Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Thanks

The events of last week were sobering. I was taken a bit by surprise and the delay in my response was due to not wanting to make things worse. That was perhaps not the best choice, nevertheless, I would like to thank all those who offered their support, and those kind and courageous enough to publically voice regret about earlier comments or emails. I am not proud of my part in all this either, so I hope we can all look past our mistakes and stay friends.

This brings up an interesting thought in my mind--the idea of success.

I didn’t write a book, get an agent, and a month later land a major deal that saw my first book on the bestseller’s list. The fact that my path was slower to a point of ambiguousness, I think is perhaps better. Through my minor advances I never experienced that moment of “wow.” I eased into things like a person slowly wading into a pool. So slowly did I advanced that I am unaware that I am even in the pool.

Prior to Orbit’s announcement, many other self-published or aspiring authors have indicated a certain acknowledgement of my “success.” I never felt successful--not really. I failed for ten years to get published. When I did it was with a tiny, unknown company who was unable to print my second title and who ultimately felt a second printing of my first book was not worth it. After that I was just another self-published author (back in the day when that was a bad thing--back in the day being six months ago.) I sold more than some and less than others. I got a foreign deal and that made me think I might be doing a bit better than most, but still it wasn’t something to pin on my breast pocket and boost about.

The deal with Orbit is big. For the first time I felt I might have done something worth really being proud of (at least in the literary sense.) In some ways I think I might have been too proud of it. The fan smack down I received diluted the sense of self satisfaction I was developing, and in all honesty, I think that was a good thing. I’d rather get smacked occasionally than become a arrogant jerk anyway. Last week helped remind me that I only managed to have a publisher offer me a contract. This in no way dictates success. In all likelihood my books will be remaindered six months after they hit the shelves, and that will be the end of my writing career. So as much as I would like to think this contract is a big deal, it isn’t. It is only one more step into the pool.


The thing is, having waded into the water so slowly I never realized how deep I was. I knew there were a few people who liked my books, but I felt the vast majority “liked” my books--meaning they said they liked them to be polite, or because they felt sorry for me. I stood for three hours in a Barnes and Noble doing a signing once and had a man come up and offer to buy one. I asked why and he replied, “I feel sorry for you standing here all day and no one buying anything from you, and it is only a few dollars.” You hear this sort of thing enough times and it sinks in. Until this outcry, it never occurred to me that so many people were so invested in these books, that they really liked them. I suppose that was the majority of my shock. I really didn’t think anyone cared that much. Not only did I not expect people to be upset, I didn’t expect people to even notice. The idea that, because the books were all finished the series would be released in a timely fashion, was little more than a joke associating myself with the big names in this industry with whom I had nothing in common. I’m not Martin, Jordan, or Rothfuss, I’m not in the same universe. They delay a book and I can see an uproar. I delay a book and all I expected was for my neighbor to give me a dirty look. I just never knew how far into the pool--how successful--I had actually become. (This still boggles my mind a bit).

Like all good friends you reminded me who I am and you never would have been upset if you didn’t care. That means a lot, even more than a contract from a major publisher.

A few of you have asked specific questions about the series in comments and emails, and I will address them in my next post. I just wanted to get this up in order to let everyone know how much I appreciated their comments and support.

One last thing. I think it says a lot about my audience that despite the opinions posted, no one chose to insult, or demean anyone else, even when they clearly disagreed. And Libby even made a comment to point out the guts and heart of those willing to publically apologize. I’m not sure how I can take credit for that, but somehow this makes me feel good about myself.

Thanks.

9 comments:

  1. You need to give yourself more credit, Michael. The books are wonderful, and your writing matures with each. I'm sure the three-volume set will benefit from your edits, with the perspective you now have on the books and those characters - and the world they live in.

    Thanks for the forgiveness to those of us, myself as much as any, who gave you the blast. Without turbulence the world would be a lesser place, but it is better to ride on it than in it.

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  2. Yes, Richard is 100% correct. These books are wonderful. And you should be happy you have such a strong fan base. And that Orbit has picked you up as well. :) I really do wish you the best. And hope all goes as smooth as pie for you. :)

    Thank you.

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  3. Stop blogging and go buy yourself a bottle of bubbles and a top-hat. A contract with a big publisher is something that should enable one to throw humility out the window for an evening or two, no matter what the circumstances.

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  4. Bubbles and a top hat? Granted I never thought of that.

    As for humility, I'm not kidding, I really never considered my writing to be any big deal. I suppose if I was surrounded by an entourage and chased by paparazzi my head would grow a hat size, but instead I have a daughter who only occasionally slips and makes the mistake of admitting she likes them.

    And in case you haven't noticed, that previous post is the record holder for comments. usually there are only one or two, so of course I assumed only a handful of people read this blog with any regularity.

    But after this little outburst, as far as the impact of these books go, even I am starting to realize that I might be doing better than I thought.

    Not too long ago anyone who reviewed these books always began with "not bad for a Indy" or "what a surprise, for a self published book." Everything was qualified like I was a child and they wanted to be encouraging. But last week people here treated me with the same attitude as readers treated Rothfuss when he delayed his book release.

    So yeah, looks like I might have been wrong. Maybe I have "made it." That's the thing about writing though, perhaps about all the creative art fields, there's no diploma, no title, no discernible finish line. You just wake up one morning and find a bunch of people are mad at you. Granted, I think I'd prefer a pleasant little plaque or something indicating I've succeed...but this works too.

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  5. I didn't even realize that you were an indie publisher until I went hunting for the release date for Percepliquis. I purchased The Crown Conspiracy as an ebook on Amazon because of the reviews and have not regretted it one bit. I now own all five books and have read all of them in last two weeks. I eagerly await the release of Percepliquis and hopefully you have plans for more novels in the future.

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  6. I downloaded Avempartha to my kindle in November because it was free and it had good reviews. Four months later I finally got around to reading it and within days had downloaded the other 4 books ... for $$. I don't normally buy books for my kindle, I don't normally search for more info about authors on the internet and I most certainly don't go around commenting on their blogs. Clearly your work has made a huge impression on me! Congratulations on your deal with Orbit. I will definitely buy the physical books when they come out.

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  7. Michael, I want to thank you by bringing us a good story and characters we can relate to and really care about. Every time another book of the series is released I can do nothing until I finish it. I have read all five of them aloud to my wife (who is very shortsighted and cannot read for prolonged periods of time. We both love Hadrian and Royce! Best wishes to Robin and you; nice to see you´re doing well. Rest assured, even if you weren´t successful, creating an entire universe in your mind is a rare gift. Thank you!

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  8. Totally agree with Kristen I usually don’t do it either. And pop here I am. I dragged my 5 hardcopies of Riyria all the way through Europe down to Iran in my hand , as an idea to wait out between Tad Williams and Joe Abercrombie. After finishing Williams got my hand on looong fresh new series of Yours. 4 weeks passed (Im not a native english reader as You can tell reading my babble) and I frantically started to search for 6th piece. Books are more than great and more than worth of waiting for. Keep it up. And thanx for the feast already served.

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  9. Great Post! You are as honest as your books Michael. Loved the series. Can't wait for the last book of the series, and I hope you will write many more books for Orbit. And I know how it feels, when hard work finally pays off. So follow Tokrikas advice, it is well deserved.Best wishes from germany.

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