Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Stuff They Don't Teach You

Over the weekend, I had a chance to attend a signing with Rob Kantner. I'm a big fan of Rob's, and have been for years, and was fortunate to write the foreword to his collection of mystery short stories TROUBLE IS WHAT I DO. Buy it. It's awesome.

I was short on pens, but Bill Castanier and Don Austreng both stepped up and gave me theirs. Thanks, guys! Afterward, Robin Agnew and Jamie, who run Aunt Agatha's Books, took us out for a beer.

While in Michigan, I also did a talk for the Deadwood Writer's Group at a Barnes and Noble. Met some cool folks, went out for a beer afterward.

Upon my return, I did a signing with some of my peers in Skokie, and afterward went out for a bite. Courtenay, the manager at the restuarant, overheard us talking shop and gave me a bundt cake because she loves to read. I gave her a copy of the December Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, which features my Jack Daniels story WITH A TWIST.

I just learned that for RUSTY NAIL, I'll be visiting 500 bookstores on my tour. A letter from me explaining the tour will be printed in the ARCs, coming out next month. This in contrast to a friend of mine, who called this morning to tell me his second book of a two book contract was in danger of being dropped, because the numbers for his first book weren't as high as expected. His book has been out for less than two months. Is that scary, or what?

With all of this fresh in my head, I made a list of some things about the writing business that you won't find in any How-To book:
  1. Talent has very little to do with success in this business.
  2. No one knows what will sell.
  3. Just because something is publishable, does not mean it will be published.
  4. Sometimes the unpublishable gets published.
  5. The writing business has more than its share of pettiness. But it also has more than its share of well-wishers.
  6. We tend to think of our successes as things that were earned, rather than the result of luck---but it actually is luck.
  7. Overestimating your own importance, or underestimating the importance of others, doesn't do anybody any good.
  8. Getting free stuff is really cool.
  9. It's necessary to work hard, but that doesn't guarantee anything.
  10. Few things compare to the joy of seeing your name in print.
  11. Helping others is almost as cool as getting free stuff.

I also got a call today from an MWA member, asking if I wanted to renew my membership. It's $100 for a year. I've been a memeber for three years, but can't come up with any good reasons to renew, other than 'everyone else is doing it.' Your comments?