One of the great things about attending a writer’s conference is that you hear juicyÂ gossip.Â I myself am worthless as a source of gossip; living up here in Siberia, otherwise known as Maine, I never know anything about anybody. I rely on others to tell me what’s going on.Â While in Chicago, I heard about the travails of a bestselling author who’s under so much stress trying to meet her deadlines that she’s a physical wreck.Â “She says she throws up every morning,” my source said.Â “She’s a nervous wreck because if she doesn’t deliver her manuscript on time, the publisher’s bottom lineÂ suffers.”Â Which means thatÂ people might lose their jobs. SheÂ feels personally responsible for the livelihoods of a whole host of people — editors, publicists, and assistants.
She has become what’s known as a “payroll author.”Â
On the surface, it sounds like a great position to be in.Â Wow, what a power trip to be so valuable to a publishing house that they need your new bookÂ just to balance their budget.Â Â We all want to be needed, right?Â We all want to feel indispensable.
The problem is, this author no longer feels in control of her life.Â She’s a millionaire several times over, she’s got a guaranteed slot on the bestseller list, she has legions of fans, yet she’s so stressed out, so overwhelmed by the responsibility,Â that she spends every morning heaving her guts into the toilet.
Is that the kind of success anyone really wants?
Looking at this author’s career, anyoneÂ might feel a twinge of envy.Â But when you hear what her life is like behind the scenes, when you hear the turmoil she has to go through to earn those multi-millions,Â itÂ reminds you that getting to the top isn’t for sissies.