I hear from my close writing friends that I should drop my pseudonym's career and get on with the NY-published dream. But then one doesn't have to look far to hear the horror stories.

The prevailing message seems to be that thou shalt not query with the expectation of publication. And then one shouldn't expect more than a thousand dollar - five thousand dollar advance. One shouldn't expect publisher support for marketing. If a publisher does promise co-op and promo, don't expect them to follow through. Beware getting stuck in the midlist. Just because you get a book published, doesn't mean a bookstore will carry it. If you are in the midlist, watch out: if the publisher doesn't promo you, then your book won't be picked up by bookstores, and you'll be screwed without a fair chance. Don't expect to make a living.

I think I missed at least a hundred other warnings. The pressure to "break out" is bad enough. It seems if I manage even that, I'll be in for more horrors than I can count!

Which led me to ask myself, is it really a wise career move to query NY? Or is it just an ego thing? Is there any hope at all?

I don't want false positive-thinking mumbo jumbo. I want to know: is it really all bad?

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I haven't been published (yet, I hope). I have a NY agent I like (who I found through the standard query process), and I've heard all the horror stories, which I tend to think are ever so slightly exaggerated. (After all, the publisher wants to make some money, too. Some of the stories I've heard make it sound like they sit around in a nefarious cabal, paying advances only for the entertainment of watching the writer suffer longer.)

For the sake of argument, let's assume all of the stories are true, and things really are as bad as can be for the fledgling author. I can still only think of one answer, if you really want to be a writer. It's in the form of a brief fable.

A man is sitting at a bar with a friend. The friend finishes his drink, picks up his change, and says good night.

"Where are you going?" says the man.

"I'm going over to try my luck at Eddie Newton's poker game," the friend says.

"But that's a rigged game," says the man.

"I know," says the friend. "But it's the only game in town."

Tough gig or not, this is the only game in town for those who want to be writers. Let's just suck it up and help each other through it as best we can.

Good luck.
Spyscribbler, yeah, that's pretty much it. The average advance for mystery novels is around 8K (last figure I heard). Whether you get into bookstores or reviewed depends on how much support your publisher gives your book. There's a lot of luck involved which is why most writers need to keep their day jobs. But if writing is in your blood, what choice do you have? As Dana so eloquently put it, it might be a rigged game but it's the only game. And people do get lucky. And there are things people can do to help create their own luck.
All true. Though I do not understand what that has to do with New York. Is there an alternative?
Sure! E-publishing, small presses, nooks and crannies, etc. :-)
Dave says, "But if writing is in your blood, what choice do you have?"

Amen. At this point in your career, I don't think that you need to worry about all these warnings and worst-case scenarios. What--at least fifty percent of marriages end in divorce but that doesn't stop being from getting married (or maybe it should!). We know having children will cost at least $100,000, keep us up at night, and drive us crazy when they become adolescents, yet people still keep wanting babies.

Yes, the writing life (which includes promotional business) is stressful and renumeration is low (although it doesn't have to be as low as you've described even for debut writers). But to be a published storyteller is also an amazing experience that will change you. You will join an incredible cadre of professionals that will encourage and challenge you. You will make connections with strangers who understand what you are trying to convey and have been waiting for your stories. At its best it's very magical. At its worst it can be gut-wrenching, touching on your every insecurity.
And Amen to that -- especially the last two sentences.
Wot Naomi said. I'd focus on what you personally get out of writing and try not to be disappointed by what you don't get out of it.

I wouldn't quit my day job, but querying - what have you got to lose? Some time, effort, ego. The peculiar thing about this business is that most people, not matter where they fall on the "success" spectrum, seem to find grounds for disappointment.

If you ever feel down, you can check out the actor's life.. That's no bowl of cherries, either.
You should definitely query New York. That's where the majors are. And keep doing it. There is an element of luck involved, but you increase the odds that your book will hit the right agent at the right time by sending out queries, and not stopping.

And of course there's hope.


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