Thursday, June 4, 2015

Longevity Is Tough In Publishing

My wife and I were talking about an author's latest book last night over dinner. We were both extremely disappointed in the quality of the story. In fact, the last three books this author put out were far from amazing. Something had happened. When this author first came onto the scene, her stories were incredible. She offered some insight and new twists we had not seen, But, again, with these last books, something had happened.

What we were recognizing is something that, unfortunately, happens more often than we want. This is a case of those "one-hit-wonder" authors.

These authors hit the scene with some amazing stories. Editors and agents fight to be the ones to represent and sell these books. Heck, this is what we all dream of. We find that great book that becomes the next great best seller and things are golden. I get it! But then, after that first book, or that first contract, something does happen.

For you see, the author can't duplicate that original masterpiece. They certainly don't want to write another identical book, but coming up with something to equal that first one is not as easy as many would think. The pressure to succeed is just not there. I guess, in many ways, I am reminded of Linguine from  Disney's Ratatouille. If you remember, because of Remy, he makes that amazing soup but is then forced to duplicate it for the restaurant.

As an agent, I am probably the first to admit that it is easy to get caught up in the thought that this author will be able to have the longevity to keep producing at that high level. In reality, to succeed like this over a long period of time is just not that easy. I try, when look at potential authors, to look at the ideas the author has and consider if the author can make adjustments along the way to continually grow and learn. I want to be able to see that they can reshape how they approach their stories and not to be that one-hit-wonder.

So, will that author come out of that tailspin of three books in a row that are far from good? I really don't know. Unfortunately, based on the way this business works, the odds are not good for her. But then again, there are a lot of authors who can find a way out and continue.

We will just have to wait and see.

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