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The Naked Page

Author Jamie Sobrato's Diary

4.05.2006

Next Exit: Insanity 1 Mile

I hope you all didn't hold your breath and pass out waiting for me to produce the other half of my last blog post. Let's see, where did I leave off...oh right, I was just talking about how you will feel when you don't win a Rita but instead find yourself sitting in the audience at the award ceremony doing the loser's smile, clap, and nod routine...

Soon after, you will decide the Rita Awards are unfairly stacked against the kind of book you write and that such a goal as winning an award is pretty shallow and fruitless anyway. You will assure yourself that there are no sour grapes involved in this change of heart, and you turn your attention to other more worthy goals. Like becoming a New York Times bestseller and stuff.

More time passes, and you sell some more books. You start thinking you should be writing "bigger" books, and maybe you attempt to write one. Or three, or five, or ten. Maybe you sell one or all of them. Maybe you decide to get an agent, or dump your current agent and get a different one, or you become paranoid thinking all agents are parasites and decide to hire your pot-bellied pig to represent you in all future book negotiations (stranger things have happened in the publishing world).

(And for the record, I do NOT think my agent is a parasite or any other sort of blood-sucking organism. She is thoroughly goddess-like in all the ways that matter and a few ways that don't.)

I should probably have a way to wrap up this entry, but I don't. Because I am only in the middle part of the beginning of my career. How the hell should I know what goals I will obsess over next? My point with all this is that I've never met an author who feels completely satisfied with his or her literary lot in life. There is always the drive to achieve more (if we weren't so driven we would never get published in the first place--it takes both delusions of grandure AND a huge drive to succeed to make it past all that rejection), and with each success comes additional pressure.

From hearing New York Times bestsellers talk, I truly believe they have more pressure on them than any other authors out there. As the stakes rise, so does the pressure to be a success, and to build on each success. There's a lesson in there somewhere, but I'm not sure what it is. Maybe to learn to live in the creative moment, or something. To judge success by how happy you are with the work you've done, rather than any external factor out of your control.

Oh shit, I'm getting off topic here. The original point of this was supposed to be something about how our goals changes as our careers progress. Me, I'm probably somewhere in the middle of acheiving the "I just want to sell steadily and earn a decent living" goal.

Beyond that, there is the moon and stars--and of course let's not forget the NYT list.

11 Comments:

At 12:02 PM, Anonymous melissa said...

I decided a long time ago that all contests are stacked against the type of book I write, so I quit entering them and it's saved me a lot of money. :-) I mean, I can just imagine what the average contest judge would say about my characters getting it on by page ten. But that ms caught Kathryn's attention, and what's cooler (or more important!) than that??

 
At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Cindy Procter-King said...

Melissa, I've had the same problem with one of my unpubbed manuscripts--I need to cut off the entry before the phone sex occurs. :) This manu has finaled and won contests as a category but since I revised it into a single title it got a lot of attention from agents (although not an offer), but it's yet to final in a contest. And I don't want to enter it in the erotic romance categories, because they never feature the editor finalist judges I'm targeting. Yet Abby Zidle of HQN gave me a great rejection on the partial, basically saying no to reading the full because of how stuffed the ST market is right now--makes it very tough for newbies to break in.

Yesterday I received the editor finalist judge's comments for a short contemporary that came in second in the Jasmine. The year before a Desire editor requested the full manu from a contest win (and then left the company; the editor who read it rejected it), but this editor, although she gave me two great compliments, thought the beginning was a little slow. So I need to work on that. That she didn't request it doesn't bother me. The manuscript no longer suits the new guidelines for Desire and I have no earthly idea right now what I'm going to do with it.

I still enter contests from time to time, but there aren't many available that I can enter, b/c I'm an epubbed author. Most of those I can enter, the deadlines are in the spring when I have NO cash. So, like you, I'm saving myself a ton of money by not entering!

Good luck with Kathryn Lye. I've yet to actually write a Blaze. Single Titles and now Brava novellas stole my attention. I don't think Harlequin likes me anyway. Like you with contests, it's best I stay away from them.

Cindy

 
At 7:43 AM, Anonymous bethany #1 said...

My take on contests is this- winning or finaling means something-you have something good, but not winning doesn't mean much. You could have a marvelous book that does not do well in contests.

My favorite singers, Thom Yorke, Kurt Cobain, Billy Corgan, Trent Reznor, Robert Smith- wouldn't have made it past the auditions on American Idol, but every one of them has had an enormous impact on music and huge hits. . .

That's all the brilliant insight I can come up with, baby and I are eating left over chinese for breakfast and watching the Wiggles.

 
At 10:51 AM, Blogger Jamie said...

Smart philosophy about contest, Bethany. And it's very true.

 
At 5:58 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Er, um, I meant contestS above. That's whatI get for drive-by posting.

Melissa and Cindy, one of my favorite rants is about how sexy books have the odds stacked against them in contests. They evoke strong reactions--either people love sex or they think it's EVIL.

 
At 6:29 PM, Anonymous bethany said...

Hmm, well maybe it WAS contest-singular since my brilliant philosophy might have been inspired by my one and only contest entry which,tragically, I did not final in.

 
At 6:33 PM, Anonymous bethany said...

Oh, and there was no sex in mine at all, though there was the projectile-vomiting of gummi bears, which some people might also find evil (or offensive) which just goes to show it takes all kinds of people. . . some don't like sex, some don't like vomiting of whole undigested see through squishy candy.

If I had to choose between the two I'd take the sex, so you guys would win my contest! If I had a contest.

 
At 4:54 PM, Anonymous Kim said...

I think that if you're writing anything truly fresh, then the odds are stacked against you in contests.
The judges won't know what to do with it.
'Course that's what I keep telling myself.
(Mine had a masturbation scene in chapter 5)

 
At 9:35 PM, Blogger Tim said...

Kim... i haven't entered that many contests (okay... ONE... the Takahe short story contest in New Zealand a couple years back)... and from what i've read from other writers (including those here) even if you write what you normally write, it may not make a difference. So what's a writer to do? Anything they want. :-) Just keep writing. :-)

 
At 9:51 AM, Blogger Diana Peterfreund said...

You know, I once read an entry about hte projectile vomiting of gummi bears and I loved it and gave it very good scores....hmmmm...

 
At 2:38 PM, Anonymous bethany said...

hmmm, it is a small world, because only one judge ever gave that story good scores. . .I thought everybody got 3 judges, but no, it was a discrpancy thing. I believe that the one perceptive judge pointed out that it wasn't a good manuscript to enter into contests. And that, I realized was absolutely true.

 

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