• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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More Money, More Cash, More Hoes (what)

How do you define “making it” in publishing terms?  Money, acclaim, awards, or as some people swear, the joy of doing it. Getting that first agent, contract, royalty statement with a check attached.  Holding your head up high at a family wedding or bar mitzvah? Having publishers vie for your self-published novel? Seeing a stack of your books in a store, or even one wedged into a shelf? The New York Times Book Review?  The Daily Show?   Is it fan letters? Publishing before your 30? 40? 50? Having a car sent for you? A major motion picture starring (your favorite actor). Being wooed by Andrew Wylie? A plum table at The Four Seasons ( I’m old school). Respect?

42 Responses

  1. […] don’t even know where to start with the AmyG meet-up (thanks Betsy)— of course there is way too much for one post — but I know you want photos so here […]

  2. CHOCOLATES
    on hotel pillows
    in a city
    you have only dreamed of
    when you are so poor
    you can’t pay
    the power bill
    back home
    a reader who said
    she’d read
    my book 17 times

    Yeah E M F thing
    only connect

  3. How about a good, well-rested sleep, without the business of words keeping you awake all night, as Anne Sexton once wrote. And you know what happened to her.

  4. Paying the rent. Paying for food, for gas, for Lego minifigures and shoes. Swiping my credit card without clenching. Making enough money that my wife doesn’t worry all the time. Making enough money that I can think I’m giving my son as good a shot as my dad gave me. There’s nothing I wouldn’t trade for that. I would burn everything I’ve ever written and everything I will ever write for that.

  5. I need it all …. a first agent, the acclaim, respect, hundreds of thousand of copies sold, an original story (never seen before!), packed audiences, et al. I’m a bloodsucker. Why lie.

    • Of course that was yesterday … when I was feeling all that. Today I’m back to despising the blank page and hoping I have even one new idea to spit out. What goes up comes right the hell down.

  6. It would be nice to make a living, but the fantasy comes alive at the family event when I answer why, yes I’ve p…. eh, who am I kidding? They’d just find something else to pick at. Self gratification? I write because I can. Or how about I don’t know?

  7. Don’t need the fluff or the limo or ill-posed photos in the papers (have had that already!). Want the real stuff: agent, contract, publisher and/or producer AND a tangible entity (or three!) earning its keep and not just hogging hard drive space.

    Fortunately, I have the patience of a tree.

  8. A quickly disappearing collection of books for sale at the bookstore would be good. BUT.

    15 years ago I wrote a non-fiction book published by a small publishing house and it is still in print.

    But the real payoff and what I really want is what I’ve already got, “your book changed my life,” “your book gave me hope…” I hear that it has made a huge difference for people. God, this sounds sappy. So I’ll say what it’s about. It was a primer for laity about clergy sexual abuse — male clergy and adult female victims in protestant churches. I wrote it to be useful to people in crisis, as when the shit hits the fan. Easy to digest, no big words. Easy to access when you can’t think straight. For victims, their families, friends, mothers, and parishioners. It still gets a lot of use and I just heard that at least a few copies go out (given away) every week. So that is the most gratifying experience a writer could ever want. I can only hope the upcoming novel is as useful, and rewarding to read.
    Sorry for all the gooeyness.

  9. You never make it.

  10. I think having written a book someone liked enough to offer money to publish it and in turn having people shell out hard-earned money to read my words – to get the story I’m trying to tell and feeling moved in some way by it.

  11. I will have made it when the story in my head matches the story on the page.
    I think getting an agent, and editor and a publisher will be a cake walk comparatively.

  12. i don’t imagine i’ll make it but i’ll try. that’s enough for me.

  13. I went to a book signing tonight where there weren’t nearly enough chairs. Readers stood shoulder to shoulder and sat in aisles where they couldn’t even see the reading, and they were thrilled to be there. I hope that the author thinks he’s “made it.”

  14. Just a little high would do, a warm thought at night, the terror dissolved for an hour. I did love your book, it’s quite a canon. Best wishes from Italy

  15. Four legs? Nah. I’d need 8 arms to come anywhere near making it. All day long I tell my little angels, “I am lot of things but a cephalopod is not one of them.”

    • glad you were brave enough to comment on the legs – I lose my vocabulary looking at that photo

  16. For working my garden, I need only one hoe (and one shovel, and one rake).

  17. I wonder if writers can feel they’ve ever made it. I managed an indie bookstore and a famed author—Pulitzer, National Book Award, you-name-it, with the agent whom you mentioned, and certainly the reputation and the money—used to come into the shop frequently. He never browsed but would always head straight to the shelf of his backlist titles, look at them for a moment or two and then leave. We couldn’t quite figure if he was ‘just checking’ to make sure we were stocking all his books, or if he was just reassuring himself.

  18. I know I’m a successful parent (warts and all) because people look at my kids and think they’re awesome, interesting, ethical, funny, kind, smart, etc… I’ll know I’ve “made it” in publishing when I’m similarly acknowledged for my work, whether it’s my own writing or an author I’ve worked with. BTW, really creepy picture, Betsy.

  19. Famous author checking his shelf of baclkist titles. I can only hope he was wearing dark glasses. That about says it all. When I look for my book (and pretty much never find it) I feel the way I used to looking a Playboy magazines at the little Pharmacy around the corner from Miss Stodell’s School of dance where I was the only girl who wore underpants under my leotard.

  20. Easy enough. I want to be read and make readers uneasy. No. Strike that. I want to make them squirm. I want them to beg for the next Diana Trees story.

    I want them screaming in their sleep.

  21. It’s a moving target. When I first signed with my agent, she asked where I saw myself as a writer in five years. I said, “If I can into a bookstore and see my name on a cover, I can die happy.”

    Of course once that happened, the goal changed, as I imagine it will continue to.

    Still, at this moment I can’t help feeling absolutely certain that if I ever open the paper and see my name on the NYT best seller list, I can die happy …

  22. I always think it will be the high school reunion, but in reality that will be part of the nightmare and I know it. The other thing I’m waiting for is a Terry Gross interview that goes so well she and I go out for a drink together afterwards.

  23. I agree. Moving target. Today, it’s the hopes that my new book will sell. Tomorrow, that it will sell big, Next Wednesday, that I will ever have an idea in my head again that might translate to the page.

  24. Getting published would be a start and then I’m sure I’d want more. It would be nice to say “I’m a writer.” to the person who just asked, “What do you do?” and not have the exchange be followed by an uncomfortable shifting of position, downcast eyes and hasty departure. Of course, once I’m published the conversation would be, “I’m a writer.”
    “Uh-huh. What do you do for work?”

  25. Yeah, all of the above works for me…except for this Andrew Wylie character. Ain’t got no idea who that boy may be. Guess I’m clueless, as well as too lazy to google him.

  26. Making the NYT list pretty much did it for me at the time. Now I want a movie or HBO deal so fucking bad.

  27. Readers–that’s what i want–People who I’ve never met walking down the roads I remember.

  28. Readers, who are looking forward to the next novel.
    Enough $ to help in a real way to my budget.

  29. True story …

    Jay Leno was playing Ft. Lewis the other day, entertaining the troops, and I was doing a signing at the PX at Ft. Lewis earlier the same day.

    Jay played to an audience of 3,000 maybe.

    I had a nice little rush of about 15 people, then a long lull for the next hour and 45 minutes where I signed backstock and made small talk with my handlers, who were very pleasant by the way.

    I signed a copy of my book and sent it over to Jay via the base chief.

    That’s real life.

    Will Jay read it? Will Jay love it? Will Jay be so wowed by my book that his assistant will phone me up and breathlessly invite me to be on his show where my book will be seen by trillions, and the numbers on Amazon will, at long last, dip into single digits?

    That’s fantasy.

    But the good part, the part that lets me sleep at night, is the confidence to know that Jay Leno does not hold my career in his hands. God love the man. A call from his assistant would be life changing, yes. But Jay is not in control. Not ultimately. No sirree bob.

    • Sounds like a great experience all-around! Thanks for allowing us (i.e. the huddled masses unpublished) to see The Other Side.

  30. I want to write books that people will buy for the rest of my life. I guess I’ll never know if I’ve made it.

  31. I want to make August say, I read your work. It didn’t suck.

    Only then will my writing life be complete. You’re aiming too low, Betsy.

  32. Hey, Patti Smith and Just Kids was just a Jeopardy clue. And a contestant got it right. Tada.

  33. […] Write For Free. By Elsie Chapman I really would. It was never about the cash. This post from author/agent Betsy Lerner’s site talks about what “making it” in […]

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