Damn, that’s a long-ass title.
I was talking about this with Lauren Dane yesterday, and it seemed to me it was post-worthy, which is sort of like sponge-worthy, only it’s a measure of how much I want to spend the time formalizing my thoughts. Roughly equivalent to the Seinfeldism, no? Anyway. I have a point to make. Stay with me.
A few years back, my goal was to find an agent. I found one. But it didn’t work out. So the new goal became find an agent who can sell my work. I signed with Laura Bradford and omg, she was the THE ONE! So that goal met, instead of being happy and basking in my accomplishment, my brain chemistry immediately rewired itself, so it wasn’t enough. My new goal became sell a new project ASAP so if Jax tanks, you’re not screwed for a follow-up contract. And so we sold Corine! Woohoo! Time for me to be really proud of myself. I can relax, yes?
HELL NO. The devil brain in my skull casing whispers to me, is this really enough? Yes, you’ve diversified, but you need lots of irons in the fire. You need to build buzz around your name! Are you promoting effectively? You need to get on a bestseller list!
At this point, I am thinking, brain, why are you NEVER HAPPY? But I am a slave to my brain; I carry it around all day, and it is like a nagging spouse. Sometimes it doesn’t let me sleep at night. So I busted my ass, and lo, and behold, I made the bestseller lists. I can now put national bestselling author on my books.
But the brain is not satisfied. It still wants more. As I level up as a writer, it is constantly updating my goals. But some of them (like making the NYT or whatever) are pretty far out of my control. I can’t make one of my series “take off” magically. Of course I want them to, but I seriously have little impact on it. And it’s frustrating because my brain is like, None of your slacker-talk, missy! Make it happen! But I really feel like at a certain plateau, you almost need a lucky break or an increase in publisher support to bump you up to that next level. So the “goals’ I make at this point might as well be find a magic lamp or locate a four-leaf clover.
I write all this out in hopes of opening a dialogue. I don’t think there’s a magical formula for hitting big; otherwise more people would do it, surely! Is it confluence of timing, subject matter and publisher push? I know there are no magic beans–I’m the original proponent for hard work. But does there come a point where the success really can’t be improved at the author’s hands? Is there a mid-list plateau?