Mark Terry

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

That's A Career, Man!

January 26, 2010
I was directed to a blog that had a bunch of crime novelists honoring Robert B. Parker, the author of the Spenser novels (and many others) who passed away last week at the age of 77 (while working at his desk). Parker easily falls into my top 3 favorite authors--Robert B. Parker, Dick Francis, and John Sandford, I guess, although really, it's almost impossible to narrow it down. I just know that for many years I have ordered or bought their books in hard cover as soon as they come out and read them with great pleasure as soon as possible. There are certainly others in that list, including Jonathan Kellerman and Sue Grafton, although Grafton's last couple books haven't done much for me. In fact, Parker's last few books haven't fallen into his "best of" category.

On the other hand, I bothered to count--I've read 54 books written by Robert B. Parker. 54! Hell, most of us, even if we've written only 4 or 5 (or 2) that get published, the quality may vary slightly. To expect a home run every time out over the course of 60-some books is expecting a lot.

Occasionally I realize, hey, I'm a novelist. I've had published:

CATFISH GURU (a collection of 2 novellas)
DIRTY DEEDS
THE DEVIL'S PITCHFORK
THE SERPENT'S KISS

and upcoming are:
THE FALLEN
THE VALLEY OF SHADOWS

and I published an e-book for the Kindle:
DANCING IN THE DARK.

So I guess I'm doing okay.

But I remember opening a novel by Robert B. Parker, and having the same reaction I'd had when I opened a novel by the late Ed McBain or Dick Francis (now co-writing them with his son, Felix, since Dick is in his 80s) and looked at all the books they'd written and had published over the years and saying to myself, "That's a career, man!"

I know that a lot of us would sort of like a career like Dan Brown--5 novels published, with one being a phenomenon that launched all the other books into the stratosphere. I mean, yeah, I wouldn't mind being a uber-bestseller, at least if I could avoid the stalkers and plagiarism lawsuits. There's certainly a downside to that kind of success and I'd rather avoid that kind of infamy so I could stay out of courtrooms and leave my house without people following me or coming up to me at restaurants. Ick.

I'd much rather have a career like Parker or McBain, like Grafton and Dick Francis, like Stephen King and others. A long, successful career with a trail of books following comet-like behind me.

You?

5 Comments:

Blogger Alan Orloff said...

Absolutely. Where do I sign up?

Like you, I think I've read just about every Parker book (I haven't read his YA book yet).

"That's a career, man!" Heck, that's three or four careers!

7:22 AM  
Blogger sex scenes at starbucks said...

I'd be happy with stalkers if my book did that well. Well, I have one now, but she's really harmless and very nice actually...So she probably doesn't count.

7:30 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

For most writers having a career at all, even if it consists of one novel published, is pretty good so you're doing fine. But, yeah, it's amazing to see authors with so many books. John D MacDonald wrote more than 20 Travis McGee mysteries in addition to dozens of other books. But still not enough McGees for me since I had read them all when JDM died. I just read the first again and I plan on rereading the whole lot over the next few years.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Linda Pendleton said...

Mark, your comments are interesting. Being the widow Don Pendleton, a successful and prolific author, and known as “the father of the action/adventure genre,” I have to say that success does not necessarily mean being high-profile. Over the long years (late 1960s -1995) of Don’s career he did workshops, signings, talks, tv and radio, written interviews, but for the most part his time was devoted to his love of writing. He published 38 original Executioner novels, the Joe Copp and Ashton Ford mystery series, along with various other novels and a few nonfiction books. Lawsuits—yes, from publishers trying to take away his rights.

But for the most part, as a writer, life was “normal” and he made a full-time excellent living all those years...and his family is still benefiting from his hard work. Occasionally while in public someone might recognize him and he was most gracious.

Another very successful writer was a friend, Richard Prather, author of the Shell Scott mystery series of more than forty books. He, too, lived a “normal life.”

Neither of these men during the height of their careers earned the amount of money that a few of today’s top authors earn but nonetheless, they both sold tons of books worldwide.

I suppose my comments here are about the meaning of success....for my husband it was the joy of writing a story and entertaining readers. I have to say, I have discovered that same thing. It’s really not about the money...it is about the satisfaction of doing the best we can, a meeting of the minds, the author with his or her readers. For Don, he has had four generations of readers....and I still get fan mail about the impact his writing has had on others.

To me, that is what writing is all about.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Linda,
Good advice, I think. I'm quite happy as a freelance writer. I'm quite happy writing novels. Where I get tangled up is when I start worrying about the BUSINESS of publishing and marketing novels, which is mostly a giant pain in the neck, for me at least.

10:35 AM  

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