Mark Terry

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Overnight Success

December 26, 2007
Rick Riordan has a wonderful post from December 22 on his blog when he's asked about his overnight success.

If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears . . . well, the tree doesn’t exist until we notice it. Thinking about my own ‘overnight success,’ I remembered one of the first book signings I ever did, ten years ago, when Big Red Tequila first came out. I was invited to Waldenbooks in a shopping mall in Concord, California. They set up a table at the front of the store. They allotted two hours. I sat there in my coat and tie and watched people pass by, steering clear of me like I was an insurance salesman. I gave directions to Sears. I explained several times that I wasn’t an employee at the bookstore and I didn’t know where the self-help section was. I signed a napkin for a couple of teenaged boys who thought the title “Big Red Tequila” sounded slightly naughty because it had to do with alcohol. I sold no books.

I take some comfort in his piece, actually. I don't believe in overnight success. And I like Rick's work a lot, both his work for adults and his work for kids. I'm also grateful for a terrific blurb he wrote for my novel DIRTY DEEDS. It's not like we'd met or anything, but I suggested to my then-editor that we should ask Rick and she did and he read the book and blurbed it.

I think there's some irony, too, if you notice today's post on Rick's blog about 39 Clues, which he's writing and drafting a series for Scholastic, which the NYT is touting (probably ridiculously, as Rick notes) as the "next Harry Potter."

I would just note that for all of Rick's comments about his relative lack of "having made it," his early P.I. novels won damn near every mystery award available. He's a uniquely gifted writer and I delight in whatever his newest books are, for adults or kids.

And I take heart that I don't know what the hell overnight success is either.

Cheers,
Mark Terry

3 Comments:

Blogger PJ Parrish said...

Mark,
I will have to add Rick to my long list of overnight success stories that took a decade (or more) to happen: Ian Rankin, Harlan Coben, Laura Lippman, Lee Child, Robert Crais, Mike Connelly, Tess Gerritsen and a passel of romance writers who toiled in the Harlequin category fields before they broke out bigtime into romantic suspense.

It takes about ten years to get enough traction to make a true impact. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Some writers are sprinters (out of the gate in a gaudy streak early and then a quick fade). But the best ones seem to be the long distance runners, the ones who patiently turn out quality books year after year, getting better with each one.

8:24 AM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

Well, I already passed the overnight success mark, for sure! So, um, I guess I don't dream about that one, LOL.

8:58 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

It takes about ten years to get enough traction to make a true impact."

It'd be nice to think publishers would give you that much time, but they sure as hell don't. You're lucky to get two books these days.

10:04 AM  

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