fame

General, The Selection

Fame

Here’s the thing about authors: we are not movie stars. I do not have a hard time remembering what Rob Pattinson looks like because his gorgeous, glorious, delicious face is everywhere. I know what he looks like. I also might dream about him a little bit... So, yeah, I could pick him out of a lineup. Easy.

We are also not rock stars. Musicians have it slightly harder than actors, because I can love a band (like The Fray) and not even know the lead singer’s name (truth). And if he walked past me this afternoon, I’d have no clue it was him. Music videos get way less action these days, and even if the CD has the band’s picture on the front, it doesn’t matter because you probably bought the MP3. And MP3s are made of space magic. But sometimes you just know who someone is. Britney Spears, for example. Can’t miss her if you try.

Authors are not like that. We are not movie stars or rock stars. We are word stars. That’s what people know. They know our words, our characters. We have a special kind of fame. You could be a New York Times Bestseller and still go to the grocery store without anyone giving a crap what you wore. And thank goodness for that.

This is how it is. Since book covers have pictures of pretty girls on them or fruit or whatever as opposed to the author’s face, I don’t know every author. Not even all the YA ones.

But isn’t that okay? Shouldn’t our characters be the big deal? I mean, I look at The Selection and know my characters are way more interesting than me. You should totally be paying attention to them. If anything, I’m just a pawn in their sick games. Wakey, wakey, Kiera! We have a story for you to tell! We’re going to make you crazy about it! Weeeeee!

Yeah, that’s pretty much how it goes. You should know.

So, I give you permission to not recognize me. I give you permission to not know I self-published a book before The Selection or that I make videos on youtube. In fact, I give you permission to not give a crap about me at all. At the end of the day, I don’t really matter so much.

But!

I hope with all my heart that you do know my characters. I hope you love them! I hope you stay up nights thinking about them and consider getting things they say tattooed on you somewhere and make quizzes to figure out which one you’re the most like. These are my deepest wishes.

I’m a word star. I hope you like my words. If you happen to like/know/tweet at me, that’s a perk. But I’m totally fine without it.

General, The Selection

*does not have a million bucks*

I made a huge mistake the other day.

A friend shared a link to a blog about authors and advances and the general truth about how much we make (since everyone always wants to know). I followed this link, read some very helpful posts on the breakdown of a royalty statement, and relearned what I already knew about giving well-earned percentages to our agents and being stuck in a crappy tax situation because being an author puts you in the self-employed lot.

But after that, I clicked on, reading about seven-figure deals for two books in particular that I just plain old don’t care for… and that, my friends, is how I slipped into the terrible trap of comparing myself to other people.

It’s not that I’m complaining about my deal! I did way better than a lot of first-time authors out there, and I’m very grateful for what I have! It’s just now I’ve had to think about how I define my success, because, really, what is it? How do I ever know if I’m good at my job?

I mean, these books (both trilogies) got at least a million for their ideas. So they’re rich… wahoo! BUT! I thought they were kind of lame… so, boo?

Is money success? Is it books that are really popular? Maybe hitting the New York Times Bestseller List or having a small but cult-like following? Selling the movie rights or being translated into every language on the planet, even those people out in the middle of nowhere who communicate in series of clicks?

For a long time, I said the only thing I wanted was to catch someone I didn’t know reading my book in public. But I might not ever get that one. There are no subways to ride in Blacksburg, and since I’m home with Toddler Guy a lot, I don’t see people in coffee shops and the like very often. I suppose there’s always the airport, but if you catch me anywhere close to one of those, something miraculous has happened.

I also have a secret ambition that I don’t talk about a lot, but… I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to write a banned book. Oh! The glory of it! I want some punk to try and censor me SO BADLY! Aggggghhhh!

Ok. I’m done.

I say all this to say I don’t know. Maybe The Selection will explode and people will start naming their kids Tuesday and Amberly, camp out for midnight movie releases, and make incredible t-shirts proclaiming their love for my characters.

Maybe not.

So, for now, I’m just trying to think about that little spot on the YA shelf between Kristen Cashore and Kay Cassidy that is going to be mine in about a year. That’s a lot to be excited about! And I’m hoping that bit of shelf space will drown out all the other worries, because I really don’t want them to hang around. Seriously. And things will look so much different in a year that I’m betting all of those thoughts will be completely obsolete anyway. So… so yeah.

I’m curious in your thoughts on your success as a writer, wherever you are in the process. Please share!