The other day I asked, “Does my book The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez have to sell like Stephan King novel in order for me to consider it a success?
Well, if those are my guidelines, then I hate to admit it but as an author, I am probably going to be eternally frustrated and disappointed with my career. (And that’s not the way I want to live.) After all, when you look at the math, of all authors in the world – yep, in the entire world – my sales rank in somewhere near the top 2%. That puts me in the 98th percentile of writers everywhere… and I sell nowhere near what Stephan King sells. I mean he’s in the top .0001 percent of all authors so it really only sets me up to view myself as some sort of loser if I hold unreal demands/expectations for my published works.
Of course, do I want to sell a book that flies off the shelf like Misery or Carrie or Pet Cemetary? Uh hello? Of course I do. What author doesn’t? But, as mentioned, right now I am sitting in South Texas where I will have addressed hundreds of teens before the day is over at a school district which just purchased 900 copies of The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguezsimply for my visit today – and still they ran out of books, not having had enough for all the kids (and their sisters and brothers and relatives) who want to score a copy now that they have heard the reviews and word-of-mouth has done its magic by travelling far and wide.
Does that sound like a reason to be bummed that I never hit the NY Times list?
The point of these past few posts has been that as writers, one must know your audience, do your best, set your book free and allow things to work out the way that they will. When I really think about it, it’s an author’s nature to always want more.
We want to be published. And then when we are published, we want to be well-reviewed. And then when we are well-reviewed we want to be a best seller. And then when we are a best-seller we want to have a movie made of our book… and then we want to write the screenplay and win an Academy Award.
And then, should we happen to achieve all of those things, what do we want? We want it to happen all over again for our next book and our next book and our next. And if any story we dare publish doesn’t rise to this height of success, we feel slighted, disappointed, underappreciated and even despondent.
I ran across a great quote the other day by Joe Konrath. It said, “Do you know what the word is for a writer that doesn’t give up? It’s called ‘published’.”
But once you get published, should everything thereafter be heartbreak?