I may not be doing myself any service with these initial posts. First, we’ve learned I’m selfish, and now I’ll admit to being petty and jealous!
I think as authors we all want to celebrate each other’s successes. After all, what’s good for one of us is usually good for all of us. J.K. Rowling brought lots of people across the world into reading and for that we owe her much. To an unfortunate lesser extent, Stephanie Meyer did the same. While I’m hopeful many of the dollars generated by their book sales went to fund new and upcoming writers – unfortunately, to date, I am not one of those authors.
I’ve previously self published and am strongly considering self publishing two adult manuscripts (under the name associated with this blog, Ann Benjamin). My YA books are very niche. They are all centered around marching band. I’m not the first person to write about band geeks, nor will I be the last. In the small corner of YA band geek books, there are authors who have gone the traditional route, found an agent, got a publisher and are not a one person show like I am. As each of them comes along, to fanfare and a fancy release date, I usually reach out in some way and say something along the lines of, “Hey – welcome to the club, us band authors need to stick together.”
The response is usually
I know, poor me. The “successful” authors don’t write you back. Who cares. Grow up, move on.
So, I do – but part of me wonders – do they get my stuff and not care? As a struggling author, I feel there is strength in numbers. While I’ve been continually neglected by one group, I was also fortunate to form a close friendship with a few others who self published. We recognized that while having a similar topic (marching band), it would be rare that our audiences would overlap. Therefore, if one of us got publicity, the rest of us would as well. If one of us had a good idea, he would usually share that idea with the others. Without the safety net of traditional publishing, as cliched as it sounds, we found strength in each other. And while this didn’t occur to me until just now…my ‘team’ is all men and those who went the traditional route and don’t respond are all ladies.
When I consider my goals for writing – yes, there is a big part of me that desperately wants an agent. I think of these other authors who have neglected to even send a response in my direction. Is it timing? Do they care? Will I be the same one day? Does being traditionally published give you license to ignore everyone else in your (very small) genre? I look at my competitors and watch their sales – for the most part I keep even with them. I don’t sell in bookstores, but when it comes to Amazon, my books keep up with the professionals and that makes me proud.
So, dear reader, where do you fit in? Are you genuinely happy to see agented authors gain success? Or, does part of you smirk happily when your rank is higher?