Follow-Ups

I wanted to thank everyone for the great comments and discussions from last week’s posts — even the people who disagreed with me ūüėȬ† Based on your comments, I wanted to follow up on a few things.

Booksignings: I’m annoyed at myself.¬† Rereading what I wrote, I looked at a number of factors, including the financial, the¬†sneezers, and so on, but I completely omitted one of the other reasons I do these events — to connect with my readers.¬† Eight people made the effort to come out to Nicola’s Books to see me and get me to sign their books, and I came back and wrote about how sometimes booksignings don’t feel like they’re worth it.

I feel like an ass on this one.¬†¬†I love getting to meet and talk to my readers.¬†I’m grateful to everyone who took the time out of their night to drive out and see me.¬† The other factors I discussed are important too, and I still need to figure out how to prioritize my own time and energy, but I apologize for ignoring this part of the booksigning experience, and for any hurt feelings that may have resulted from that.

Publishing Lottery: I wanted to address something that came up in a handful of the comments.¬† When I say every “successful” author I’ve met worked her or his ass off to reach that point, that does not mean:

  1. Working hard guarantees or entitles you to success as an author.
  2. If you have not succeeded, you are either lazy or you suck.

I don’t believe I ever said or implied either of these things, but they came up here and elsewhere, and¬†I thought them worth responding to.

Every successful author works hard =/= everyone who works hard will succeed.¬† A lot of the people I’ve seen who stayed with it and committed to improving did eventually break in, but there are no guarantees … except, perhaps, that if you don’t do the work, it’s nigh impossible to build that career.

I’d also say that most of the time, books and stories are rejected because they’re not good enough.¬† (See Ann Leckie’s post for the potential traps in “good enough.”)¬† This doesn’t mean that good books are never rejected.¬† Goblin Quest [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy] was rejected more than 30 times.¬† Not because it was a bad book (I hope).¬† Not because I was unlucky.¬† But because it takes time, research, and work to get a book to an editor who loves it.

Are there good books that never find a home?¬† Of course.¬† Good books get rejected.¬† So do an awful lot of bad books.¬† The thing is, when I was first starting out, I couldn’t tell the difference.¬† I believed, like so many new writers, that my stuff was good.¬† Like so many new writers, I was wrong.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t believe in yourself.¬† You have to — otherwise, where do you get the confidence to submit your work?¬† But don’t let overconfidence turn you into that guy.¬† And always work on making the next story even better.