Looking At Investment in Your Career From Another Angle

December 15th, 2004 · No Comments
by Booksquare

Just moments ago (in Internet time), we posted a link to a series of lovely letters from authors to the publishing industry (particularly their editors). MJ Rose suggested we visit Mad Max Perkins to continue the discussion. As we don’t know Max personally (but have it on the best authority that he’s a stand-up guy), we opted instead to visit his blog*. Mad Max (we’re not sure if he prefers to be known as Mad or goes with the first name-middle name affectation. We’ll err on the side of too much.) has entertained what would formerly be called a modest proposal. Except probably that’s been overdone.

The topic relates to author investment in their own careers. The proposal begins with a to-be author considering making a substantial financial investment in his career, a la James Patterson. Mad Max’s answer is most telling when he says this about the proposal:

There are those who’ll debate such a scheme on principle, speaking in indignant tones about how it’s the writer’s job to write the book and it’s the publisher’s job to publish it. Perhaps that’s how things ought to be. But the potential cost of such a perspective, especially if something misfires in the publication of those first couple of books, is almost always going to be far greater to the author than to the publisher; publishers are infinitely better equipped to weather the failure (say) of an individual title than is the writer; and when booksellers check their computers for sales histories on prior books, it’s not the publisher whose name they’re searching for.

We know we have many readers from the romance genre — it is said that romance authors are natural self-promoters (probably reason number eight on our list of why we haven’t succeeded: shy). Romance authors, while the backbone of the publishing industry, rarely receive major publisher support. They’ve taken the DIY concept to new heights, and it shows as their careers build. Now we’re not saying we need more bookmarks (just enough to keep us going) or magnets (okay, we’re saturated) or pens (well, one can never have too many pens),but romance authors also do public speaking, workshops, online chats, and we’re sure Jill will come up with something unique — she’s that kind of person.

Yes, what we’re saying is that investment doesn’t always mean cold hard cash (though Mad Max notes you should give to your career to the best of your ability…sort of like contributing the max amount to your 401k, even though it seems painful at the time). If you don’t have the financial wherewithal, you surely have the creative wherewithal. Let’s face it, your publisher will never have the emotional commitment to your career that you have. This is a sad fact, but must be said. You have the power to take control, and we insist you do it. Now.

In the meantime, we will work to conquer our overwhelming fear of self-promotion, despite the fact it’s far too early in the day for a drink.

* – Which you, potential author, successful author, agent, and editor should be doing every day. Especially if you’re in the latter two categories — he’s looking to start an open and anonymous dialogue about this industry we all love (some days more than others).

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