Publication is Like Death

Elizabeth Royte writes in today’s NY Times about the misery of getting, and being, published.

For any writer, the publication of a book, labored over for years, is an
exciting event. But excitement is a fleeting emotion, and the business of
publicizing the book, so that it sells and the author can earn out his advance,
quickly displaces any initial euphoria. The writer then embarks on a tortured
journey toward acceptance of the fact, several months after publication, that
his book isn’t going to vault him into the empyrean of fame, or even improve his
life. At the intersection of Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross’s stages of grief and
Stendhal’s stages of love, the contemporary author trudges along a predictable
path that can only be described, in hindsight, as self-induced misery.

9 thoughts on “Publication is Like Death”

  1. That’s a kind of dramatic way of putting it, certainly, though I’m not sure it’s inaccurate. I would amend it to say, after the publication of your first book in which you discover the world’s overall lack of interest in your work, you are faced with the abrupt realization that if you would like to see your work in print ever again you’re going to have to work your ass off to sell your previous books. It ain’t fun and it’s probably not what got you into the gig in the first place, but since when do all aspects of your fantasies come true?
    Best,
    Mark Terry

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  2. You know, sometimes it’s actually the fear of this that keeps me from writing. Scary. Some days I’m afraid I won’t be published. Some days I’m afraid I will.

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  3. Wow. What a surprise to find that America hasn’t taken “On The Secret Trail of Trash” straight to its heart. Who would have thought that people might be put off reading about land dumps and sewer lagoons? Still, it’s good to see she’s kept a sense of proportion about it.

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  4. Oh my. I didn’t realize I should be writing only for fame and fortune. I feel bad for this author. It sounds like the general expectation of what should happen once a book is published, is a bit … well, unrealistic.
    In my mind, the journeys of writing a book, of publishing a book, and of publicizing a book are three different paths that connect but are not the same. We are no longer in the age of publishing when books were the only means of entertainment. Making it much easier (generally speaking) to sell a book. We are in an age when books are one of many means of entertainment and writers need to address all areas – via publicity, via networking, via whatever means makes sense for that author and her genre.
    Or I’m full of crap.
    One of the two.

    Reply
  5. Oh my. I didn’t realize I should be writing only for fame and fortune. I feel bad for this author. It sounds like the general expectation of what should happen once a book is published, is a bit … well, unrealistic.
    In my mind, the journeys of writing a book, of publishing a book, and of publicizing a book are three different paths that connect but are not the same. We are no longer in the age of publishing when books were the only means of entertainment. Making it much easier (generally speaking) to sell a book. We are in an age when books are one of many means of entertainment and writers need to address all areas – via publicity, via networking, via whatever means makes sense for that author and her genre.
    Or I’m full of crap.
    One of the two.

    Reply
  6. I’m glad you posting this article I put in the other thread to make a point. The book on Hunter Thompson seems interesting, but it didn’t go anywhere as the author said in the piece no matter what they did. Of course he wasn’t dead then either.
    Looking for publication is a sort of torture and it doesn’t look like a whole lot of fun on the other side either.

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  7. I’m glad you posted this article I put in the other thread to make a point. The book on Hunter Thompson seems interesting, but it didn’t go anywhere as the author said in the piece no matter what they did. Of course he wasn’t dead then either.
    Looking for publication is a sort of torture and it doesn’t look like a whole lot of fun on the other side either.

    Reply

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