The Monkey Gunking Up The Whole Works, by Deb Eve

brownwaite_smallI’m not really sure what myths I believed about publishing before I published my book. No doubt, I thought pretty much what I have always thought about most of the hard things I’ve ever had to tackle in life. If you do your absolute best, put your heart and soul into it, persevere, think positively and be nice – then things will probably turn out pretty well.

I still believe that … about most things in life anyway. But what I’m learning is that when it comes to book publishing, all bets are off. See, I’m beginning to figure out that there’s a piece of the equation that I never accounted for and it’s a piece that can throw a monkey wrench – heck a whole monkey – into the works. Because you CAN write the very best book you are capable of. And you CAN obsess over it for years refusing to let it out into the world until you feel it’s just perfect. And you can get a great deal with an excellent publishing house AND hire a fabulous independent publicist just to give you that extra push and you CAN work your tail off saying yes to every event and taking advantage of every opportunity to promote your book that comes your way. And you can say please and thank you to everyone you meet along the way. (I do believe in the importance of being nice. I do!)

But you just can’t control what you can’t control. And when you’ve published a book, there’s an awful lot of things you just can’t control. Things like the economy (stupid). And what – and who – you have to compete with for your piece of the media pie. You just cannot control whether or not people are going to plunk down their scarce dollars to buy your book.

Maybe that’s the myth that’s being debunked for me now. The myth that I’m in control of anything that happens once I finish writing my book. Come to think of it, I’m not even in control of what I write most of the time. With memoir, you really have to stick to at least some version of the facts. Maybe that’s why I’m trying my hand at novels now. Finally, something I can be in control of! Yeah, I’ll write a novel. I’ll show ’em who’s boss!

And if that works, I’ll try bossing around my kids next!

It’s frustrating (being an author AND being a mother), but they’re still the best jobs I’ve ever had.

~Deb Eve

P.S. Anyone going to be in Rhode Island this weekend? Join me at Other Tiger in Westerly from 4 to 6 today. And at Book and Tackle in Watch Hill from 1 to 3 tomorrow. It’ll be fun!

7 Replies to “The Monkey Gunking Up The Whole Works, by Deb Eve”

  1. The utter lack of control is the most stressful thing about this business. In other professions, though you’ve got randomness and unfair jerkfaces making life difficult, there’s still a sense that hard work and talent will get you ahead in the long run. (Maybe the VERY long run, but still).

    But in publishing — and I imagine the same is true of other artistic fields, like acting, performing, visual arts — it’s all so subjective not only to the opinions of the gatekeepers but the reading/viewing public, and how to get your title in front of them in the first place is still somewhat random and hard to pin down.

    It’s a tough pill to swallow that your book can be at its most brilliant, but it’s just not always enough! This is when the Serenity Prayer comes in handy (“… and the wisdom to know the difference.”)

  2. I PROMISE you’ll start to feel better about all this stuff. I went through this exact same thing. But you have more books in you. You do! And you HAVE been successful! But, um, maybe you better have a chat with me before you start your novel. There’s less control in that process than you think!

  3. As a bookseller, I understand your feelings completely. People will come in droves to buy a book that really has very little literary or historical (or whatever!) merit, but, as much as we may try to display and hand sell books we like, customers don’t always agree with us. And they can be swayed by covers, titles, moods, etc. that have very little to do with a book’s merit.

  4. I know that feeling, Eve. Sometimes I look at my computer screen and think, “There must be something I can DO right now that would make a difference, somehow.” But at the end of the day, I guess the cookie crumbles as it crumbles.

    Do you want me to mail you some wire hangers so you can get your Mommie Dearest on for a little while?

  5. This industry can be so fickle… but I honestly believe if we keep writing really good books, it’ll pay off. It may not happen quickly, but it will happen. And I love the idea of trying to boss around kids — if you figure out how to do it, will you let me know?

Comments are closed.