How is this the last Wednesday of July, already?? o.O I’m not ready!! Thank goodness we have Featured Author D.B. Jackson visiting – today he’s here to share some of his pet peeves. Read on!
I should preface this post by saying that I really, really love my job. I started writing stories around the same time I started writing complete sentences. Seriously. I wrote my first “book” when I was six years old; I knew from a very young age that I wanted to spend my life writing, and so this career is quite literally a dream come true for me.
But as any professional writer will tell you, the publishing business is not for the faint of heart. This career path is rife with frustrations and setbacks of all sorts.
And so, as I wind down my month as Drey’s featured author for July, I thought it might be fun to give you all a glimpse into this writer’s professional pet peeves. Please don’t take the list too seriously, and do keep in mind that this comes from a writer who loves his work.
In no particular order:
Reserves against returns.
- Never heard of them, right? Yeah, unless you get regular royalty statements from a publisher, there is no reason why you should. But take my word for it, they suck. Basically what they mean is this: Bookstores essentially sell books on consignment from publishers, taking a cut from each sale and then sending the rest on to the publisher. When books don’t sell they are returned to the publisher for a refund. And so publishers, in turn, hold on to some of a writer’s royalty money as a hedge against those returns. But since we only receive royalty statements twice a year, and reserves against returns can be held for up to four or five pay periods, that can mean we don’t see all the money we’re owed for two or three years. Yeah, told you they sucked.
- “Wait,” you might be saying. “Don’t you mean ‘Bad reviews?’” No, I mean pretty much all reviews. Sure a good review is a nice thing, and I hope to get many for A PLUNDER OF SOULS and all the other books I plan to write in the years to come. But waiting for reviews is incredibly nervewracking; bad reviews sting like yellowjacket venom; and worst of all, one bad review or even one that’s merely mediocre outweighs all the good reviews combined. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Well, writers are pretty neurotic that way. I certainly am. The Thieftaker books have been remarkably well reviewed, but the one bad high profile review I have gotten (this is three books into the series) is the one on which I’ve fixated, the one from which I can quote exact lines. Okay, maybe it’s not reviews I hate, but rather my own obsessive need for praise . . .
- Galley proofs, more recently referred to as firstpass page proofs, are the typeset pages of a book before they are bound. They are sent to authors near the end of the production process so that we can read through them and look, one last time, for errors and typos. Compared with revisions and copyedits, they are pretty easy to handle. So why do I hate them so much? Probably because by the time I see the proofs for any given novel, I have already read through the book at least four times (twice for my own initial edits, once or twice for the revisions I do after my editor has had a chance to comment on the book, once for copyediting). I don’t care how much I might love one of my own books: six readthroughs is more than I can bear.
People who assume all writers must be rich.
- Writing is a wonderful way to spend one’s life. I get to make up stories and people actually pay me to read them. I love that. But fun as it is, for the vast majority of authors, writing is not a path to great wealth. Most writers barely scratch out a living. Sure, there are a select few who make a lot of money, but you hear about those folks because they are the exceptions. Most writers can’t afford to quit their day jobs. A few of us can do it fulltime, but make barely enough to get by, usually with the support of a loving spouse. Now, I’m not complaining about the money. I have realized my dream of being a writer and making my living by being creative; this life offers rewards that can’t be measured in dollars and cents. And I chose this profession; I knew going into it that I wouldn’t make a lot. But folks assume that since I have published books I must be making Grisham/Martin/Rowling money, and believe me I’m not.
Nowhere close. Most people would be shocked if they knew how little most writers make.
And again, that’s fine. I’m happy in what I do. But occasionally it rankles.
Mall bookstore signings.
- I actually had a really nice signing at a mall bookstore earlier this month, so there are exceptions to this. But that signing was special because a) my daughter was with me, and b) I was signing with two friends, Faith Hunter and A.J. Hartley. I’ve also had a couple of solo signings over the years that went pretty well. Most mall signings, though, are a nightmare, and I often wonder why I do them anymore.
Unfortunately, I rarely think of this ahead of time. Most of the time, it only occurs to me when I’m in the store, enduring another two hours of public humiliation. There is something dreadfully painful about sitting in front of a pile of your own books, alone at a table, selling nothing, and watching as people hurry past, desperate to avoid eye contact. I’ve had people come up to me and ask me where they can find the selfhelp section. I tell them, taking care to be as polite as possible, that I have no idea, that I don’t work in the store, but instead am an author selling his latest novel. But after this happens two or three times, what I want to say is, “I don’t know where the selfhelp section is, but if you find it, could you come back here and take me to it?”
So there’s my list. Many thanks to Drey for hosting me again on Drey’s Library. I hope you all enjoy A PLUNDER OF SOULS!
Thank you so much for visiting us this month, David! I’ve really enjoyed your posts, and the insight you’ve provided on your characters, setting, to-be-reads, and even your pet peeves. I picked up a copy of A Plunder of Souls, can’t wait to read it! (Sorry for the delay, my schedule’s a bit full right now…)