Five Non-financial Rewards of Publication
by Cindy Jones
It took me seven years to reach the point where my work attracted the attention of an agent, and another seven to get from the agent to the publisher who finally cut the advance check. Spread over fourteen years, the proceeds of my writing career have been sufficient to feed one goldfish once a day. Obviously, I am not in it for the money. The secret, I am convinced, is to write faster. But until I get up to speed, I make a point of enjoying the many non-financial rewards of published life. Instead of getting paid:
1. You get to remark in casual conversation things like, “My editor thinks, or “My publicist says.” Just having a publicist took ten years off my life--in a good way. When she, who actually lives and works in Manhattan, told me my marketing idea was brilliant, I knew the rest of my life would be downhill.
2. You get to play God to an audience. All writers get to make it rain or snow, decide what day of the week it is, and kill people with the click of a mouse. But published writers get to do it in public, commanding the time, attention, and emotions of a global audience. How heady to think that a character conceived during a daydream while driving my son to an orthodontist appointment lives in the hearts and minds of the reading public!
3. Free therapy. The writing process allows a writer deep exploration into the issues they are thinking about. Questions are considered from many angles and years spent exploring those questions will ultimately result in answers. You get all this without a co-pay or pesky office visits.
4. You get validation from an authority. You know you’ve crossed a line when a publishing icon worth billions in assets thinks your work is good enough to be published. Advances will go the way of all funds and sales come and go, but your ISBN number lasts forever.
5. You get 15 minutes of fame. Of course it goes to your head. In my personal life after publication, I expected groceries to be delivered, teeth flossing to be outsourced, and immediate ascension into a social A-list--in my case: the Super Moms of Carpool Line Society. I was sure that after publication I would no longer be the slightly ditzy mom who shows up last minute, breathless, in exercise clothes with mascara smears and an excuse. Finally, I would be appreciated. Imagine my elation when a Super Mom said, “You wrote that book!” I smiled big and admitted that, yes, I did write that book. Super Mom put a hand out to stop someone who wanted her attention, allowing me to speak. But there was nothing else to say, and in the akward gap, my writing attire and mascara smears asserted themselves as the essence of me: a dual citizen of earth and outer space. Induction to the Super Society lost its appeal. Even if they would have me--what would I do there??
As I close in on my second novel I enjoy the free therapy and my ISBN, and no longer dream of a sock folding department or a different me. But most importantly, freedom from the distraction of my expired 15 seconds of fame leaves me far more able to focus on what really matters: speed writing.
Cindy Jones is the author of My Jane Austen Summer as well as work-in-progress about look-alike friends who trade places while under dangerous influence of Romantic Poets. Follow: