Friday, July 24, 2009

Perception vs. reality...

You spend a lot of time on the Internet, right? You read the blogs. You maybe even check Amazon rankings and chat with bloggers and some authors. You have a good idea what books are hot right now and what authors are on the way up, right? You know the editors and agents who are hot too, right? Who is making the big sales? Who is a dream to work with?

Or do you? I'm betting unless you are REALLY close to those authors (like you are their mother or their accountant), you don't. Because perception and reality in the book business are very different things. And, sit down for this one, sometimes people lie! I KNOW it is shocking, but I can honestly say at almost every conference I have been at I have heard some editor or agent telling the audience "how it is" and I can turn to any number of authors present who know that isn't the way it was for them with that very same editor or agent. I've also sat at innumerable conferences and heard people supposedly in the "know" talk about how such and such book was a huge success and how such and such promotion got it and the author to the top of the pile, while I know that book tanked and the author is about to go into the author protection program...better known as taking on a pen name.

I had a really hard time with this whole concept for a long time. I would stupidly wander up to authors and say something like "Wow, you are doing great." and then wonder why they stared at me as if I had just fallen off the turnip truck. Yes, they had a book on the table in front of them to sign, yes they had received a lot of chatter online and great reviews, but they knew the reality--and it wasn't the glamorous fame and fortune lined path I envisioned. And then I've known authors who got no chatter--OR got slashed by online reviewers and seen them sign contract after contract, selling book after book...BUT, BUT no one liked their book...HOW could that be?

Uh, yeah...

I've also listened to over eager newbies bubbling about how wonderful such and such editor or agent is and how they would DIE to work with them because said agent or editor could tell a good joke...uh, okay, but when she won't return your calls, or forgets to submit that proposal you probably won't be laughing...

Again, yeah...

So, how gullible are you? How much chatter do you take as fact just because, well people are chattering? Do you believe everything everyone says because they are sitting behind a table at some conference or do you leave with that big grain of salt completely intact? If you are an author do you let any of this affect you--for the good or bad? Or do you tie on the blinders and steam ahead?

How far apart do you think perception is from reality? Or am I the one lying now? Hmmm?

6 comments:

Patrice Michelle said...

Hmmm,I think the blinders come off the longer you're in the business. Nothing beats first hand experience.

Patrice Michelle said...

And really...isn't that how we should be (hopefully) viewing all things career related? Not starry-eyed but with the knowledge we've learned to help us make informed decisions? :)

Casey said...

I used to believe it all, Lori. But then, I was young and dumb. I know better now. I think my blinders came off the day I found out an author who'd gotten fabulous online reviews wrote all those reviews herself, under assumed names, of course. These days, I don't pay attention to any of it. It's chatter and it's hype and none of it means a thing. But then, we make up stories for a living, don't we?

Lori Devoti said...

Oh, Casey, that is beautiful! She wrote them herself...Okay I know authors who do that, but still it is funny! I also love the ones who take over loops and pimp each others books while acting like they don't know each other so it looks like it is THE book to read/that everyone is reading...or say "my book is in its fourth printing" but don't mention each of those printings were approx. 1,000 copies each...or...Okay, I will stop.. ;-)
And, Patrice, sometimes I would like to be just a little bit starry eyed...just a little. :)

Teresa Bodwell said...

Oh, come on Lori. You're starry eyed. No?

All I really know for sure is the book business is insane. It is a business of course and people are trying to sell books. But I'm not convinced anyone really knows why one book sells and another doesn't. But there are a lot of theories and those theories lead people to do crazy things that may or may not work.

Jess Granger said...

It all comes back to what you can control. I can keep writing, I can keep trying to get better. Whether I'm good or not will be up for debate. But I just got to keep trying to do what I can do to keep the old noggin above water.