Friday, June 28, 2019

Honestly, I Appreciate Your Honesty

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." --John Keats, "Ode on a Grecian Urn"

"Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard...." --Billy Joel, "Honesty"

It was hard to think of something to say on the topic of first manuscript lessons without just repeating what’s already been said in these excellent and honest posts. I totally agree with the advice about not jumping to the first agent you can get and not rushing to publish the first book you can. As my colleagues here have already stated, it’s better to publish something amazing on the first go-round than to publish something less amazing just to say you’ve been published. Unfortunately, that realization doesn’t set in until later, after you’ve read the tepid or downright did-I-shoot-this-person’s-dog? reviews.

So rather than rehash what’s already been said, I’d like to take a different direction. I’d like to really, really thank the authors who were so generous--so HONEST--here. Because you know what? It’s rare. Authors are just like everyone else in that we live in the Facebook-highlight-reel world where we’re always supposed to act like our lives are perfect--like our careers are just great, thank you very much! Everybody wants to tell about their foreign rights or their awards or whatever other successes, but most fellow authors won’t tell you that their new book is not one of their publisher’s focus titles or that their sales aren’t good enough to warrant a sequel or that the Kirkus reviewer really hurt their feelings. The fact that these authors have let us all in on their true stories? Even the disappointments and the regrets? Wow! It means a lot.

I spoke to a college class of aspiring authors last year, and the professor lined up my eight published novels on the table in front of me. One of the students approached me at the end of the class and said, “Someday, I want to be just like you! I want to have all these published books with my name on them!” And while I didn’t want to crush her dreams or sound ungrateful, I told her which ones were out of print and which ones had disappointing sales and about how I still pick up work as a teacher and as a magazine writer. I encouraged her to keep writing but wanted her to know what she’d be getting into.

We all have so much to learn from one another if we’re willing to be vulnerable in order to encourage someone else. Thank you, fellow Smack Dabbers, for your honesty. I wish you all film rights and foreign rights and six-figure deals. I really do.

Ginger Rue is the author of the Aleca Zamm series from Aladdin and the Tig Ripley series from Sleeping Bear.

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