Thursday, January 10, 2013

Success Story

We’re over a week into the new year and I haven’t broken any resolutions yet. That’s because I didn’t make any. I did promise myself I’d write more, and that’s proving to be a problem. None of the dozen possibles I’ve got listed really wants to be written yet. I’ve picked out two with maybe a third. I’m just going to plunge ahead and hope one of them takes off. Or maybe my brain will get tired of the struggle and throw something unexpected at me. Sooner or later something will hit, but I’m going to have to kick it loose.

Naturally I try to make any book as good as I can write it, so readers will enjoy it and I can earn some gas and grocery money. We’ll worry about making a living at a later date.

But suppose I get lucky. Suppose the next book of mine that comes out turns out to be the next Twilight or 50 Shades. Stranger things have happened. What would I do if I suddenly had all the money and success we writers dream of?

It’s kind of like playing the lottery. The odds are stacked against you. You buy the ticket, or write the book, hoping this is the one that’s going to win but you don’t really think it’ll happen. That kind of good fortune only happens to others. Then the lottery official reads off the numbers, or your sales figures come in, and all of a sudden you’re George Lucas the weekend after Star Wars opened. Your book is flying off the shelves, your pockets are overflowing with cash and, just like on Cheers, everybody knows your name.

Now what?

On the off chance this ever happens, I sort of have a plan. First off, I’ve getting health insurance. Beyond that, things get hazy. I was considering a move back to New Jersey so I could spend my retirement years on the beach, but after Hurricane Sandy I may have to rethink that one. Maybe I’ll keep the PA home and just rent a place at the shore. Wherever I end up, it’ll have home Internet so I won’t have to rely on library or McDonald’s Wi-Fi any more. After that, we’ll have to see.

The biggest problem I foresee with success is, how would I follow it up? You’ve just directed Star Wars or published Twilight. The eyes of the world are on you to see what you do next. What do you do next? How can you top, or even equal, a global phenomenon? Not to mention the hordes of people out there just waiting for you to stumble. You can see their handiwork in Amazon reviews.

George Lucas did pretty well after Star Wars, if one ignores Howard the Duck. Stephenie Meyer and Suzanne Collins appear to have survived the success of their series. J. K. Rowling wrote a novel for grown-ups, though there are rumors she may return to the cash cow that is the Harry Potter universe. E. L. James has mentioned rewriting 50 Shades from Christian’s perspective. If it ain’t broke …

To answer the question: you can’t. Success of the Star Wars or Twilight or 50 Shades variety is an aberration. It happens once in a lifetime. Maybe it’ll happen once in your lifetime. You bank or invest the money, buy your aging mom a house, and then move on. Chances are the money won’t be as big as we all think it is anyway. Suzanne Collins said in an interview she hasn’t seen that big of a change in the family finances post Hunger Games because of her publisher’s payment schedule. Plus Uncle Sam will have his hand out before you even get your first check. By all means, shoot for megasuccess. Just remember you’ve been warned.

Given my luck, if this level of success hits me at all it’ll happen with a book that doesn’t have my name on it, some throwaway written under a pseudonym. I’m good with that. Then all the attention and pressure and demands for a follow-up will fall on that non-existent other writer, leaving me free to go on with my life, although with financial stability. Or if I do hit it big as me, I’ll just change my name. Then I can go out on top. Five years later people will wonder, “Whatever happened to that woman who wrote ______?” She’s out on a beach in New Jersey, writing books under other names and taking aimless road trips without having to worry about the price of gas.

Oh, right. First I have to write the book that’ll bring me that success. That’s always the hardest part. And what would you do if the Success Fairy conked you over the head with her wand? It could happen any time, so be ready. Happy writing!

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PS to Solara: Sorry, I wasn't going to post this week but then this subject hit. For anyone reading this, scroll down to the previous post and read my interview with Solara Gordon, then check out her new release, Hot for Torrey. I wish someone I knew would get rich and famous so I could blackmail them. It would save me a lot of hard work.


Savanna Kougar said...

At this point, if that happened to me with a book, which it wouldn't, I'd spend every last dime on tangible goods and stocking up on food, etc. Why? Right now, the country is going down the sinkhole by design of the bankster gangster crew.

Likely health insurance won't help you in the long run. The medical system is in the crapper, and who knows if the company will pay out, anyway? Doctors are leaving en masse. The insurance companies could decide to go bankrupt at any time. And if the death panel decides you're too old, or whatever, your insurance won't matter. All that happened, is they just got your money.

Sorry, but the world is no longer what it was. Not to mention, the banks can't be trusted. There's no point in keeping anything of value in them. Only enough to pay bills.

Sorry again. Plus, they want to get the taxes up to 80 percent... so, say goodbye to any real amount of monies.

Savanna Kougar said...


Serena Shay said...

Ah Pat, may you find success with all your pen names so we can find you sunning yourself on the beach! :D

I too would seek out decent healthcare and a vehicle that got fabulous gas mileage so I could become the snow bird I should be!! Texas in the winters...Northern Minnesota in the summers. Perfect.

Pat C. said...

My parents had the life. After Dad retired they sold the house, bought a trailer, and traveled around the country working at state parks and campgrounds. In the winter they joined the rest of the old folks in Arizona or Florida. I got to stay home, hold down a job, provide an address for voting purposes and handle their mail.

I won't be buying a '67 Impala for my roadtripping. I'm a VW fan. Though I did learn to drive on a '64 Impala.

Serena Shay said...

See, I so wouldn't mind buying a trailer and traveling to all the wonderful sites this country has to offer. Touring, writing and spending time with my small family...perfection.

However, I really would need to find success to cover my gas expense!

My first car was a 68 Mustang. Not great for travel, but faboo for hauling ass. Man did I have fun in that baby! :D

Savanna Kougar said...

I had a silver barracuda... think it was a 64... and that was the best car ever!!! Talk about fast...

Yeah, long ago, my sis and I talked about traveling the country once we retired... but things have changed way too much. It ain't the good ole days of road trips anymore.

But, good for your mom and dad, Pat. I bet they had a real good time overall. That was America as it should be, as far as traveling freely about the country.

Pat C. said...

Yeah, gas was a helluva lot cheaper when they were travelling the country. That would have been early to mid-80s until Dad died in 1996. I'd rather have a home base and take extensive road trips. Like George Carlin, I need a place for my stuff.

The first car I bought with my own money was a 1973 VW Beetle. I couldn't even drive it because it was stick. Now I'm uncomfortable driving automatic. It's nice to know I can drive either in case of emergency.

Savanna Kougar said...

I'm with you on the home base. So many fabulous places to visit... so sad now because travel is way down here, for a whole lot of reasons. You couldn't pay me to get on a commercial airplane for a whole lot of reasons, and driving cross country is a lot less safe than it used to be...

But here's to the good ole days of being able to traverse the country and experience the wonders.

Yeah, a friend of ours bought a Beetle... we had a good time stuffing a bunch of us in with our dogs, and going to the summer park obedience training classes.

Serena Shay said...

Oh man, my grandparents and my mom & dad drove tons of beetles back in the 70's. I used to sit in that back storage area and listen to the funky music they would play...yeah, safe, I know. hehe

Now Darling Diva who is only 12 going on 40 wants a bug for her 16th! LOL I guess this is her way of giving me time to save up. ;)

Pat C. said...

Oooh! Oooh! That little storage spot behind the back seat! That was my spot too! (Before I got too big for it.)

I haven't done a cross-country drive since the '80s. Or flown in a plane, come to that. I have nothing against air travel. I just like to drive. You see more interesting things.

Pat C. said...

Do the new, updated Bugs have that storage space? I've been driving Jettas since the '80s.

Serena Shay said...

You know, I have no idea if they have the storage space...there is one for sale at a little auto place near us, I might have to swing by there with DD to see if the storage made the cut for the new bugs. :) I'll let you know...