Monday, June 15, 2009

A Clarification

I had a great time at the BYU writer's conference. Hanging out with so many writers and book biz people is always good times. I felt like my workshop on Friday afternoon went well except for one thing that I want to clarify, and maybe it's something we can all learn from.

(Oh, sorry Grammar Psychos. I'm talking to you Annette! Try again: Maybe it's something from which we can all learn. Or whatever.)

One of the questions at the end of my workshop went as follows: Did your books with the smaller publishers help you get the book deal with Random House?

In hindsight, I gave a stupid answer. I said that those books neither helped nor hurt, that they were irrelevant. I can tell by your gasp that you took my response the same as many others. It sounds ungrateful, arrogant, and discouraging to those who have books with small pubs.

Well, this is what I meant: No pub is going to buy your book just because you already have a book. They will always make their ultimate decision based on the merits of the book they are considering for publication.

The only exception would be mega mega superstars. If Stephenie Meyer proposed a book about foot fungus and how it affects primate odor sensory functions, it'd probably go to auction, just based on her name. But most authors would have to show they have a book that can sell based on the book itself.

What I did NOT mean was that my Jimmy Fincher books and THE 13TH REALITY didn't help me get to where I am with RH.

They helped me in countless ways. Gave me a resume to get my foot in the door, showed I know how to work to promote, proved I can maintain a fan base, pushed me to attend conferences and workshops, created a path for me to meet many, many authors and agents and publishers. Led to a lot of networking. Led to my becoming good friends with Sara Zarr. Which led to my getting Michael as an agent. Which led to my book deal.

So, in hindsight, my answer should have been a resounding YES. They did help. Tremendously. However, in the end, I know for a fact that neither Michael nor Krista would've bought MAZE unless they believed in its potential, regardless of what I'd done before.

Why am I harping on about this? Because a good friend of mine who has a book coming out with my original publisher took my answer the wrong way and was very discouraged. However, and very luckily for me, she had the guts to approach Krista and me afterward and we had a really great discussion. I think things were well clarified and I know she's on the right path.

We can all learn a lot from... I'm not sure she'd want me to mention her name. Let's call her FISA (Future International Superstar Author). FISA is doing everything right. Writing like mad, attending workshops, taking opportunities when they present themselves, doing school visits and book signings, networking, networking, networking. The irony here is she's pounding the pavement like I've always preached, and yet I almost gave her the wrong message that she was wasting her time.

For that, FISA, I'm sorry. And I'm so proud of you. You ARE on the right path, and it leads to greatness. I have no doubt whatsoever.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification. (Not that I was at the conference, but it was enlightening nonetheless.)

Speaking of conferences and book signings (you didn't mention the latter, but I did) are you scheduled for anything at the end of July or beginning of August? I get to fly out to Utah and I was hoping to bring a copy of one of your books for your signature. (My 20 year high school reunion. Yes, that is another classic 30 Rock episode, isn't it?) I was just wondering. Or maybe, a bunch of your fans here and you could meet for lunch...? Would that be possible? No? Too stalkerish...?

The Scarlet Tart said...

Nothing is too stalkerish for Dashner.

Laura said...

I think I will forver consider the name FISA one of the highest Dashnog honor awards.
Thanks for having such a big heart.

James Dashner said...

nkrell, that sounds like a great plan to me! Contact me as it gets closer.

And I believe FISA has outed herself! :) Laura, I'm so rooting for you.....

Magenta said...

This is pretty funny! I instantly noticed the name Annette in your post, since I have a twin sister named Annette. But I don't think she reads or comments your blog very often, so I was a bit confused that you were talking about her. (My sister and I are semi- grammar psychos, since we're Virgos.)

But I've reached the conclusion that you are not talking about my twin. So who is this Annette you speak of?

Good luck, FISA! Also, congrats on getting an awesome nickname from the Dashner Dude!

Tristi Pinkston said...

Okay, Dashner, there's a serious lack of ARC happening right now. Tristi = ARC.

Allyson Condie said...

James, I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation at the workshop. And I think it's great that you and the author were able to talk and get things all sorted out. That was classy on both your parts.

Melissa Cunningham said...

Wish I could have been there. I am going to the LUW conference in Sept. though. Are you going to that one?

Diva Donna said...

Hey there, glad to see that you are not getting so superstar huge that you forgot how you got started. I for one appreciated hearing the long and twisted journey you took to getting your book deal with RH and getting a fab agent. So thanks for clarifying that all of it was important.

James Dashner said...

Annette is a good friend who is a grammar nazi. :)

Melissa, I WILL be at LUW Roundup. Can't wait!

Tristi, I don't have any! Well, I have one copy. Ask RH. You have a blog. Go for it.

Ally, it was great to see you at the conference.

Unknown said...

I have officially used up/invented the last Dashnog word, because today's word is "kingship". That's almost as bad as the day I got "thing".

Kingship: not as wide as a queenship.


J.N. Future Author said...

I wish I could have gone to that conference so badly!!!

oh, at your last conference, you showed those 2 pictures of you as a teenager. I forgot to tell you, put I was able to take a shot at those for that 1.43 seconds you shoed it ^.^

Blackmail for all! ^,~

Unknown said...

Hook it UP, JN!!!!!

J Scott Savage said...


A couple of thoughts. You were right in pointing out that just because you have published books before, you are not guaranteed another book deal.

I think it's important for authors to know that you have to keep working and improving. It's not a club that you get to stay in just because you've published previously. So you are right in saying that your CFI and SM books did not get you the Maze Runner deal.

That being said, every book you publish (or even write for that matter) is bringing you one step closer to the deal you want because your writing, knowledge, marketing, etc all improves.

As someone who has watched you improve your skills with every book, I can definitely say that JF and 13th Reality were big stepping stones to getting you where you are now.

Laura, can't wait to read your book. Just remember that you are earning the right to get that big deal, and when you do, you'll appreciate it so much more than people who didn't work their way up.

L.T. Elliot said...

James, you're spot on with the nick-name for Laura. She's pretty darn awesome in my opinion. (It was so great to meet you in person, Laura!)

While I'm glad you clarified on your blog what you meant, I didn't get the impression that you didn't value your journey. Don't beat yourself up. Glad you helped FISA know how great she is though.