Mark Terry

Friday, March 27, 2009

Can't Get No Satisfaction

March 27, 2009
Ah, Mick, Mick, Mick. I remember seeing (probably not live) an interview with a very young Mr. Jagger, probably upon entering the U.S. for their first tour, and a female reporter (naturally) asked Mick Jagger if he'd had any satisfaction yet. He answered, "Sexually, yes; philosophically, I'm working on it."

I just want y'all to know that it's Friday, I'm a bit cranky, the flu bug I've been fighting all week still won't go away, I've got some sinus pressure and... anyway, let that inform the tone of today's post.

The question is: Mark, did you find getting your books published a satisfying experience?

I can't possibly describe how complicated a question this actually is. My writer friend Jon, whom you know better as LurkerMonkey, once commented that a lot of the published novelists he knew felt it was rather bittersweet.

Uh, yeah. I would say that in so many ways--many of them financial--actually getting a novel published didn't even come close to meeting my expectations.

Granted, I've also had some disasters, with publishers going under before the book got published, and that'll taint your experience, fer shur, fer shur.

I think part of the issue--not all, but part--is we invest so much in the process. Typically sitting down day after day to write a 400 page manuscript requires the expectation of fairly great things somewhere in our psyche. And then to have it either rejected repeatedly or acquired for something like $1000 with all these weird contractual stipulations, then not be reviewed, not picked up by bookstores, etc., well, it's anti-climactic.

Your mileage may vary.

Also, some people love to be the center of attention. I'm of the more typical writer variety. I love to be the center of attention--when I'm not around to be uncomfortable by it.

So here's a few thoughts:

The person this will mean the most to is you. For an awful lot of other people it'll be worthy of a, "Oh, congratulations. That's cool," without a second thought. (Unless you got 6-figures and a movie deal, in which case they'll be significantly more interested in who's going to play the main character in the movie, book-be-damned).

Your family's reaction may or may not be what you expect. My sister's always wonderfully supportive, as is my brother. My wife is supportive, but doesn't get drawn into the hoopla because she understands the work-to-reward equation better perhaps than even I do.

Your friends and neighbors... mostly don't give a damn if they know at all.

People in your community, I'll tell you what, they're not going to run out and buy your book. You get a nice interview about yourself and your book in the local newspaper and a week or two later someone'll say, "Hey, nice interview. I should pick up a copy of your book sometime. Does the library have it?" Or, just as often, "Can you loan me a copy?" Or, "I don't read." Or, "I've got this great idea for a novel that would make a blockbuster movie." Or...

So my question here is really for those of you who have had novels published: did you get satisfaction?

And for the rest of you, do you think your expectations are realistic?

Mark Terry


Blogger LurkerMonkey said...

I think I'm around too many published writers to have crazy expectations. But, actually, beyond that, I don't really have many expectations for what happens after I finally sell a book. Truly, my expectation is that I will continue to work very hard but that the necessary skill-set will shift from writing the book to selling the book.

6:26 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Yeah. And that selling thing is weird in comparison to other types of selling.

6:37 AM  
Anonymous s said...

Bittersweet is exactly how I feel. After years of dreaming of this day, why aren't I doing cartwheels?

It's not about the money; of that I'm sure. It has something to do with having gone through so much bullshit to get here.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Richmond Writer said...

Oh, I plan to make sure my neighbors give a hoot about my book, especially the old biddy that lives two doors down and needs an attitude adjustment about what exactly constitutes a weed.

My verification word is: pardoot. Is that pardon or don't give a hoot?

3:07 PM  

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