This installment may be shorter and more blunt (blunter? That doesn’t sound right) than usual, but I’m rocking a 101 degree fever and I don’t have the strength to exercise what little tact I have, or to write a long blog post.
Ayelet Waldman went on a twitter rampage when her novel, Love and Treasure, was not selected for the New York Times list of the one hundred notable books of 2014. The Daily Dot has the tweets here, in which she she says “Fuck the fucking NY times,” who reviewed the book positively, and demands that her followers to pre-order the paperback version to make her feel better.
I had never heard of Ayelet Waldman before this incident. To be honest, I wouldn’t have heard of her even if her novel had been deemed “notable.” Because I don’t read literary fiction, or at least, not much literary fiction. I’m a memoirs and genre fiction girl, and I don’t often see those types of books praised as “notable.” I’m sure there are plenty of people who use the notable books list to inform their reading choices, but if those readers care enough about fiction, they will seek out books that aren’t on that list, too.
Too many authors see themselves as competing for readers. I’ve never met a reader who only bought one book their entire lives. There’s a thing I hear repeated often, that just because a reader buys another author’s book, that doesn’t mean they won’t by your book. There is a phenomenon wherein certain authors’ new releases will absolutely sink every other release in their genre around their publication date; I don’t know why that happens, but it totally sucks. But that doesn’t mean something unfair is happening to you.
Every author feels like their book is better than everyone else’s book, that we deserve to sell more, that we deserve special treatment from publishers, that we should be critically praised. We can’t control those things, and we certainly can’t change them by throwing a tantrum. I get it, complaining is tempting; I’ve done it myself in weaker moments, albeit not on the same scale as some. But we can make a choice to accept what we have and move on, or destroy ourselves with unhappiness.
I choose the first one. I will probably never make the New York Times bestseller list. In fact, I’m pretty sure I won’t make the USA Today list again, either. I’m not going to win awards, I’m not going to have world-wide buzz. If it hasn’t happened by now, it’s not going to. My biggest books are likely behind me, but you know what? I have a niche readership who appreciate the books I have out there, and I’m able to make a living from my writing (thank you, by the way). That’s good enough.
It should be good enough for everyone else, too. And if it’s not, they’re tools.