Sunday, February 25, 2007

fiction crash and the dollar value of a writer

Measuring success




The clock is ticking.

(edited to remove whining.)

21 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

This is all very frightening. For an even scarier scenario, read Sandra Scoppetone's blog. How could an author of many, many books not even get an agent to read her newest? Why am I even contemplating trying to get into this racket?

anne frasier said...

wow, patti. that is sad and frightening.

Christa M. Miller said...

That our self-esteem is tied to the value of our work may be the dark opposite side of our coin... do we value others' opinions of us and our work that much, that we keep trying to get published where more confident people are happy to contain their thoughts in private journals?

Hugs to you, Anne. Sorry you feel this way.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Anne, I'm thrilled you have confidence in the forthcoming title. And that you're still in there, hanging on. I believe in you. XO

Daniel Hatadi said...

I suggest finding any Adam Sandler movie and fast forwarding to the scene near the end where the guy goes, "YOU CAN DO IT!"

Failing that, take Bluto's advice from Animal House and start drinking heavily.

Seriously, very much looking forward to the sequel to PI, which could very well be the beginning of the 'new wave' of Anne Frasier.

cindy said...

i think it a creative people thing to feel that way, when even when you have accomplished amazing works like you have. i'm sorry that you are feeling like this, and that your income has dropped so. i was in a bookstore this past week, and i saw a couple of your books, and brought them home. i am almost finished with 'hush'...i love it so far!

Bill Cameron said...

There's nothing wrong with pipe dreams--they don't all go up in smoke, and if we don't dream it, we never give it a chance to become real.

The definition of success varies from person to person, of course, and the definition of success will look different from the inside than from the outside. Authors who are barely making it financially, or not making it all despite great apparent outward success may be seen as very successful to their readers and fans. Thin gruel, perhaps, when you're trying to meet a mortgage, but ultimately any success we have is existential first.

Still, it's probably surprising to many to learn that their favorites may not be read by agents or editors any longer, or may not be able to make ends meet as authors. I remember reading not too long ago about John Straley having a hard time finding a home for a thriller, and he's someone I view as one of the best crime fiction writers of the last 10-15 years. It shocks me to see that.

In a way, I guess I'm lucky, because my pipe dream had to smolder for so long that by the time it turned out to be more than smoke, I already had to figure out other ways to meet the mortgage. So the dream remains particularly ephemeral for me. I'd love to make a living at it, but I don't expect to. Reality says it's too unlikely. In fact, sometimes I'm so convinced it's unlikely I don't even care for myself. Yet I do find myself wanting it for the people who've taken a chance on me: my agent and publisher. Yeah, they're in it for the money, but I feel like they're genuine people who really want to see me succeed, and not just in the financial sense but also in that larger, existential sense. They're good people, I believe, so I want it for them.

I'm going to write anyway.

anne frasier said...

christa and sandra, thank you. this post came across more negative than i'd intended, but i seem to be good at that. :D i know almost everybody else is in the same boat -- it's the sad state of the book business -- and i don't have a huge problem with moving. it just kind of brought home how different things are now than they were a few years ago.

daniel, haha! i love those early adam sandler movies. the drinking heavily doesn't sound like a bad idea either.

anne frasier said...

cindy, thanks for reminding me that creative people tend to feel this way. you are so right. i think we get in dramatic slumps, then a day or two later everything seems fine.

i'm so glad you're enjoying hush!

bill, it's definitely all relative. i think because writing is my only means of support and it's the only thing i know how to do, i get in a panic sometimes. i see Times bestsellers who can't get contracts -- it's a different world. i think it's very hard for most writers to support themselves writing. didn't used to be that way. and even though i don't want to be under contract right now, it always makes me nervous when i'm not. i get a little nutty. :O

bekbek said...

I think Daniel has really hit on something, though I'm not sure he has realized it.

Choose one of your books -or perhaps several, combined, but that's more work- and rewrite it as an Adam Sandler movie script!

LOTS of money. He'll get to pretend he is "doing something new," and you'll rake in the dough.

jason evans said...

I really wonder whether books will ever capture their former glory. The thing I keep coming back to, however, is what can replace them? Even movies start with a written script. Storytelling isn't going anywhere, but how will it come out in the future?

As for you, you aren't a failure until the clock stops ticking and you find you didn't use your time doing what you believed in. You're a fighter. You won't have regrets.

anne frasier said...

jason, i don't think books will ever capture their former glory. for so many reasons. the internet, blogging, politics, time... i think major publishers have been hurt by the once successful one size fits all books. they can't let that go, even though readers are tired of it. i think we're going to see a much bigger gap in pay. most writers will be getting 5 to 10K per book while a few get a million.

anne frasier said...

bekbek: lol! you are my muse!
i've been invited to write an entry for a new blog called MY BOOK, THE MOVIE. i couldn't come up with actors for PI. you and daniel have inspired me! adam sandler. but i'll have to pass on drew.

Kelly Parra said...

Hey, Anne, you're not a failure. The fact that you're still fighting means something. You have written stories that I could never forget. PLAY DEAD and HUSH are stories I will never forget, and now with PI and the sequel I think you're entering in a new stage of your career. As long as you keep writing, I'm still reading. :)

Bill Cameron said...

Since PI:2 Tuonela Boogaloo is your best yet, then I believe it's the gonna mark the upswing. You've got great crowds of folks like me who can't wait, and we're gonna do everything we can to make it huge!

bekbek said...

I'm telling you, my career as a curmudgeon is really on the rise: I do think boooks are pretty much dead.

In this society.

Write something for a foreign audience. Do some traveling, pick some great locations, and write for them. Books are still all the rage in other societies.

Here? *shrug* We're a generation away from kids that say, "printing press? What's that? I learn everything I need to learn from my preacher."

Still, there is Adam Sandler. I'm telling you, there's something there...

...something dangerous.

anne frasier said...

thanks, kelly. i don't feel a failure on an artistic level. i guess you might say i've not done so well on a business level -- the part that's outside writing, but is still connected to it. i made a lot of really poor decisions over the years.

bill, thanks. :)

bekbek, i've got a call in to adam's people.

Heather Harper said...

Sometimes I wonder if the people left purchasing books are us writer folk. ;)

I attended my very first conference ever in Florida. It was the CFRWA chapter's first, aptly titled "Magical Dreams." Cheryl Anne Porter was the keynote speaker and I will never forget her speech. (Or her, she passed away a few years ago from cancer.) I left that conference ready to finish an MS and get my a** published.

The conference took place the weekend before 9-11. That paralyzed my writing for a long time. But it didn't squelch my reading habits at all. If anything, I read more to escape reality.

And I'm sorry about the $$$ concerns. Those suck.

Hulles said...

A) I very much believe in you. B) I can't wait for Electric Boogaloo. C) Cindy, if you would just pay for those books you took home Anne wouldn't be feeling like this right now. D) You, my dear, have the winter doldrums. We need to have a party.

anne frasier said...

heather, i think you might be right about writers being the only readers left! writers will always read, but the general public's reading habits have changed drastically. the first year after 9/11 fiction sales dropped -- okay, my memory is fuzzy -- but i think it was 18%. people kept saying the market would rebound. the next year it dropped around 17%, so the two-year combination was around 30%. publishers kept waiting for that rebound and it never came. it's not coming, and they've finally realized it. i haven't seen any new figures, but fiction sales have continued to slide. i'd really be curious to know the percentage drop between 9/11 and today. i wouldn't be at all surprised to find it was 40% or more.
this was partly a domino effect. when the crash came, publishers had to tighten their belts, fire editors and publicists, cut back on advertising and promotion and print runs, so sales continued to drop, this time due to what was going on inside the house.

a

anne frasier said...

hulles,

too funny!

and you're so right about the winter doldrums.