Most authors happen to be sensitive souls. The kind of cruelty they get subjected to in their routine lives makes one wonder as to how they keep dishing out juicy narratives day after day, despite facing mighty challenges.
For those who specialize in spinning fictional yarns, the basic challenge is that of cranking up a plot and etching out characters which fit into the overall scheme of things. For those who dish out a non-fiction piece of work, the challenge is that of coming up with a novel subject which would provide some satisfaction to their target audience.
Cruelty in the Creative Phase
When their creative juices are in full flow, distractions abound. Social commitments often impede the pace of work. Spouses pop up with some mundane queries just when the proceedings happen to be perking up. Maid servants and postmen come in just at the time when the heroine is about to swoon and fall into the hero’s out-stretched arms. An all too important marriage comes up in the spouse’s family just when the manuscript is being given the finishing touches.
Distractions of this kind interrupt the flow of creative juices. The author develops a ‘block’. To claw her way out of a block, a muse has to come to the aid of the party of the first part. Sanity is restored on its throne. Creative juices resume their flow.
Once the creative foray in the imaginary mind space is over, a wannabe author lands on the hard terrain of real life. Publishers of all hues get contacted. The agonizing wait for a firm but polite rejection note, if any, begins. Quite a few publishers believe in the dictum that ‘Silence itself signifies rejection’. Heart-broken, the hapless author starts examining other options. Self-publishing pundits get consulted.
Leads given by friends who are blissfully ignorant of the current challenges being faced by traditional publishers keep getting followed up. The fact that they face an existential crisis these days, what with the barrage of e-books available at the click of a button, gets neglected. Their survival instincts lead them to woo well-established authors even while being wooed by newbie authors.
Surviving in the Publishing Jungle
Keen to share her work with the world, the author finally relents and settles down to a mode of publishing which meets her ambition, her purse strings and the content of the work to be peddled.
The interaction with a publisher – whether of the traditional, the print-on-demand, or the vanity kind – saps the energy of the author no end. Reserves of patience get called upon to answer all the queries raised and the permissions asked for. A realization dawns that nerves of chilled steel are a prerequisite for publishing a work. Exasperation sets in.
Reaching out to potential readers
The mood of despondency gets somewhat lifted when the first copy of the book comes into the author’s hands. But this is no time to sit back and relax. Marketing plans need to be acted upon. Social media updates have to be fed to the virtual world in a relentless manner. Myriad queries keep the poor soul in a perennial state of torment.
Harsh critics pan either the contents or the approach of the book. Dreams of being on the To-Be-Read list of the target audience evaporate. Visions of one being on the Best Seller list in some part of the world get clouded. The art of competing with millions of other wannabe authors to attract the eye-balls of unsuspecting readers gets learnt the hard way.
Some of you would be delighted to know that Rosie M Banks, the Chair-person of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Authors (SPCA), is recently said to have invited nominations for some of the annual awards conferred by the society in the following categories:
- Bingo Little Award: For spouses who provide flexible me-only distraction-free time to wannabe authors and ensure that their afternoon cup of tea is invariably served piping hot.
- Aunt Dahlia Award: For family members who keep inviting authors to devour the lavish spreads of Anatole, thereby keeping them in a positive frame of mind and ensuring a free flow of their creative juices.
- Bertie Wooster Award for Milk of Human Kindness: Meant for pals who are present only when they are needed, and are part of the cheering squad, specifically when the chips are down and tissue restoratives need to be served.
- Lord Tilbury Award: For publishers who display their kindness by responding to unsolicited manuscripts within two weeks, and, when rejecting one, are gracious enough to suggest alternate publishing houses who might be interested in the material submitted.
- Florence Craye Award: For intellectual critics who realize the kind of hard work that goes into whipping up a book like ‘Spindrift’ and provide constructive criticism of any work referred to them for a review.
- Daphne Dolores MoreheadAward: For bulk buyers who pick up more than 25% of the total first print order of an upcoming book.
Do you wish to nominate someone for any of these coveted awards? Further details can be had at www.plumspca.com. The entry fee is a modest tenner, to be remitted to the bank account of Bingo Junior.
The 19 rejections of Plum
A word to cheer up wannabe authors would be in order.
As reported by the late Norman Murphy in the September 2016 issue of ‘By The Way’, published by the P G Wodehouse Society (UK), during the month of June, 1901, a twenty year old Plum was down with mumps and was at Stableford for three weeks. During this period, he wrote 19 short stories. All were rejected!
If this is what could happen to a Master Wordsmith of our times, there is much hope yet for first time authors of all sizes and shapes.
Having a chin up attitude, recalling one’s bulldog spirit, and facing the harsh slings and arrows of cruelty with aplomb would surely help!