Monday, May 02, 2005

Last Girl Dancing -- Why Should I Care?

  1. It's a damn good novel (at least the first 2 chapters, and that's a very good sign) and it deserves to succeed in a big way.
  2. Holly is a very good writer that also deserves a lot better than she's gotten.
  3. I owe Holly. I owe her a lot. Anyone who is a member of Forward Motion owes her. She has spent her entire career giving of herself to those of us less fortunate. Now it's time to give a little back.

Writers are victims. It's built into the vocation. If there is anyone who is not in control of their fate, it's writers. Editors, readers, peers, the price of paper, we are at the mercy of forces far beyond our control most of the time. We sweat and bleed and cry and toil through dark days and cold nights to get our vision into a form that is accessible to the world. Then we send it out and watch as it lives or dies, often seemingly at random.

Here's the victim part. Whatever happens -- a tornado destroys a printing plant in Kansas, the publisher allots too little money for publicity, the cover art is atrocious, Stephen King's latest is published the same day as our little offering -- whatever happens, we have to take the blame.

Book publishing is all about the numbers. Sales numbers and return numbers. When contract time come around, the only thing that matters is how many copies of our last book sold and how many were returned. Did we earn out our advance? Did we sell enough of the first printing for the publisher to make a profit? What percentage of pre-sales were returned for credit by the sellers? Reasons don't matter, only numbers.

Yeah, that sucks. Unfortunately, there's nothing to be done about it at this time. It's pure and simply the way the business works. All it takes is one not-so-successful book, and our careers tanks. Over. Done. In Hollywood, they call it "box office poison".

Yeah, it sucks. It sucks that someone as talented as Holly might have to become someone else to continue her dream. It sucks that this other person may become fabulously successful, while "Holly Lisle" will be forever remembered as medioicre, or even as a "failure". Anyone who has read even one of her novels can attest to the fact that she is far from either of these. If a writer this good can face this kind of crisis, what hope is there for any of us? There just ain't no justice in the world of publishing.

If it hadn't been for Holly Lisle, I would not be writing today. I am only one of many who can say that. Without Mugging the Muse and Forward Motion, I would never have found the courage to put my words onto paper; I would never have found the courage to submit my work to strangers; I would never have had anything published or seen my dream slowly, painfully slowly, but surely coming to life. Holly has given me life, as least in my writing world. I must do whatever I can for her when she needs it.

This talent, this forward-giving patron saint of modern writers, must have our support. We cannot afford to lose her vision, lest we all stumble blindly into oblivion.

3 Comments:

At 10:54 PM, Blogger Michelle Miles said...

You are so right. Sometimes I think writing is ludicrous.

 
At 9:43 AM, Blogger Demented M said...

The writing is okay, the business is nuts.

Nicely put Carter.

M

 
At 2:16 PM, Blogger Carter said...

As I and many others, including y'all I'm sure, have pointed out: writing is not for wimps. You have to press forward with cast-iron balls and a "Damn the torpedoes" attitude, knowing full well that you're dangling over the abyss on a fraying rope. If it weren't for the intangibles, it really wouldn't be worth it at all.

 

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