(Before I begin, may I remind you that today is 2007 Debutante Mia King’s release day for TABLE MANNERS, her third novel? Longtime Friend of the Debs Larramie is featuring it at her website, The Divining Wand. You can even win a signed copy! Or visit Mia’s website.)
My go-to reference whenever I’m talking about success in publishing is the Rich and Famous Contract. If you’ve ever seen Muppets Take Manhattan, you’ll recognize the phrase. After the Muppets debut their hit Broadway musical, the big producer orders “the standard Rich and Famous Contract.”
And the odds of being called in front of Oprah for one’s literary achievements are roughly the same as being handed the Rich and Famous Contract.
The vast majority of people think the publishing business is friendlier and more lucrative than it actually is. You can tell by the way people will ask, “Can I get a signed copy?” when what they really mean is, “Will you give me a free signed copy?” I’ll blur the details to protect the innocent, but let’s just say a significant figure from my past who ought to be very interested in my book (and supporting it) asked a version of that question. (Luckily, not to me.)
People tend to assume that getting published means you’re instantly living the high life. It’s just not true, folks. I already posted about the dollar sign end of things (here), but now let’s get real about the fame bit.
Think of your five favorite authors. Now imagine calling a restaurant and giving one of those names to hold a reservation. I’m just going to assume your first try is, “I’d like a table for Katie Alender.” Well, I’ve tried to get tough reservations with my particular name, and let me tell you, it doesn’t do much. In fact, here in LA, the best strategy is to use the name of a casting director—since the hosts and servers are all actors.
So I’m not riding on parade floats or being ambushed for my autograph at the mall (well, okay, at Target). I can probably name on three fingers the authors who do actually find themselves in that situation, and one of them is Stephen King and one is Anne Rice and one is living in a castle full of house-elves somewhere in England.
But here’s the kind of cool part—thanks to the internet, an author might never know that her influence is confined to a small sphere of readers. Because, using tools like email, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc., people actually get in touch with you just to say they liked your book! And they email you and ask questions and they tell you which part they liked best and how they can’t wait for your next book to come out. And it’s all incredibly flattering and thrilling.
What is being famous, after all? People seem to crave it, though it’s such a strange thing to crave—for instance, I just read an article about how Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen from the “Twilight” movie series) can’t even walk the streets of New York without being dangerously mobbed. You often hear famous people express their wish that they could just be normal, anonymous, blended in. (Of course, then they go out for a night on the town in a glorified tank top and “OOPS! Forgot the panties!”, but that’s neither here nor there.)
My theory is that people think fame is about connecting. On some level, we all long to connect with other people.
Poor Robert Pattinson isn’t connecting with anybody (except that taxicab that hit him last month as he was running from a mob). But me? I may not have the Rich and Famous Contract, but I get to connect every day! I’ve met so many wonderful people—authors, bloggers, readers, fans—and it all started with my book. For that, I couldn’t be more grateful.
So Oprah, if you’re reading this, yes. If you call, I will come to your show and talk about teens and maybe even jump on the couch if you aren’t looking.
But if you don’t call, I have a feeling I’ll be just fine.
PS – BIG NEWS at the Debutante Ball! We’ve announced the Class of 2010! Click here to read all about the new Debs!
PPS – Are you following the Debutante Ball on Twitter? Well, why not, silly? Click here for daily reminders of what we’re blogging as well as special edition news tweets!
PPPS – Oprah, if you’re still reading, just kidding about the couch. I’ll behave. I promise.