Monday, April 25, 2005

Draining your energy?

Jordan posted a comment: Is there a danger that the immediate gratification will dilute the energy and drive to get on with the book?

He was talking about giving your energy over to writing shorter pieces when in fact your interest is with a longer work.

I'm sure there is that danger, Jordan. I have so many things going on in my life (continuing promotion of Pen on Fire; editing The ASJA Monthly; teaching two private workshops and an online class with Gotham, beginning tomorrow; my radio show; working on a new proposal; writing a novel; my family; article deadlines. I know there's more but I fear my brain is frying and I can't remember what it is.

I just don't know what to cut out--my ongoing lament. I enjoy everything I do. In an ideal world, what would I keep and what would I cut out? Would I quit my editing job, quit teaching? It's an ongoing puzzle; I don't know.

I think that's a continuing challenge among all writers. How to prioritize? What to move to the top of your list, what to kick off?

When you've written a book, it's to your advantage to continue to do promotion. One way is to do articles that keep your name before readers. It is more immediate gratification, and yes, it can be draining. But what is the alternative?

You can go on, write the next book and say screw it, let the publisher keep my book alive. But it just doesn't work that way. Those days are over. Writers have to help keep their books alive and if it means not only working on books but working on articles, too, so be it.


Jordan said...

If it's possible to cram 8 lives into one, it appears you're doing it. However, it's the last paragraph that seems to raise a "red alert". In reading and speaking with published authors, it would seem that publishers are acting more and more like glorified printers. Publishing is to make public and all that that implies.
The relationship of writer to publisher should be one of shared responsibility. The writer should do his/her best to write a book that sells. The publisher should then sell it.
That is not to say that the writer should not cooperate, but that the publisher should take the initiative.
It might also be wise, in certain cases, if the writer didn't show up at all.

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett said...

Print-on-demand publishers are printers, in my view. To play the devil's advocate, Jordan (though I hate that term), when a book publisher decides to publish your book, in effect, someone has made a decision to take a huge leap of faith on your behalf.

Therefore, why shouldn't the writer take part and do what she or he can do sell their book? In what other business does an investor put out the $$ and smile grandly as you go about doing another project? I can't think of any.

jordan said...

Well, of course the writer should take part. I believe I said the writer should show up (although in certain cases it would probably be best if he/she didn't)but should not be pre-occupied. It's up to the publisher to take the initiative in protecting its investment.
My attitude is in direct response to hearing it said that if a book doesn't sell in 3 months it goes back to the publisher. What kind of nonsense is that? That's hardly enough time for word of mouth to do its job. Or is my information wrong?

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett said...

Yes, it's quite unfair, Jordan. But you figure, new books are coming out all the time and if the ones on the shelves aren't selling, back they go.

Publishing is the only industry I can think of in which a store has 90 days to pay for stock or return it.

jordan said...

This is the trap that American retailing has been allowed to create over the past 30 years. It's called guaranteed sale and again we see a lack of responsibility in making a judgement or decision. This is probably due to rise of the chain store and the fall of the independent retailer - of anything. The chain says you either sell to us on our terms or you probably won't sell to anyone. It started with Crown Books and the publishers knuckled under.
The benefit to the publisher is that it doesn't have to maintain much of a sales field force. If there are as many titles being "printed" each year as I'm led to believe then we have that old joke on our hands - i.e. if you throw enough you know what against the wall, some of it is bound to stick. Of course I could be wrong.

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett said...

Oh, it's daunting, isn't it? But you figure, when 60,000 to 75,000 titles have the possibility of making it into the bookstore, on what shelf will they sit if the ones not selling take a hike? Jordan, here's one solution: I think you should open a bookstore.

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jordan said...

I would in a minute if the publishers promise to take back all of the dogs.

jordan said...

So you see - I'm just as irresponsible and cowardly as the next person!

jordan said...

So you see, in the end I'm as irresponsible and hypocritical as the next person. It's wonderful to be human.

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett said...

Just so you know, Jordan...I deleted the above comment because the comment just above it posted twice.

jordan said...

Editing is the life blood of writing.

pishydish said...

i like the title of this BLOG--Draining your energy--because it seems to me that engaging in long conversations with Jordan and his "special friends" does exactly that--drains your energy.

Give the Teach a break jordan, you get to harrass her bi-weekly as it is.

Your depth and wisdom are far reaching, as a commentator on the human condition and life as it is, i would be curious to know your solutions to fix the problem as opposed to merely pointing them out. Now that would be a good article for a magazine.

I will go in partners with you if you open a bookstore. You can be the financial backbone and i will run it.

Jordan's Jumbalaya of Mojo and Good Books (we could sell tacky voodoo stuff and bottles of hot sauces and t-shirts to make up for the slow book sales)

jordan said...

Sorry for not replying sooner, Pishy, but I've been caught up with the latest Louie LaMour book. Yes, been giving serious thought to the bookstore and couln't hope for a better partner. We could call it SOB - Special Order Books.
We would stock no books thereby saving ourselves the trouble of shipping them all back after 90 days.
We could furnish the joint with comfortable chairs for our customers to sit in while awaiting delivery and serve them fish tacos and cream soda as an added inducement. By the way - is bi-weekly twice a week?