Tuesday, March 04, 2008

whining

I have the flu. It started on friday with severe body aches. Saturday I got a cough and started to feel a bit hot. My neck hurt. My head hurt to cough. It hurt to move my eyes. By Sunday it was a full-blown fever and chills. My blanket was on. Then off. Then on. Then off. AAA!!! I couldn't get up off the couch. Monday was no better. For the past few days when I've gotten up in the morning my clothes were soaked. Today I had to go to physical therapy and on the way I started to feel really sick... started to excessively sweat everywhere... I thought I was going to pass out on the train tracks. When I got home I got more emails about my book that's due. Anyone with a 9-5 job gets to call out sick. I work at B&N on Monday and I called out. When you call out you don't have to worry about the job! You're home. Safe and sound. In your bed. With your box of tissues. When you're self-employed you're expected to continue working with a 100-degree temperature.

Excuse me for whining! But really. Without authors THERE WOULD BE NO PUBLISHING. And there would certainly BE NO AGENTS. Give me a break. An agent should allow an author to whine all he or she wants. Otherwise what are they good for? My agent said I could whine to her and I appreciate it.

What infuriates me more than anything is that there are so many people in publishing who just DON'T GET IT.
1) we never get a break. We work at home which means we are surrounded by our work 24/7.
2) What Linda said - when you break down the hours per check we make almost nothing per hour.
3) no health benefits
4) publishers notoriously don't pay on time. good luck with the rent because you might get that check in a month... two? three? I can't even count the number of times that I've run out of money and had to put the rent on a credit card.

So you might spend a year... or two... or three on a book and finally it gets published! Yay! Oh, but wait, it isn't in stores. It hasn't been publicized. It isn't going to sell. How can an author possibly get his or her book out there compared to what a giant business comprised of thousands of people can do to publicize a book? I'm sure there are arguments that an author can do a lot but I think unless you're independently wealthy or making books is a hobby for you then you won't have the time or money or energy to publicize.

Why don't we self publish? Oh gee, I don't know why. Let me think. Because self-published books don't get anywhere! Maybe some friends and family will buy it but that's about it. Book chains won't buy it. Reviewers won't review it. Even asking that question is silly in my opinion.

In all honesty I love what I do but it's also complete misery. Why do I do it? Because I don't know what else I'd do. I'm in some sort of awful trap and there's no way out. Yes, I may be extra whiny because I've got the flu and have a book due which = STRESS but that's the way it is. I'm not going to apologize for whining and any agent who expects an author to PRETEND like everything is okay is crazy.

meghan

p.s - this is obviously in response to Alvina's post but I'm glad she posted it and I don't blame her and since the agent in question isn't available to respond I know it's not entirely fair to rant... but I have the flu. that's my excuse.

10 comments:

Don Tate II said...

I really, really appreciate your honesty and openness.

Linda S. Wingerter said...

Meghan! We are sharing the same virus, and possibly whining is a symptom.

I love your honesty and openess as well. Feel better soon, sister.

christine tripp said...

Can't add anything to what you have written here Meghan other then publishers should be grateful that most authors just whine. They could be asking for television time for their book, their own trailer and only the red M&M's with perrier water!
On a personal note I have actually never whined to or at my publisher over promotion. I have however whined and then screamed about royalty payments that are half a year or more LATE! After 4 teenagers I have learned to only sweat the big stuff:)
Get better soon, my cold is almost gone, I blame my illness on NYC and recirculated air on planes!

Libby Koponen said...

I'm sharing it too (the virus: for those who are interested, we think we picked it up rollerskating). I also have a Monday deadline. I love your honesty and openness too and your spirit: it doesn't sound like whining when you write it. Write on! And get better.

sruble said...

I hope you feel better soon Meghan!!!

Stephanie

Linda S. Wingerter said...

Was it REALLY the rollerskating???

Anonymous said...

I was recently told by my agent that there were so many persons lined up who wanted to be published that no publisher took protestations seriously.

...and an illustrator I know was told if she wanted to object to late payments there were ten other illustrators that would be happy to take her place.

Sigh...

christine tripp said...

>and an illustrator I know was told if she wanted to object to late payments there were ten other illustrators that would be happy to take her place.<

I've heard that too and to that I reply, "take my place not getting paid??? I wish they could!":)

alvina said...

Just my two cents: it's awful that publishers don't pay on time. Then again, authors and illustrators often miss deadlines, too. The people who cut payment checks get sick, too. And I know in my company the payment request has to go through at least 4 different people, so the likelihood that one of them is out of the office at any particular time is high, which is usually the reason why payments are delayed--but it should NEVER be delayed by more than a week or two! And I can't believe they'd admonish you for asking to be paid on time! I would think that would be the publisher's goal, too.

Carolyn said...

Do we have to call it whining, amongst ourselves? I prefer venting. Venting (within reason) CAN be a good thing. Remember Mt St Helens? That's what happens if you keep it all in. I work with very, very nice people, perfectly honorable, etc. I love what I do and I know how it goes... but, but, but. It's hard not to feel bad when things get tight, as they do now and again. And again... Hard not to feel like a chump, or a flop, or (insert your own pet fear here.) Even harder to set aside those fears so you be calm and reasonable and get through necessary but awkward conversations with no hard feelings on either side. I like to go for a walk (in sight of Mt St Helens, as a matter of fact) and rant a little and clear my head. (When will I learn? When?) I always end up in the same place. I like what I do. The good times outweigh the bad and they will come again. (I'm sure they will. Pretty sure. Almost sure... ) Uh-oh, must be time for another walk.

Thanks for this honest discussion. Nice to hear from all sides.