The New York Knicks were making a run in the basketball playoffs this spring and I got caught up in the enthusiasm and started talking smack to my uncle, who roots with equal fervor for the Boston Celtics, and my brother-in-law who defends his Brooklyn Nets.
I got carried away, as all sports fans do, and made crazy claims, saying they have a chance to go all the way, that their best player, Melo, could end up in the Hall of Fame, and that the Knicks, because they have the oldest players this season, are America’s Team – a team anyone can appreciate because they are a team pieced together with guys who have one last run in them. Two of them retired before the season ended. They have a 35- and a 29-year-old rookie on the team. They’re old.
To backup my enthusiasm, I made bets with them. Uncle Michael lost $20 when the Knicks knocked the Celts out in round one. My brother-in-law dropped $20 when his prediction the Knicks would lose in 5 to Indiana in the second round proved false. A colleague at work lost $10 to me as well. But I stopped making bets because I realized the odds would not be in my favor. I’d been betting based on some facts and lots of emotion.
I have a chance to win money when I correctly analyze a situation but when I let my emotions or passions blind me, I have a good chance of losing money. I believe too many authors bet on their books out of hope and not fact, out of emotion, and not reason, and out of desire, rather than supportive data.
The last thing you want to do is bet on feelings, and not the reality of the marketplace, but really, most authors do just the opposite – they are all about playing out a fantasy or a dream.
Though writing a book and expecting it to be widely read is more a hope than an expectation, anyone who picks up a pen -or computer- does so knowing they are betting on emotion. Writing is the art form of the mentally ill. We do it for ego, for therapy, and for pleasure. We do it because we think others will like what we say, that we’ll feel liked, even vindicated as a result.
We act like the underdog superhero – we think we can rise from obscurity and anonymity to be loved, to be praised, to be showered with money.
Writing, above all else, humbles us, because most writers are forced to confront their fate. You can bet on that.
Interview With Author Lance Manion
1. What type of books do you write? I put them in the humor genre but some of them aren't funny. Sometimes this is intentional and sometimes it isn't.
2. What is your newest book about? It is a collection of short stories aimed at provoking a unique thought in the reader's head. I tend to steer away from immersion and instead provide a framework where the reader can fill in a lot of their own gaps. They know much better than I what amuses or moves them.
3. What inspired you to write it? I firmly believe there aren't enough weird things for people to read. Our culture is contently pushing people into believing that people like Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers are interesting and talented. There has to be obscure writers and artists out there fighting against this. To plant the seeds of discontent amongst the unwashed masses and expose talk show hosts for the 'safe' products they are.
4. What is the writing process like for you? I keep it simple. I write when I get an idea. I put it down and then don't revisit it. My first two books I didn't even edit them. I just put all the stories together and put them out. Now I use an editor but I try and keep the 'garage band' vibe going. I'm a big believer in the subconscious providing the most interesting stuff so I try to avoid cleaning things up for fear of losing something that I never intended to write.
5. What did you do before you became an author? I'm still not an author. I write but I hesitate to call myself a writer because nobody pays me to do it. I was told once by a literary agent to get famous doing something other than writing and then come back to her about writing a book so on some level I'm not trying to be an 'author' anyway. If I did want that tag I'd have a double mastectomy and then put out a novel about my brave fight. Boom ... instant author status.
6. How does it feel to be a published author? I'm self-published so that immediately removes a lot of the arrogance that comes with being 'published'. In some way it makes it better because it's more organic. When I hear from somebody in Australia or Hungary saying they enjoyed one of my books I not only feel good that they enjoyed it but I feel proud that I was able to reach them in the first place. I once got a note from someone in Spain saying they didn't like my book so now everyone in Spain is dead to me.
7. Any advice for struggling writers? Keep struggling and avoid advice, especially from self-published people like myself. The last thing you want to do is start to write as if you're taking an English class in college. Just write and then hope it resonates with someone. Be honest and leave no stone unturned. Don't aspire for 'traditional' success. Once you lose the feeling of struggling half the joy of writing goes with it.
8. Where do you see book publishing heading? The playing field is going to become a lot more level with the new eReader technology. Big publishing houses won't hold all the cards now that anyone can publish a book. The faster we see 1,000 authors selling 1,000 books each instead of 1 movie star or sports hero selling 1 million copies of a shitty book the faster we'll see readers becoming energized again. It will also signal an end to the self-important agents and critics who think they control what gets read. ¡Viva la Revolución!
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013