Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Novelist's Hopes

Today I received a request from Chicken Soup for Writers to submit an inspirational, motivational story. Examining some of my old essays about my hopes and aspirations earlier on in my writing career, I came across the piece below. I wrote it in 1999 upon completing PUPPET CHILD and typing the magic words, "THE END."  To my consternation, I realized that my life as an author was just beginning:

Copyright 1999 © Talia Carner

You've cut your wrists and bled all over the keyboard--for five years.
You’ve revised/overhauled the story thirty times. Edited eighty times.
You've sent hundreds of queries to agents.
Clumps of hair are missing from your scalp as rejections pour in. 
The noose of a rope is dangling from the ceiling just in case.
An agent working out of his jail cell (see ACLU v. Justice Department) agrees to represent you.
Your agent locates a Christian publisher in Pittsburgh, specializing in His Word, who says he'll read your manuscript.
The Christian publisher will reconsider your book if you make the protagonist go to church on Sunday and restore her virginity.
You do all that and then some.
You spend $42 at Kinko for each copy and $26 for mailing, round trip (they insist you include a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope.)
Two years go by. Your agent retired on royalties she’d made from other authors.
After sending fifty queries, you manage to get a new agent. You opt for a young, hungry one.
Twenty publishers later ($68 x 20=$1,360 in printing and mailing), your book is sold.
You frame the $1,000 check. (You can afford not to cash it; soon, you'll be a millionaire many times over.)
You accost that famous author at her locker room in the health club (you threaten to yank that towel away) and get a blurb for the back cover of your book.
You throw a party, and buy a gold pair of shoes to go with the champagne.
You purchase 300 copies (the publisher gives you a discount) to mail to reviewers and policy-makers.
You open a web site for all your future fans.

Your local book store buys two copies. Ditto the book store in your mother's town.
Your book is on the shelf! Hurray!
Then you discover it has the expiration date of YOGURT!

Whatever made me think books were forever?

P.S. The heart-wrenching suspense PUPPET CHILD was published in 2002. In the ten years that have passed, I learned that a well-written book that tells a story never told before can make it a decade past the three-week bookstore shelf-life. In fact, PUPPET CHILD was selected in "The Top Ten Best First Novels 2002" ( and then launched a law that became the platform for two State Senatorial candidates. While I’ve published two novels since, PUPPET CHILD is still selling every week—mostly in digital format—and readers have a great reading experience!
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Author Talia Carner’s latest novel, JERUSALEM MAIDEN—inspired by her grandmother’s untapped artistic genius—is the story of a young woman’s struggle between passion and faith. .

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