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.