Here's To The Writing Life!

This career requires nerves of steel. Countless disappointments and the agonies of waiting have driven many a writer to drink. Or to Cadbury chocolate. Basically, choose your favorite numbing agent to survive the ride. There are celebrations along the way, though.

First you endure a long string of rejections. Mini Fiesta #1: Here's to landing a contract! Clink! For Secret Keeper, an offer came from Delacorte almost three years ago.

Next you wait to see if critics like your work. Mini Fiesta #2: Here's to getting a good review! Clink! My book's coming out in a month, and I'm exhaling bit by bit as the reviews start trickling in. I already heard that PW liked it, but the good news is that Kirkus agreed, saying that "this achingly realistic story ... will enlighten and inspire young women, and encourage them to value their own freedom." Whew.

Then you hope the darn thing sells. Mini Fiesta #3: Here's to earning out your advance and getting royalties! Clink! Ka-ching! Checks come for Sunita, Monsoon Summer, and Rickshaw Girl, but will they for Secret Keeper? I hope so. Because for some books I'm still waiting.

Each letter or note from a reader generates celebration, too (clink, clink), but finally, inevitably, no matter how many starry reviews and awards and fan mail and checks come your way, you'll get a letter from your publisher. It will inform you politely and formally that the book is going out of print and getting remaindered. Do you want to buy some copies, and if so how many? CLINK! *glass SHATTERS*

That's why the real party is writing the next story. Pass the Cadbury please.


beckylevine said…
Oh, no! Which book? What DO you do about this one?

I'm so sorry.
Mitali Perkins said…
SUNITA is O-O-P, and MONSOON SUMMER is no longer in hardcover. What do you do? Nothing. Books have lives. I was shocked to find out how many of Marilyn Sachs' books are O-O-P, including MARV and VERONICA GANZ, two great reads. Now, though, with Print on Demand, your story can still be accessible.
suzi w. said…
Glad you have some celebrating. I hear that Kirkus is the key.

beckylevine said…
I guess you go with the overall balance and remember that the big reason we're here is the actual writing? I think you've got some future readers who won't be so happy, though. Will you buy up any of the remainders, do you think? (I'm sensing another blog post here!)
Here's to more celebrations as our books are born and touch others, Mitali. Standing O for libraries where our words still whisper for many years to come, even after they are out of print.
Okay. I ended up pulling my thoughts together at my blog. xox
Mitali, you totally rock. I love your honesty and chutzpah.

And you are so right on about writing the next book...that, really, is the bottom line.
Anjali said…

Keep writing! An author friend, who was recently #2 on the NYT, just had many of her early O-O-P titles re-issued with new covers, twenty years after the books were first published. Very cool. A book never really dies. One day, when you're even more famous than you already are, your back list titles will be re-issued with beautiful new covers.

Have you requested reversion of rights for your O-O-P titles? The same friend advised me to request reversion of rights for Maya Running (Maya is O-O-P too, boo hoo) so I can control any re-issue that might happen bazillions of years from now.

I skimmed back over your blog entries about First Daughter. Did you read Tess Gerritsen's entry about making ourselves crazy trying to figure out why a book makes it or doesn't make it? You can only do your best - so many factors are out of our control.

I haven't read your First Daughter books but the covers are wonderful and your writing is always amazing. What else can you do? We can truly make ourselves crazy worrying about all this stuff.

BTW, just as an aside, Chick Lit is passe, gone, kaput, dead, sayonara. So if you're thinking the covers were not Chick Lit enough - that's a GOOD thing.

I shouldn't be giving you advice, as you're way ahead of me in your career, but these are my measly two cents, for what they're worth!
Mordena said…
Mitali, you'll be pleased to know that your books were featured VERY prominently on display tables at the recent Book Fair at my daughter's school, and there were many kids leafing through them.
Mitali Perkins said…
Thanks, y'all. I'm leaving Little Whinging behind, thanks to you. I am blessed and grateful to be in this vocation.
BGurung said…
Thanks very much for sharing, Mitali, especially about the out of print letter.

You're inspiring in this open, honest statement.
BGurung said…
Thanks, Mitali. You've inspired a whole discussion on out of print status.

I've shared my thoughts here: