURU had been published yet. Maybe. But since then, I've moved from more or less self-publishing to a small press to multiple contracts with a small imprint of a large non-NY publisher. I've also got French translation rights and (in theory) Slovak and German rights sold. My film rights are being shopped around by Hollywood hotshot Joel Gottler and book scouts are regularly contacting us to read copies. My books are being published and I've got some other projects being marketed.

Huh. It really is true that you can't see the picture from inside the frame. I'm so busy doing what I'm doing, trying to claw my way up in the publishing world that I forget to glance around and notice how far I've come from where I've been.

I think every writer at every level should probably do this from time to time. Unpublished still? Did you get an agent? Did some agents nibble? Some editors? Did you finish a manuscript where before you didn't? Did some kind words, a small sale, or anything similar come your way? Or hell, maybe you've published 7 novels already and somewhere in your mind don't think that's successful. (Yeah, hard to believe, but I'd lay money down that many feel that way).

I'm aware that there's at least one person who regularly reads this blog who regularly gets published under a pseudonym and probably makes more money from her fiction than I do, but seems to think she's not as successful as she actually is. She might need to step back and take a look around, too.

So yeah, I guess I've come a long way. For going on four years I've had a sign above my desk that says: Success is a journey not a destination.

It's staying above my desk. I should have it matted and framed.

How about you? Where are you?


Mark Terry


Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Where am I? Pretty much in the dark. I've been wandering around for years. I thought I had a map of the publishing world but it turns out it was rubbish. There don't seem to be many signs here either. I can see one up ahead, though, flickering on and off. Looks broken. I can make out an "E." Damned if I know whether it's "Entrance" or "Exit."

Now if I had seven novels published....

6:44 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Funny, I thought I had a map of the publishing world, too, but apparently it was some OTHER publishing world. The whole experience is reminiscent of wandering around a dark maze. I'm unraveling my thread, but there just might be some bulls (or other equally frightening mythology creatures) there in the darkness.

5:11 AM  
Blogger Joe Moore said...

The concept of success is a tough one because it means different things to different folks. In a previous day job, the company CEO referred to it as the “S” word and forbid anyone from ever uttering it. I think he was trying to avoid anyone from becoming complacent. Without actually saying the word, we won an Emmy Award for technology and achieved a 75% market share worldwide. Pretty successful by anyone’s standards.

I think to be successful at writing or anything, you must establish what success means to you, create a goal that if reached will define a successful moment, relish in the moment, then set the next goal. If you don’t, you’ll never achieve success because you don’t know when it has occurred.

5:30 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Good advice, Joe.

My only PS to that might be to focus on things you have control over. That is to say, if your goal is to get a novel published, good. If your goal is to sell 8000 copies, good.

If your goal is to become a New York Times Bestseller, that might not be controllable. (It's a moving target, anyway).

Or, in my case, if I made a goal to have a movie made from one of my books, I have no control over that unless I want to become a filmmaker. A "goal" I suppose would be to get a book optioned by film and we can work toward that by making sure it's being marketed to book scouts and producers. I'm still not wild about it as a "goal" but I suppose it's somewhere between a goal and a wish.

6:13 AM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

You can't possibly be talking about me, could you? Well, next year is different. I don't want to grumble on your blog, but unless I build my own site for my pseudonym, or NY-publish my real name, then I'm not going to make much more than vacation money. Time will tell, I suppose. So big dive for me, here. Or maybe it's a window opening.

What's "more or less self-publishing," LOL? That sounds like a story!

10:52 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

"More-or-less self-publishing."

See if I can make a very long story short.

I had a contract to publish a novel, BLOOD SECRETS, with Write Way Publishing. I wrote a prequel, a 12-chapter novella, "Name Your Poison" that I intended to post a chapter a month on my website leading up to the publication of BS. Around month 6, Write Way went out of business.

Right around the same time, iUniverse had a deal with Mystery Writers of America, that if MWA members were interested, they had a 6-month window to publish something and they waived what was their then $99 fee. So I wrote another novella, "Catfish Guru" and published CATFISH GURU via iUniverse, a collection of mystery novellas.

The reason I call it more-or-less self-publishing was that, unlike most self-pub, or even the majority of POD (more or less the same thing, I guess), I didn't pay a dime. On the other hand, it's essentially self-publishing.

11:21 AM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

Wow, I can't imagine the frustration of that! I have a friend whose publication date kept moving up. She had a cover, bought bookmarks, website, everything. Now they're kinda going out of business (just prolonging the end, at the moment). She's devastated.

Such a tough world. Pity.

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