On occasion we hear about when an author goes ballistic. Usually about reviews or sometimes about how a publisher treats them. We rarely hear about when an author stays classy in the face of obvious annoyance. Well unless you’re reading this article right now.
Let me introduce you to Mary Robinette Kowal. I am not one of her readers, although that might change in the future, but I am one of her listeners, as she recently joined one of my favorite writing podcasts Writing Excuses where she has proven herself very capable of offering advice and knowledge regarding writing.
Unsurprisingly she is an author of several books of which the most recent one, Glamour in Glass, had a printing error. The printer somehow omitted the first line of the novel. Does she rant and rave to the net? No. She takes the problem, stays classy, and turns it into something even better: A way to advertise her new book and interact with her fans.
Her blog post regarding the subject discusses the first lines of books in general, offers an interactive pop quiz, and then proceeds to enumerate a list of ways readers can correct their novels including asking her to pen the initial line herself if one attends a signing of the book. How awesome is that? The list also includes digital stickers, a digital book mark, a free signed bookmark with a self-addressed & stamped envelope (SASE), a temporary tatoo with a SASE, and the best part, she is selling a t-shirt with the missing first line. And of course you could read the first line on the webpage itself, if you wanted, or just start with the second line!
Despite Glamour in Glass being the second in a series, I’m tempted to purchase it. For those of you who don’t know, book collectors often see more value in a book that has a miss printing than perfectly bound books. I make no assumptions or assertions regarding Mary Robinette Kowel’s bibliography’s future worth but it does add some appealing value, aside from the story within.
So aspiring authors out there, take notes. This is how you handle someone else’s mistake of your work and turn it around into something awesome. Don’t believe me? Mur Lafferty, author and creator of my other favorite writing podcast, I Should Be Writing, agrees with me.
Every artist must eventually take one of two paths: the first promises long hours of hard, thankless work and no guarantee of recognition in your lifetime, much less any financial reward. Instead, you are guaranteed a life of purpose, where your work comes only from what you value, expressed in the most earnest form imaginable.
The second path is the same thing, but you have a ponytail.
The following are scanned images of a letter written by Austin Madison, an animator at Pixar. He wrote it for the Animator Letters Project, a website that encourages professional animators to write letters to those who need the encouragement. While I have no dream to become an animator, I am working at becoming a novel writer and some of these letters, the one below in particular, has a message that all should know, when pursing your own creative endeavours.
(Page 1 of 2) (continue reading…)