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The Thrill Begins: Published? Don’t get the big head about it.

Published? Don’t get the big head about it.

Posted by marjoriespages.com

A cautionary tale by Ron Argo


In the beginning of my writing career I’ll admit to overplaying the right to call myself an “author”—as in no longer just a “writer.” In 1987, when my agent sold my first ms. to Simon & Schuster for a “nice price” and then put together an auction for the paperback and also selling it to Japan, I rather sat back on my laurels, thinking, “Oh yeah, I’m on my way.”
 
Things had looked promising from the start. A few years earlier I had mass-mailed 85 queries to mostly NY agencies, and a full 15 responded with offers to represent me/the novel. Granted it was an enticing query, and granted as well in the mid-’80s, some editors still nurtured their writers, as mine would do over the next two years. Agents knew that so they were also patronizing and nurturing to new, promising clients. I was on a roll.
 
Didn’t have to worry about those pesky details of printing, editing, etc., either, like we have to do now to e-publish a saleable book. S&S had a gaggle of Radcliffe/Vassar girls for that. All I had to do was merely approve or not. (Mind you I did put in a dozen years writing that first book, adding, deleting as if slicing off chunks of my heart, this over and over and over…) Seemed like I got important next-day FedEx envelopes a couple times a week. And they did a job on the book itself—Tom Clancy-large and thick with art inside, beautiful font, sewn bound and printed on cream paper. Tops. Soon the pre-reviews began to roll in, not one negative and several starred. Talk about the proverbial sliver spoon. It was mine.
 
I had this nonchalant attitude and naive concept that the big house would take care of publicity with the promised $10k advertising budget—well, certainly you’ll understand how I let myself get the big head.
 
But then, with no notice, the curtain fell and it fell hard. Everything died; the paper auction, no review appeared in the NYTimes or any other major and my editor and agent both grew silent. What happened? I begged to learn. “Your book got lost in the abyss,” was Publicity’s response. “Sorry, s— happens.” That promised advertising was hijacked, most likely for some other promising writer’s novel. My editor, who had first option on the next “great” novel, a few years later rejected the next one, calling it a monstrosity, or such, when the real reason had been that I was now a dreaded “midlister” so they didn’t want to gamble on me again.
 
My NY agent dropped me too.

Read the rest at The Thrill Begins: Published? Don’t get the big head about it..

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