Monday, May 4, 2009

It's All About Control

Oh my goodness gracious. I haven't posted a while here, because my life suddenly went berserk.

Not only did I have a book release this May, but it generated all kinds of amazing buzz, plus I've been trying to market it a bit (writing blogs right and left).

Plus there have been icky distribution problems (Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie is well stocked at B&N and Wal-mart! Please support them!)

And on top of that.... Page proofs, then copy edits, then more page proofs, plus a ms. or two to finish and submit.

I never knew being an author was this crazed.

I feel like Yoda saying: If you're not afraid now... you will be.

Anyway, it's been an exercise in learning what an author can control, and what she/he can't.

What you can control:

1. Writing your book.

2. Being professional (doing your job; whether that means turning around your copyedits on time, doing market research to find a publisher/agent; showing up to promote your book, etc.)

3. Taking care of yourself.

What you can't control:

1. Distribution (see "icky" above)

2. Print run of your book (despite the happy articles of the romance market going up; still there are problems with orders and returns, and booksellers are ordering fewer books).

3. Where your book is placed and in what stores.

4. Your cover. (Authors have some say in covers; but more and more publishers are refusing to give authors cover approval.)

5. Reviews. Ya sends out the review copies, and ya takes your chances.

6. Word of mouth. Either readers will like it and tell their friends... or they will not (and tell their friends).

7. Distributors going out of business. Anderson News closing their doors in February was a huge blow to the publishing industry.

8. Bookstore returns. Almost all bookstores decided, at the same time, to get rid of excess inventory, which meant massive returns to publishers. What will this do to authors' sell through (percentage of sales to books printed)? I shudder to think.

As you can see, there is a lot in the publishing industry authors can't control at all. I am not going to pretend it doesn't suck. It truly does suck!

What can we do?

1. It comes back one more time, to writing the best book you can. Cream does rise even with all the many, many problems that have suddenly cropped up in the industry.

2. Get a team of people on your side to get you through. Writing really doesn't happen alone. We like to think we're individual geniuses, but the truth is, it takes a village to become happily published.

A good team can consist of: a great agent; a supportive critique partner or group; an assistant (I don't have a full-time one; though I do have a part-time long-distance assistant who helps with my website and reminds me to enter contests and so forth). Friends--both authors who get what you're going through, and non-writers, who can pull you out of your mad obsession for a few minutes.

Gather your team and give them chocolate.

Take care of yourself and feed your creativity.

Pay attention to what's going on in the marketplace, and don't walk blindly into publication ("I got published; my career is now perfect.")

Stay sane.

I can't say "you'll be fine," but you might just survive. :-)


Alexis Walker said...

And yet we still do it. We still continue to write and deal as needed with all the quirks of the industry. Maybe a psychologist should be part of the team. Then again, if we did have said professional, we may be convinced we're crazy to continue, or worse yet, to give it up!

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

A psychologist! Yes, that would be a good addition. Or at least a counselor. :-)

Michele said...

Great advice!
Congrats on the good kind of crazy and Poo for the 'icks' you've had to deal with.

Me..I've not written a new word in awhile..not in a WIP anyway. I'm one of those 'reviewers" out there though.
But I'm a nice one.
But you'll never know because we're anonymous.

And chocolate is good for pretty much everything... celebrations and commiseration.

Since time is flying..
Happy Summer Time!