Success Is Process

Spy vs Sci 518 Yesterday I finished the zero draft of Agent Zero, otherwise known as “the spy and the waitress that I wrote for Mel Sterling thing.” Consequently my brain feels like Swiss cheese right now, and runny Swiss cheese at that. Nevertheless, the new project–Rattlesnake Wind, a YA that probably won’t ever see publication–is burning a hole in me. So there’s that, aching to come out, but I have promised myself today off.

A lot of you are asking why Wayfarer isn’t out in hardback. The publisher made that decision based on the numbers for Nameless. They didn’t make enough money to justify bringing Ellie’s story out in hardback. I’m sorry–you can’t know how sorry–but it’s one of those things I have absolutely no control over. If you’d like to see a hardback, please let the publisher know. As it is, I’m not even sure Ruby’s story will make it into print, because the numbers just aren’t there. Which is part of my decision to leave YA for a while. I don’t think anyone will pick up Rattlesnake Wind or the sci-fi YA I was working on, Reader’s Shadow. It appears I’m not “mainstream” enough, whatever that means.

Which is okay.

I’m shifting back over to romance for a bit, because there’s stories I want to tell there now–like Agent Zero, and another Watcher book, and we’ll see what else. And let’s not forget Jeremy Gallow, which will take the place of the Bannon & Clare books. (DON’T WORRY–The Ripper Affair is still coming out, it’s just the last B&C for a while.) I’m excited about Gallow, because I have been thinking about him and his story for YEARS now. And frankly stepping away from the really intense work a YA represents gives me time to write some things I really, really want to. Like the cyberpunk Western serial for Fireside, or the Night’s Mother book, or the Storm Queen cycle. Not to mention doing things like bringing out the Selene ebook (we’re int he very last stages, I promise) and maybe re-editing and finishing the Keepers trilogy.

Of course, hitting this stage in my career where the publishers tell me “these just aren’t making enough money” has set off a crisis of confidence. I am, after all, human. (Shhh! Don’t let it get out, I have a reputation to maintain.) My agent assures me I’m not circling the drain, my beloved editor Devi at Orbit still believes in me, and I still have my Dear Readers. I’m just…a little bruised.

But that’s publishing. It’s a funny business, and “success” is not a static point. It’s an ongoing process, and I’m still comfortably midlist. On my better days I am viewing this as a chance to write in another way, to try some new things. The better days outnumber the other days, thank God.

It’s hard having to tell Readers over and over that I have no control over several things, that they’ll have to talk to the publisher. Many, many fans think that an author has a type of agency and latitude to demand things we quite simply don’t. I often feel bad because I can’t give Readers an answer other than “that’s the publisher’s call” for a lot of things; I also feel bad when the publisher says “this just isn’t selling” and my brain immediately jumps to “I HAVE FAILED, YOU TOOK A CHANCE ON ME AND I BLEW IT, OH GOD I AM SO SORRY.” The constant rejection inherent in this career (when you finish being rejected by agents you get rejected by publishers, then by reviewers, then by Amazon reviewers, you get the idea) does rob one of a certain sense of perspective.

So I’m going to watch some Wong Kar-Wai movies, and listen to some music, and do some deep breathing, and cuddle the kids and the dogs and the cats. (But not the cavies. They don’t like cuddles by HUGE MEAT THINGS THAT COULD BE PREDATORS EVEN IF THEY BRING THE FUDZ.)

And tomorrow, when I get up, I’ll be ready to shift over to Rattlesnake Wind, and make some words.

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Michael Mock
Michael Mock

I don’t think I really have anything to add to that – you already know you have Dear Readers who value your work – so can I just throw out a “Wow, that really sucks”? Wow, that really sucks. Because I really enjoy your writing, and because you’re doing varied and interesting things with it. (I suppose that might make it more of a risk from a publisher’s perspective, but for you as an author I think it’s a real strength. Being versatile gives you more options, yes, but it’s also a measure of the quality of your work.) Anyway,… Read more »


I’ve been looking forward to Rattlesnake Wind. I loved the short story. I made a contribution to the kickstarter but, alas, things aren’t looking so good. Still, I want to read it. There is always, dare I say it, self-publishing. There are some great interviews over on the Rocking Self-Publishing podcast. Just sayin’.


I’ve said it before: If writers measured success by income, 95% of us would be miserable failures. The gold is in the words. It has to be. Hard to accept when bills are due and it seems everyone around you is winning awards and getting ginormous advances, but those things are fleeting. The words are forever. Hugs to you, lady.

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