By nature, a writer works in isolation. Not literally, but when it comes to connecting with the public, bookstores, publishers and editors, the writer is isolated from people’s reactions. And as such, it’s difficult to know where you stand. Is my standing in the community growing? Am I on the way up or the way down? If the publisher tells you that they’re dropping you, then that’s a very good indicator that your personal stock is on the slide, but there are some subtle indicators to take note of.
One such indicator is what I call the “And Many More” syndrome. This occurs in the magazine and anthology markets. The magazine or anthology cover screams, “featuring stories by …” and it lists half a dozen names then tails off with the dreaded “…and many more.” “And many more,” a breed of people who fill up the pages while the big name people take all the glory. As you’ve probably guessed, I’ve been in the “and many more” or “and others” bucket for quite a while, but things are changing. I’m slowing rising above the parapet to be a name in my own right. As much as it sucks to be relegated to the “and many more” side of the tracks, it’s quite a lift to see my name appear on the magazine cover.
It first happened a couple of years ago. I’d sold a story to a mystery magazine and it was quite a shock when I received my contributor copy to find my name third on the cover. Recently my name received second billing in a horror magazine and they had some pretty well known writers in that particular issue. My last article for Writer’s Digest was mentioned on the cover. The editor quoted from it in her editorial and the piece got a very nice spread with lots of glossy stills to illustrate. Yay, me!
One spot still eludes me. I’ve never been the headliner. My stories haven’t been the inspiration for that particular issue’s cover. I hope to get there soon. I can handle it.
On the downside, I’ve not totally risen above the minutia. Depending on whom else I’m sharing page space with; I get the bump back down to minors. I returned to my “and many more” status for the promotion of the anthology, Eulogies. I haven’t achieved the rip-roaring status of sitting pretty on the cover of every magazine or book I appear in, I’ve got to work on that.
So what can I take from my on and off status as a name on magazine covers? I’m a bubbler on a low heat. I’ve yet to reach the status where I’m so damn hot that I boil over onto every cover I grace. That’s good. I’ve got work to do—I’ve always got work to do—but I can live with that. My purpose is to keep on keeping on and doing my best to break through.
Postscript: If you look above, it does look like I made it to the promised land. 🙂