No rain this morning, which meant I was able to run. Did 2.7 miles, however the battery on my mp3 player died at about 1.2 miles. Bah.
I actually don’t listen to music very often. Don’t get me wrong–I like music and appreciate it, but for me it’s a distraction, which means I almost never play it if I’m involved in something that requires a lot of thought. I almost never listen to talk radio while driving, and I seldom listen to music while writing. (Yes, I’m one of those people who turns the radio down/off when I’m looking for an address.) I don’t process auditory input very well–a learning disability which went undiagnosed for pretty much my entire life. (Hey, guess what! “Try harder” doesn’t work!) In fact I probably would’ve never figured it out if I had not decided to become a cop. By pure happenstance, the way that we were required to write/take/format/reformat our notes was the right way for auditory input to actually make it into the “remember me” section of my brain. I graduated at the top of my Academy class, but even then I didn’t make the connection to a learning disability until I talked to someone who has a diagnosed auditory input disorder. I remember clearly thinking, “Holy crap. That’s me!!!” I would pay attention in class, take what I thought were sufficient notes (it was the same level of note-taking that everyone else was doing,) understand the material perfectly during lecture, and then later when I went back to study, I would have no idea how to do the work. If I tried to write more quickly and take more detailed notes, I’d miss things in lecture because I just couldn’t write fast enough and listen. So, I discovered that I could do the average amount of work and get an average grade, or I could totally kill myself and bust my ass and I could get a barely slightly better than average grade. Guess which path I decided to take? It also didn’t help to have teachers/counselors/everyone telling me that I was just being lazy and wasn’t applying myself and wasn’t working up to my potential. Hear that often enough and you eventually just come to accept it. (Would you tell a dyslexic that they could read if they would just try harder?)
However, in all fairness to teachers/counselors/everyone, there wasn’t as much awareness of learning disabilities 30 years ago. There was certainly not the same sort of screening and acceptance. Back when I was in school, only dumb kids had learning disabilities. But even though I have no intention of returning to school, I’m glad I figured it out. It makes me feel like not quite so much of a failure for not “living up to my potential.” And, more importantly, I have the awareness to watch out for it in my daughter.
Okay, I had not really intended for this to end up as a post about my auditory input disorder. Anyway, I listen to music when I run because it is distracting, and it distracts me from how much running sucks.
So, after my mp3 player died, I instead tried to force my brain into thinking about writing-related stuff. I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about the world of publishing as a business, because I know that it’s not enough to just write well. You have to treat writing like you would a career, and you have to know how the industry works. I know that it’s far better to receive a modest advance (for a first book) and have a modest print run and a decent sell-through, than it is to have a large advance that does not earn out and a high print run with a poor sell-through. A print run of 20,000 with 10,000 sales is a 50% sell-through. A print run of 100,000 with 10,000 sales is a 10% sell-through. It’s all about the numbers, which means the second scenario will pretty much tank your career and make the publishing house less than willing to invest more money in you.
I also invested $20 a month and subscribed to Publisher’s Marketplace, which gave me the ability to see all of the deals that have been made in the world of publishing. This is fantastic information, and I think that anyone who is trying or about to try to sell a book needs to invest in a subscription for a few months. Not only can you find out what kind of books are hot right now, but you can also see what kind of deal it is (one book or multi-book), who the agent is, who the editor is, and you can get a ballpark of what the advance is. (It breaks it down into Nice-1k to 49k, Very Nice-50k to 99k, Good-100k to 250k, Significant-251k to 499k, and Major-500k +)
I did a search on all sf/f deals, and noticed that the very large majority of authors get “Nice” deals. A very very small smattering of very well established sf/f authors get Major or Significant deals. Of those authors who had “Very Nice” or “Good” deals, pretty much all of them had been writing and selling for close to a decade, and had a backlist of at least five titles.
It was a healthy dose of reality. No, I haven’t sold a book yet, or even found an agent, but now when it happens I’ll go into the process with appropriate expectations and an understanding of what is expected of a writer beyond words on the page.
Okay, more later.