Friday, February 02, 2007

A Fungus Amongus

Well, not really a fungus (though my hubby often thinks that's about where agents rank on the evolutionary scale. He's allowed his opinion--I'll take my agent instead.:)) but there is a new agent making a splash on the agent scene, and even made a comment here the other day. Nathan Bransford (who rejected my query three times BTW *laugh*) has a very fun blog that you can find here. He has also been answering questions on Absolute Write and something he said made me really think and became the topic of today's blog.:)

"Here's the thing about writing. It's tough. Writing is really, really tough, and yet the old cliche is true -- the writing is the easy part. Then there's the long slog of finding an agent. Then the fortunate ones find an agent and there's the long slog of submissions and finding a publisher. Then the really really fortunate ones find a publisher. That's the point where people think life is a bed of roses, but I'm here to tell you it's not. There are bad reviews and the pressure of whether your books are selling and the uncertainty of whether you'll have another book published and the fear that you just got lucky. Even if you strike gold and write a bestseller there's the pressure of writing another one and the huge expectations of your publisher.

Meanwhile, that's also the step where people think you can just sit on a beach and be a novelist, but it's virtually impossible to make a living as a full-time writer unless you're a mega-bestseller or have other means of supporting yourself.

In short: this is a really tough business. So is it worth it?

I really do believe that it's worth it if you love it. But it's important to go into this business with the right mindset. And I think having the right mindset entails avoiding the "if only" game.

The "if only" game goes something like this: "If only" I had an agent I would be happy. Then that inevitably leads to the next step: "if only" I a publisher I would be happy. "If only" I sold X copies I would be happy. Which leads to "if only" I were a bestseller I would be happy. And so on and so on. Happiness is always just over the horizon.

In my opinion, the only way to be happy in this business is to somehow avoid playing that game and appreciate every step. There's not a bed of roses waiting for you after every hill. Even if you haven't found an agent it doesn't mean you're a failure or that you shouldn't be happy with the accomplishment of writing a book.

So I think that's the one thing I'd like to convey -- try to enjoy every step and even though there's so much waiting and frustration in the business it's fun to write, and sure, it's great when it pans out and that means people buy your book, but it's not everything."

Writing is tough. Mostly from the business end, in my opinion. And that is something you really learn once you take that first dive into the industry: whether it's getting your first contract, or signing with your first agent. Writing is tough. Getting it just right is tough. Waiting around for people to get back to you even though the time they said has already passed (I'm not bitter!) is tough! The nerves are killer, the level of honesty you have to have with yourself is brutal, and for most of us, the money's lousy.

So why do you do it?

And I don't mean why do you write, because I am assuming that underneath everything, you all write because you love to write.

Why do you work so hard to take the commercial route?

For me, I have that far-off dream of being a bestseller someday. Probably won't actually happen. But I really really want to see my book in print and on a shelf at B&N. I want to have fans. (Probably because I'm my own biggest fan. Ha!) I want people to love the story I told. And not just family and friends, I want LOTS of people to have the opportunity to read my book.

Why do you do it?

And what are your goals? I have lofty dreams, but real goals? Here are my two. I want my book published in hardcover and I want to see it translated into another language.

As far as I'm concerned, the rest is just frosting.:)



Michelle Zink said...

Great post, Aprilynne.

I think we all need to be reminded to enjoy the journey without focusing TOO much on the end.

After all, someday when we're rich and famous (heh), we'll look back on these quaint times with a smile...

Have a great weekend!

Nathan Bransford said...

Thanks so much linking to my blog! I really appreciate it. And I'm so glad you were able to find great representation, even if it wasn't with me (I'm starting to sound like Progressive Auto Insurance). Love your blog.

ORION said...

I find so many writers want to have written a book but don't enjoy the writing process. There are people who want to be authors without the other stuff that goes with it.
I can't not write.
(If you think about it that sentence does make sense!)

Michelle Zink said...

That's how I feel, Pat.

In fact, I always think of a conversation that ocurred on WN.

The poster asked, "When do you know it's time to stop writing?"

There were lots of answers, but the one that stands out in my mind, always, is this one; "Go ahead and quit - if you can."

That's how writing is for me. Like breathing.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating. I'm not a writer but I can see the sense in loving what you do even if nobody else sees it. I love what you do! ;) I think you will get your two goals...and I will help build your fan base!

Go You!

Trina Rubert said...

Reading your book was an amazing experience Aprilynne. I loved your characters, I mean really loved them, felt with them, and fought with them. The ending was superb. Emotional too.

Anonymous said...

i love the name of this blog!!! frosting is a good thing :}=

~Em~ said...

I write because if I don't I'll simply go insane. I don't really have a choice in the matter, really.

brian_ohio said...

Nice! Just what I wanted... a slap in the face! Ah!

Boy, thats stings, but it was well intentioned.

You speak words of wisdom, Aprilynne. Sounds like you have your heart in the right place... in your chest. Hah!

I'm guilty of... if I could just get a requested partial, I'd be happy. If I could just get a requested full, I'd be happy.
I've had both... I'm a little happy, but I want so much more. Must remain level headed... just as you stated.

Thanks. And I think you dreams will come true. Good things do happen to good people.

Kiskadee said...

Well, I've gone the journey, "played the game" (it sucks!) and here I am starting all over again, so there must be something to it that keeps us going!
What you said is worth repeating again and again. The journey isn't over by a long shot when you've got that agent and that publisher; as my ex-agent used to say, staying published is harder than getting published!

Demon Hunter said...

Loved your post! I think all of us writers have lofty dreams but we need to be realistic as well.

I write because I love it! And I want other people to love my sick, twisted thoughts as well! LOL! Writing, getting an agent, getting published, and beyond is truly an arduous journey. I'm loving every minute of it!

Heidi the Hick said...

Right now my goal is just to get these two projects good enough to land me and agent!

Long term, I want to see my hardcover books on shelves...and open in people's hands.

If I made enough so that I don't have work in a convenience store, and the kids and horses and dogs and cats get fed, I'll be soooo happy!

I'm really learning more and more that the writing really is the easy part. I really do have to write though, or I go really bad-crazy. And I love it. So I'll keep on writing!

TunnelVision said...

Great post, Aprilynne.
Keep writing.