Page 47 - Vol. VI #10
P. 47

 do regardless of adversity or outcome, and after all, when all is said and done, we did break the publish- ing barrier. We have in our possession the book itself. Something real. Something solid we can hold in our hands and take to the grave if we must. In fact, we both have a whole bunch of our own books to take to the grave, enough almost to bury ourselves in.
first novel were peaked at best, she is unable to ne- gotiate a good advance. When I divide the amount of money I receive by the number of hours I put into the actual writing of the book, I am working for slightly less than twenty three cents an hour. This is before subtracting for my agent’s commission.
Originally listed for $15.95, a year after my first novel is published, it’s remaindered for the rock- bottom price of fifty-two cents a copy. At that price I buy a couple hundred and store them in my closet in the boxes they arrived in. The rest wind up in the bargain bins at Walden Books, Borders, Dalton’s, Crown Books and Barnes and Noble, and when they don’t sell there, they’re returned to the paper mills where they’re ripped to shreds, boiled in
For the real writer, however, money is not the point. It would be nice to make enough to pay off some of the bills I accumulate while working on the book, but to write, unless you’re independently wealthy, is much like taking a religious vow of poverty and obedience, only instead of to God it’s to one’s art. Nonetheless, I am thirty-one years old now and see this as another great break for me. And around this same time, my writer buddy also places his book with a big New
York publisher. We’re hopeful again. We’re back in the game. Everything is falling neatly into place for us, and even though I’m a little jaded from my last experience, I’m still pleased. The graphic designer does a great cover, and a few weeks after the uncorrected proofs of the book are sent to the major newspapers and maga- zines for possible reviews, I get a call from my editor.
huge tanks of chemicals and recycled back into the mushy wood pulp from which they were made. But I try to look at the bright side. Perhaps the world’s next masterpiece emerges from the toxic fumes of my words as they rise, in wisps, dissolving into the
“I have some good news and some not-so-good news,” she says. “Which do you want to hear first?”
“Thirty-eight rejections has a way of
humbling a person, especially us sensitive, artistic writer types. . .”
universe as if they never existed.
I ask for the good, believing it will help soften the blow of the not-so-good.
 My friend, he’s more creative than me, stacking the remaindered copies of his novel into neat columns in his living room next to his couch. He makes a coffee table out of them and places a thick sheet of glass on top. If not for the clutter of ashtrays and empty beer bottles, you could see the many rows of his colorful book jacket, his name plastered on each and every one.
My heart speeds up. This could be the beginning of what the industry calls a break-through book, the one that puts the writer at the top of her game. I hope so anyway. I pray it is. But I have to ask the next question.
My second novel is rejected fourteen times. This is a considerable improvement over the dismal track record of the first, especially considering that the times have not changed. New York still has a strangle- hold on the publishing industry, but instead of taking over a year for my agent to place my book, it happens inside of six months, when she reaches the “M’s,” as in William Morrow. Morrow is a bigger, more powerful publisher than my last, but because the sales of my
“I know you lost your first editor,” she says. “But you really don’t have to worry this time. I’ve already talked to the guy who’s taking my place, he read your book over the weekend, and he told me he loves it to death. Trust me,” she says, “you’re in great hands.”
Book Two
“Well,” she says, “I heard through a very reliable source that you’re getting a front page review in the Sunday Los Angeles Times Book Review.”
“What’s the not-so-good?”
“I’ve leaving Morrow,” she says. “No, you can’t go.”
I try, for once, not to think of myself.
“Did you get a better job?”
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