As parents, we are often faced with a small child who wants a cookie, a treat, or to do something we don’t agree with and wouldn’t normally allow them to do. The ensuing temper tantrum often leaves the parent with a headache and the desire to do whatever it takes in order to stop the noise. Yet, we also know this bribe will lead to more and more demands that will eventually leave us in a position where we must say “No.” At that point, the child, believing they have the parent firmly in hand, will demonstrate they are quite capable of driving their parental unit over the edge.
Standing strong against such demonstrations of stubbornness is difficult. Far too many alleged experts have chimed in on this subject, saying it doesn’t hurt the child to get a reward in order to sate their desire to have their own way. Yet, these experts have no answer on when to stop handing out bribes nor do they take any kind of responsibility when their advice creates a situation where the parent must be the bad guy.
As an author, I’ve been a witness to the phenomenon of other authors kicking and screaming figuratively until they get what they want. At first, it’s the desire to be treated as if they are the only person who has written “The Great Novel.” Their desire to have perks other authors don’t receive begins with often subtle suggestions that they have no need to do this or that, or that they need the publisher’s often overwhelmed staff to deal with their promotional work.
Once they have whined and screamed until their desire is met, they usually move on to the cover art. It’s not right. You need to combine this element of picture A, with that element from picture B, and finally the font must be this color and in that size. No matter how many times they are told that isn’t possible, this author will stubbornly and with increasingly angry emails force the issue until they have worn down the publisher and agreement is reached.
Each successive step becomes more and more of a pitched battle with the publisher, until said author is literally demanding the sun and moon on a silver platter and they won’t move forward to the publication of their book until those demands are met.
What we have here is a child (the author) who has won cookies and candy from the parent (the publisher) until said child knows that if they continue to act in this way, they will get what they want. These authors have developed the attitude that despite having never been published, or only having a few books available that haven’t reached the status of well-known celebrity, they are worthy of attention lavished upon authors whose names are bandied about by the public. They ignore those who have walked the rocky and thorny path of name branding, claiming they are the next Steven King, J.K. Rowling, or Lisa Gardner. They are fixated on how they will replace Tom Clancy, Robert Jordan, or Isaac Asimov without lifting a finger to attract readers to their novels.
As with the child who has received undeserved rewards in order to do what they should have done when first told no, these authors have reached the meltdown point where they will be screaming and kicking their heels against the carpet to get their way. They will be amazed when everyone walks out of the room and they are alone, without an audience to witness, in their opinion, their justified tantrum to get their way.
The reality is that as an author, you will have to spend the first five to ten years branding your name, stumping with thousands of other authors to garner attention from the reading public, and constantly restructuring your promotional tools to get attention for your books. All of this must be done while also writing your next novel or scheduling your next appearance. No longer do publishing companies offer authors large advances for untested individuals because the book looks wonderful. No longer do publishers book authors on year long tours where they are feted at fancy dinners, interviewed on major talk shows, and set up for signings in the major bookstores.
Those days are gone forever.
Today’s author must jump into the slimy trenches of name branding and promotion, often unprepared for the vicious warfare already ongoing. The least slip means hundreds of others will climb over you while you lick your wounds and wonder what you did wrong. As you watch these other authors marching away, ready to tackle the next obstacle, you have two choices…
Do you scream and wail for your publisher to get out here and pick you up? Or do you squint, mutter “no way,” and take off to overcome those ahead of you, driving forward until your name is a household name and your books are selling.
A note: your books might start selling at a slow but steady pace. That is the norm. It will still take more time and a lot more trenches to slog through before you start that upward journey to superstar status.
About the K.C. Sprayberry
Born and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond.
She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Those who know her best will tell you that nothing is safe or sacred when she is observing real life. In fact, she considers any situation she witnesses as fair game when plotting a new story.
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