One More “Perishing” Thought…

By Neal Comment

We got a lot of mileage out of last week’s comments on Elizabeth Royte’s NYTBR piece on coping with pub cycles. And we weren’t the only ones: Susan McBride of the Liptstick Chronicles had a rather unsympathetic reaction to the article as well. Both of us eventually heard from Royte; here’s what she wrote to Galleycat late Friday afternoon:

“I’m one of those happy writers with no complaints about her publisher or publicist, and I’m the author of that essay… I wrote it because I was interested in the curious things that happen in an author’s head (not necessarily this author’s head)—and how s/he starts reacting to outside attention—as the book is being promoted. My intent was not to slam publicists, in-house or out. They do their jobs—hard work! But it seems a book’s financial success is largely out of their, or anyone’s, hands.”

If there was a recurring theme to the reactions here last week, though, it may well have been the degree to which financial success isn’t out of the hands of writers who are willing to approach the business side of being a professional writer with the same commitment they give to the creative side. I’m not talking about big stacks of coin you can dive around in like a porpoise, burrow through like a gopher and toss up and let them hit you on the head, but enough to collect decent advances, maybe even start earning some royalties…at the very least, to be a decent enough performer that publishers will happily consider investing in you a second or third time. Now, you can probably do all that and still succumb to “the curious things that happen in an author’s head,” like checking your Amazon rank and speed-dialing your publicist for constant updates, but… I suppose it’s all just a matter of expectation management, really.