Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The View from the Cheap Seats

Posted by: Jeffe Kennedy
We're celebrating the release of THE DEVIL'S DOORBELL this week, so I'm sharing this terrific wordswag that contributor Megan Mulry made for me.

I think it fits here because, hey, the supernatural!

It's been super fun working on this project with these amazing other authors I love - both as friends and as writers. It's also the first self-published group project that I've spearheaded. I contributed to another group anthology, and self-published some novellas and backlist stories, but not a "bigger" project like this.

And it's super gratifying to see it sitting at #5 in erotic anthologies this morning, the day after release!

It's interesting to be getting into self-publishing at this point in my career. As many of you know, I started with digital-first presses, like Carina Press, which brought many of us here, and moved from that into more traditional publishing. These days, as with many authors in traditional publishing, I'm moving more and more into a hybrid state. I'm putting eggs into as many baskets as I can.

Which, I'm frankly glad to have the many opportunities writers do today.

The other day, though, a friend made an exasperated comment to me about how she advised me two years ago to self-publish instead of doing digital first. And it reminded me of this moment, from The American President, a movie that's a wonderful romance, too:

Huge thanks to Adam Sass for making the gif for me!

I love that moment when Michael Douglas, as President Shepherd, asks, "Is the view pretty good from the cheap seats?" Now, I'll caveat that Martin Sheen, as AJ, happens to have a great comeback here. He's a kingmaker, an archetype I love. He replies that if he wasn't the one in the background, giving advice, then Shepherd would still be the most popular professor at the University of Wisconsin.

Fair enough. The moral being, the advice of the kingmaker should always be heeded.

But, also, we're all kings of our own careers and no one gets to second-guess the decisions we make. Advice is one thing. Hindsight is another.

There's a tendency in publishing - perhaps in all things, but I see it a lot in publishing these days - to look for the Magic Bullet. Many espouse the One True Way. Maybe this is a side-effect of the gold rush syndrome. It's easy to look at the very successful outliers and say, "See? THAT is how you do it." Or worse, "THAT is how *you* should have done it."

Which is complete and utter bullshit.

Even if I had done exactly what, say, Marie Force did, there is no guarantee I'd be making the money she is. In fact, I feel it's a sure thing that I would not be, because I'm not her and I don't have her same path in life. Nor is my path hers.

I think the problem is that people want to reduce life decisions to a series of formulas. If you put in x, add y, you'll get z. But this thinking is reductive to a damaging extreme. The universe is a complex, complicated and delightfully random place. Nobody knows the meaning of life or what we're here to learn.

I'm pretty sure, though, that regardless of religious or philosophical persuasion, we can all agree that the meaning of life is not to make as much money as possible. Which means that God, or Tao, or the Universe, or what-have-you, does not set our paths according to rewarding us with vast fortunes. That may come our way, but usually that's part of teaching us some other lesson.

Which is why I always think of the view from the cheap seats. It's easy for other people to sit back and say what we should do. But all we can do is make the best decision that we can at the time. I made my decisions for good reasons and I regret nothing. Even the directions I've taken in life that felt like "wasted" time or dead ends have all contributed to who am I today. I put a lot of faith in that.

Besides - all in all - there's worse things than being the most popular professor at the University of Wisconsin.


  1. Well said! And congratulations on the new book, such a great gathering of authors :)

    1. Thanks! I'm so privileged to work with these high caliber writers!


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