Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Against All Odds

Quick, name a famous supermodel. Cheryl Tiegs. Twiggy. Cindy Crawford. Christie “the ex-Mrs. Billy Joel” Brinkley. Tyra Banks. I only know Tyra because I watch America’s Next Top Model. I only thought about ANTM because it’s starting up again on Friday. This time it’s girl models vs. boy models. Quick, name a male supermodel. Don’t worry; I can’t either. If a guy wins, will the show catapult him to model superstardom? Will he even have a job this time next year?

Which got me thinking about the previous contestants of ANTM. There have been at least a dozen winners, twelve additions to the ranks populated by Tiegs, Crawford, Banks, and Mrs. Joel. By now at least one of them should be a household name. It doesn’t seem to have turned out that way. In terms of fame, “America’s Next Top Models” have been pretty much invisible.

Adrienne, the very first Top Model winner, had her own reality show at one point, but that was more about her marriage to one of the guys from The Brady Bunch. Caridee English hosted another reality show, and did commercials for a skin condition treatment. Haven’t seen her recently. At least one showed up on Celebrity Rehab and another (one of the plus-sizers) on Celebrity Fit Club. One former contestant hit the big time: she made it onto Dr. Phil because of drug addiction. I recognized another former contestant on a commercial (no lines) and I think I saw one on Project Runway but I can’t be sure because the show didn’t mention her name. The rest may be doing print ads and are therefore off my radar, since I don’t look at fashion magazines.

This troubles me, because one of the prizes each season is a contract with Cover Girl cosmetics. Again, it must be print work, because the commercials use established celebs like Pink, Drew Barrymore, Queen Latifah and Ellen Degeneres. Sorry, ladies, you just lost out on the Cover Girl gig to glamour gal Ellen Degeneres. Welcome to the industry.

To date, we’ve had over 100 would-be Bankses and wanna-be Brinkleys model their hearts out on the show, milk their 15 minutes, and then sink without a trace. That includes the winners. The show’s been running for at least ten years, and I don’t think a single one of those girls has risen to Crawford-level heights. I don’t even know who won last season. I think I missed the finale because Grimm was on. Given the choice between some skinny chick and Monroe the werewolf—hell, that’s not even a contest.

What’s this got to do with anything? Merely an illustration: even with a contract, opportunity and exposure, there’s no guarantee you’ll make it. Or you could make it for an eyeblink and then fade from view. Or the biggest push in the world won’t get you anywhere. Or maybe you will make it. Nobody knows. When someone does make it, it’s usually as big a surprise to them as it is to everyone else.

All this holds true for writing. If we knew for sure what makes a bestseller, we’d only write bestsellers. Thanks to the rise in self-publishing, dozens of new books hit the virtual stands every week. Some will do well. Most will sink without leaving a ripple. At least one will pop up out of nowhere and take off like gangbusters. Ask Amanda Hocking how that feels.

All the promo in the world won’t necessarily make a difference. It can be a brilliantly-written book with a solid, original idea and still go nowhere. It could suffer from pedestrian writing and characters that “give new meaning to the word cardboard” (once said of John Grisham) and hit #1 on every list in existence. Only a handful will hit those heights. The rest will be forgotten in a year. Or faster.

The odds are against your book becoming the Cindy Crawford of the publishing world. That’s just the reality of writing. Nothing guarantees it’ll sell even ten copies. On the other hand, nothing says it won’t. Maybe your book will be the exception that proves the depressing rule. The odds might be 10,000 to one against you, but what if you turn out to be that one?

The only way to find out for sure is to write the best damn book you can and get it out to market, either through traditional methods, e-pubs, or self-pubbing. No one can judge how well your book struts its stuff until you put it out on the runway. You could have a winner on your hands. Slip that dress on it, style that hair, wedge its feet into those tight little heels and who knows? Your book might be America’s Next Top Novel!

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Trivia quiz: When ANTM debuted, it aired on the old UPN network, which later merged with the WB to create the CW. ANTM is the last UPN show still on the air. What show still running on the CW is the last survivor of the former WB? Hint: the boys are hot and the angel needs to smile more often. Heh heh.


Serena Shay said...

Oooh, I know the answer to that question! It's my favorite show of all time...and yes the eye candy doesn't hurt either! ;)

Nice job making the writing connect there and Amen...write the best damn novel we can and hope for the best! Scary, but true!

Now if I can just get this lazy butt to do the writing part! hehe

Savanna Kougar said...

It's sort of like luring children with candy... here have a lollipop... oh, and all you have to do is go through hell, win... and the world is your oyster. Nooooooooo!!! It ain't. Actually, it's all fundamentally a scam, as I've discovered by going down the rabbit hole of searching for the truth.

Because how many of those girls get preyed upon in some horrific way? The behind the scenes stuff that comes out about what really happens to models, wannabee actresses, and actresses... good lord! RUN! in the opposite direction! It ain't worth it.

None of it. Not even if you hit the so-called heights.

However, GOOD POINT, about how the dynamics work when compared to writing a book. Although, there's so much manipulation by the BIG BOY publishers, what would truly sell phenomenally... well, who really knows??? If it was actually a fair playing field for all of us.

And, like I've said, even though I know it won't happen anyway... however, at this point, I don't want a phenomenally selling book. It would be an absolute hell to try to deal with... the IRS would try take most of it. Everyone would have their hand out... and I'm not talking about those in real need, either.

So, bless anyone in that position. Because it's not a life I want.

Pat C. said...

How do you know it won't happen? If I might quote William Goldman, author of "Adventures in the Screen Trade": "Nobody knows anything." He was talking about Hollywood, but it holds true all around. Nobody knows what's going to be the Next Big Thing until the Next Big Thing appears. It could be your next book. Or mine. Or Serena's or Rebecca's or Solara's. Who knows?

If you don't want the money, I'd like to reserve my place in line right now. Third from the front, next to the bathroom.

Pat C. said...

Sort-of on topic: back around 2000, when pro wrestling was huge, the WWE had their own reality/competition show, "Tough Enough." I think there were three seasons, with three winners hired by the WWE. I have no idea what happened to them, if they ever appeared on the show or if they're still in the business.

However: around the same time I watched a documentary about young wrestlers in training, including one young man named John Cena. Cena got hired the old-fashioned way: hard work and a dollop of luck. He's currently the WWE's champ and top name, and he was never even on the reality show.

Out of the talented thousands who never make it, there's always one who does. Why? You got me. God flipped the coin and it came up heads. I'm going to work at finding God and giving Him a two-headed coin.

Serena Shay said...

Oh add me to the list of phenomenal selling book dreams. I'd love to have that happen to me with my writing. To be sought after and to have readers love my stuff...yeah, that's a dream I'd love to have come true - even if I'd have to deal with the less than happy parts of it all.

Savanna Kougar said...

Pat, so much of Hollywood is controlled as far as what is even allowed to be made. So, there is NO fair playing field whatsoever. Sure, the Divine can intervene, and does. However, if you listen to those in the know who are part of that world, Hollywood is basically CIA controlled right now, and has been for a long time. And there are directors who do their best to circumvent that control like with the film, Oblivion, and Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut... and guess who got assassinated before that film could be released?

Remember X-Files? Most of the stories were given to the writers by the CIA... which is one reason they had the ring of truth. I sensed it at the time. It was just too real. The name of the actor eludes me at the moment -- who broke the story, and testified to what he witnessed. He was one of the lone gunmen.

Anyhoo, look at the news story that just broke about Hollywood being controlled by Hitler sympathizers. One mucky muck was forced to divorce his Jewish wife at the time. Well, if you ever saw the Disney film, Rocket Man, I think it was... yeah, it was basically a true story about that time period.

Hollywood, the Media Industrial Complex... that's serpent's nest I don't want to be part of. Hell, look at Jim Marrs. He's a top selling investigative author, been the NY bestseller list several times... and he has battle the publisher to get the truth out. They put the kibosh on some of his documented info... that is, if he wants his book published traditionally.

The reason I know I'll never reach those rarefied heights is because of my writing style. And 'whoever in publishing' would figure out real fast, I won't play ball. Hell, the contract would likely be crap. Besides, I can't write the type of romance books they want... the books they think their readers want to read. Of course, some of them do. But, since my books do sell moderately -- certainly enough to be in PAN at RWA -- I assume there are some readers who prefer something different.

If it was a matter of simply being appreciated by readers, well sure, bring it on. But when you listen to authors who have been in that world -- like the truths they reveal on the Indie loop -- and some of them had topselling books... also, some of them still have books they publish that way, along with their Indie books... honestly, overall, it's not a pretty picture. Some of them have been screwed every which way but loose, at times. And, really, these are NOT isolated examples.

I respect dreams, having dreams of success. I've always been a dreamer myself, stars in my eyes, head in the clouds, but trying to be practical in my approach. However, when reality slaps you in the face, I think you need to pay serious attention. And get the message.

The world is NOT as it's advertised to be. It's a fantasy that's been sold to us as real.

That said, I truly wish everyone success, the success they desire. And especially when it's you and Serena. All GOOD to both of you.