Our converation was something like:
Me: It would be nice to get some random, epically awesome news.
Her: I know. It seems like every day a new award or list comes out, and we're not on it.
Me: I know. Sigh. And where are my foreign sales?
Some version of this conversation plays out once a week. Man, is it easy getting sucked into that mentality. It is SO easy to focus on what's not happening-- bestseller lists, movie deals, foreign sales, ALAN/YALSA lists, awards, etc. Becuase for other people? Those things ARE happening. So why can't it be you?
And yet, here's the thing: I've sold 7 of my own books. #4 and #5 come out this year. PRADA & PREJUDICE is in its 6th printing (and has earned out) and YOU WISH is in its 3rd (Edited: Just found out YW is in its 5th printing). YOU WISH is on track to sell more books in 1 year than Prada & Prejudice will in two.
The problem is being an author-- being published-- isn't a destination. You never "get there" and then feel as if you've made it. There will ALWAYS be a bigger deal, a better selling book, an author who seems to have it all.
When you're unagented, you think, "If I can just get an agent...."
And when you're agented, you think, "If I can just get a book deal..."
And then... "If it just sells a few copies, I'll be happy,"
And then... "If it just goes into a second printing...."
And then... "If I can just sell another book...."
And then.... "If the second book can just sell better...."
The hardest part of being in this career is that you can control what you write, but you can't control how well you're published. Or even if you are published. You never quite reach the carrot on the stick, becuase what you want never stays the same.
Becuase the thing is, of course you're going to care how well your book sells. Its your book. your baby. And of course you're going to freak out if your cover sucks. Or if B&N stocks it. Or if you're a one-hit wonder.
And you're always going to think someone else has it better. The downside of so much social networking-- blogging, tweeting, etc--is that you can actually SEE what other people are doing. you can view their good news in real time. And you can drive yourself absolutely insane.
2007 Mandy? She would run a marathon in Prada heels to get to where 2011 Mandy is. But publishing is so bloody slow, you have plenty of time to think about what you want next--before your first book even hits shelves.
Someone once told me "Satisfaction is a dirty word." I always thought that was stupid. If you can't enjoy what you have, what's the point? But then I got into publishing, and then I understood. I understood what it was like to feel like it was never enough. I understood why people became workaholics. I understood how hard it is to be satisified in this industry. As an agent, it makes me a better agent. I hear a bunch of nos, and all it does is strengthen my resolve to keep going until we get a yes. But as an author, it can be maddening.
I've changed some things. I bought a big glass vase, and whenever I have something to celebrate-- a new book deal, a foreign sale, etc--I pop champagne and i write on the bottom of the cork what I was celebrating, and drop it in the vase. Seeing that-- seeing that I've had things to celebrate in my career-- reminds me of my accomplishments.
Not that I'm satisfied, or anything. ;-)
So here's my question for you guys: Do you feel like you'll ever be satisfied? Do you think it's about being ambitious/driven-- or do you think its unhealthy? Do YOU think you'll ever feel as if you've "Made it?"