November 2nd, 2012

Put your money where your mouth is

Yesterday I turned in the revision of Levitating Las Vegas, my New Adult paranormal romantic comedy coming out on May 7 with Pocket Star, an ebook-only line from Simon & Schuster. As you may know, that was my NaNoWriMo book from 2008. Selling it took a lot of revisions and a lot of time...but ultimately, it took the market finally waking up to New Adult books, which makes me very happy.

I have always loved this book (as I have told you repeatedly). I'm thrilled that it sold. And as I was revising it, I was hoping against hope that it's something other people will like as much as I do, so that I can continue to write books set in this fictional world. If this book sells well, the publisher will want more. If it doesn't, they won't. Period.

And that's where you come in. The internet has opened so many possibilities for people to make a living in ways they couldn't have before. People can write books and sell them to a publisher like I do, or they can publish them on their own. They can design covers and ads. They can make crafts and sell them. I have already voted for President Obama, for many reasons, but one of the most important is that his Affordable Care Act will allow self-employed folks like me to work from home and entrepreneurs to start their own businesses without having to be married to someone who has health insurance through work, and without worrying about getting sick and being faced with devastating health bills if they're on their own. Governor Romney has said he will repeal this legislation if elected, but if we keep the President and the law, we'll all have a lot more choices about how we make a living in the coming years.

However, self-employed people in the arts can't make a living at all if you don't support them. Publishers often decide whether to buy another book from a writer after the last book has been on shelves only a few weeks. Those few weeks of sales can make or break a career. When the fourth Twilight book came out...I know a lot of people loved this series, but some fans were disappointed in this last installment, and non-fans had a field day. So many of us YA authors had been very jealous of Ms. Meyer's success, and I remember thinking at the time that this is the height to which we are aspiring: public derision? and lots of money. Because people were purchasing this expensive hardback book just so they could read it and make fun of it online. Assuming they did not have unlimited funds to spend on books, they were buying this book they knew they would not like instead of four books they might have liked very much. Meyer's sales went up, ensuring she can now write whatever she wants for the rest of her life and publishers will buy it. Simultaneously, lots of my friends who are fantastic writers were not getting their contracts renewed--the writer's equivalent of getting laid off--because their books were not selling enough copies.

My point is certainly not to blame Meyer. The current popularity of YA owes a lot to her, because her books made readers out of a lot of reluctant teens (and adults!). My point is that your dollar makes a difference. It is a vote. It is your voice in which writers keep writing, which musicians keep recording, which magazines stay in business, which local bands continue to think giving up their weekends is worthwhile, which stores and restaurants stay open. We hear a lot about political voters being reluctant to go to the polls next Tuesday because they think their one vote won't make a difference, but of course we know it does, especially in such a tight election. In the same way, your voice telling your friends about a book you enjoyed is incredibly helpful to the author, but your vote--purchasing the book rather than borrowing it or skipping it, and purchasing it now before it's too late and the author has been let go by her publisher--is the deciding factor.