Publication: Is The Grass Always Greener?

Say you work very hard on your manuscript, you get a recommendation from a published friend that lands you an agent, and that agent happens to have lunch with an editor who then decides to buy your book. You did it! You’re a published author! Now what?

Some aspiring writers believe that as soon as they get that phone call from their agent saying someone has offered them a contract, their life is set and all they have to do from there on out is attend signings and conferences and write the next book. Sometimes, this isn’t the case. In fact, I’m willing to bet it’s never the case, even if you’re someone like Stephen King or Stephenie Meyer. Some days are going to be great! You read a fabulous review of your book, receive a royalty check, and get a call from your agent saying the movie option for your book is now under contract. Other days? Not so much. A 1 star review on top of a low (or non-existent) royalty check and dead silence from your agent and your editor can make you start wondering why in the world you work so hard if you’re not really getting anything in return.

Jody Hedlund, author of inspirational romance, posted on her blog about what happens after publication and the struggle many midlist authors go through on their bad days.

Before publication, most of us have dreams of what we think being a published author will be like. And the more we rub shoulders with other writers and fan the flame for publication, the larger our dreams become, until we’ve made being a published author into this HUGE, BIG deal—perhaps bigger than it really is.

Isn’t it that way with most things out of our reach? We long for something. But the more it’s denied us, the more intensely we want it. And we start to think it will be SO fabulous when we finally get it.

Our expectations grow with our longing, until eventually, our expectations are slightly (or maybe greatly) out of proportion with reality.

She makes some excellent points and although I’ve seen some of them made before, it’s always good to read these reminders from people on the other side of the fence that the grass isn’t always greener.  I searched around Jody’s blog (which you might want to do as well) and also discovered a post on what to do with reviews. Using examples from user reviews on Amazon, she shows you how contradictory the feedback you get can be:

About the romance:

“The scenes where the husband and wife are falling in love with each other are a little intense. Nothing vulgar or across any lines, but enough to make me blush at times.”

“I soured on inspirational romance in part because I didn’t feel it dealt realistically with the physical attraction between men and women. The tension and desire between Priscilla and Eli in The Doctor’s Lady, however, is tangible. Jody handles it so tastefully that even people accustomed to the hand-holding-only atmosphere of other inspirational romances won’t be offended by it.”

About the hero:

At first, I didn’t particularly care for Eli. I thought him crass and kind of a jerk.”

It didn’t take me long to fall in love with Eli’s strong, but gentle ways. Wow, he sure sounded like a hunk.”

About the story development:

“I was bit disappointed. Not completely, because I was very impressed with Jody’s writing, and I will definitely pick up more from her. The Doctor’s Lady isn’t about the Whitman’s mission with the Nez Perce. It’s completely about their journey to the Nez Perce . . . I was just hoping there was more of the plot actually involving Native Americans.

I love every part of this book: the adventurous journey, the interaction with the natives, the beautiful description of nature, the struggle and courage of the characters, everything!”

About the ending:

“Although the end is predictable, the journey there is heart-wrenching and engaging – never flat.”

“By the end of this book you feel things coming together and I felt like I could just explode in emotions and tears of joy and I was sad that it had to come to an end. This is one of those books that although you are satisfied with the ending, you are disappointed that you are done reading about the characters that moved your life!”

Comparing my first two books:

“After disliking Jody’s first book, The Preacher’s Bride, I was pleasantly surprised by Jody’s second book, The Doctor’s Lady, and I enjoyed reading it very much.”

“This is a good traditional romance, and while it lacks the power of Hedlund’s first novel The Preacher’s Bride, it will keep readers hooked to finally see Eli and Priscilla admit their love for each other.”

What in the world are you supposed to do with such dichotomous comments? Jody reminds writers that “Everyone will view a book through his or her own worldview glasses. Our religious beliefs, values, expectations, personalities, likes/dislikes—all of that will come into play for how we experience a story.” You always have to keep this in mind or you’ll go crazy trying to get EVERYONE to like your story. It’s not going to happen. Ever. To anyone. Just look at the Twilight series if you want proof. Sure, it’s blasted its way to the top of the charts in both movie and book form, but for every thousand people who call themselves Twihards and fill their homes with Twilight memorabilia, there are a hundred others who spend their days writing articles that “prove” Edward is abusive, Bella is an idiot, and Stephenie Meyer is trying to tell everyone that girls are weak and need to be protected. And the more fervent her supporters got, the more furious her naysayers got. Trust me. I first read Twilight back in 2006 and I watched from inside the fandom as the negativity mounted along with the positive reinforcement. It would be enough to shake anybody’s confidence.

My point? Concentrate on the things you can control–your work and your outlook. The future and all the good and bad it will bring shall come eventually. Hope for the best, plan for the worst, and try to be happy even if you end up somewhere in between.

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