This post, by Vincent Zandri, originally appeared on the New Wave Authors blog on 9/21/12.
I’ve finally gone and done it.
Come December I will have thirteen books in print with the publication of Murder By Moonlight. So why is this number so significant? What’s the big deal?
Thirteen years ago, almost to the day, I published my first "big" novel with a Random House imprint. They gave me tons of money, wined and dined me. I even played drums in my editor’s band and ummm, dated my publicist. If you want to call it that. I was fresh out of writing school. Young. Pretty good looking (Not Barry Eisler good looking, but passable). Newly divorced and living the life of the rock star.
I remember tossing twenties around to the hotel clerks asking them to bring bottles of booze up to the room so that there would be plenty on hand when the guests came. The guests usually consisted of literary agents, writers, artists, musicians. The room was so full of cigarette and pot smoke you could hardly see. The booze flowed like a river and it just happened to snow during the warm weather, if you catch my drift. I found myself living the dream, and living it hard. It was everything I always wanted. Bright lights, big city, big ego, big books, big future…
All I had to do to maintain the life of the rock star was write one book per year. My hot shot agent would take care of the rest. My lifestyle wouldn’t be supported by sales…Sales?…What the fuck are sales? It would be supported by big advances. Sales weren’t sexy in the eyes of my then agent. It was measured in the amount of advance money he could demand. Six and seven figure advances were what made him hard. Not sales figures typed out on spread sheets. Advances caused headlines in Publishers Weekly. Sales trickled in and never made up for the big advance. Well, almost never, anyway.
Somehow I wrote the second book. But something happened along the way. My imprint got sucked into another. The new imprint editor looked at the advance money owed me and compared it to real sales and nearly puked. The firm honored their contractual committment and paid me, but as soon as the second book was published, I was shown the door. Goodbye publisher. Goodbye parties. Goodbye rock-star status. Goodbye New York City. Goodbye ego. Goodbye hot shot agent.