Milestones are what and where you find them for as a writer progress is often difficult to gauge. Getting published, hitting the bestseller list, or landing the Noble or Pulitzer Prize are obvious junctures in a career but the pinnacles aside the rest of the rungs can be less apparent. When I was first shopping for an agent I received a call from a woman who had just received my query letter—not my book, not the first chapters, just the letter. She said she wished to discuss if I would be willing to promote my novel on the various nationally televised talk shows such as Oprah and The Tonight Show. If I was okay with that they would be willing to send me a contract.
I’m not an idiot.
The moment I hung up I did an extensive Internet search on the crazy person who just phoned me. Turned out her contract would required me to pay her $3000 a year for the privilege of having her as my agent. I passed. That was the last time I harbored dreams of kicking back with Mr. Leno or one of the network morning shows discussing the relevance of post-modern medieval fantasy literature and its continuing positive effects on the cyber-society. I lost many dreams over the years it took me to bring my books to print, not the least of which was the idea of supporting my family with the proceeds. I must admit I never really expected to jet across the country appearing on talk shows, but I did think an author could make an eating wage. Such issues as this I have learned to frame properly with the understanding that writing fiction can’t be about the money. I have met aspiring authors hoping to make it rich with a fiction novel and wonder at the color of the sky in their world.
The vow of poverty aside, there are many rewards in this vocation and they often come from the most unlikely places and often in the most unexpected packaging. This week I discovered to my great surprise that I, Michael J. Sullivan, Author, is on Wikipedia. I actually have my own page complete with history, books, and references. As it turns out this is not as trite as one might think. Apparently, the folks that police Wikipedia are strict for several new authors I know have attempted to establish pages and had them promptly removed. It would seem, just being legitimately published does not cut it, there is some sort of “reason to exits” clause, meaning that the article needs to be noteworthy to the public, I would presume to avoid people from posting just anything. Having authored a book is not enough to warrant recognition. As it happens, I’ve learned my page has been there a while and does not display a flag or warning of imminent removal. From this I have deduced, that at least as far as Wikipedia is concerned…
I must be someone now.