I don’t mean to sound petty, but when I read that Hillary Clinton is teaming with famed mystery writer Louise Penny to “co-write” a novel, it made me mad.
It was bad enough when her husband, Bill, added his thoughts to co-author The President is Missing, a reasonably entertaining book. It starts out with the president’s wife dead and him facing impeachment. They say you write what you know …. or wish for, I guess.
That was followed by The President’s Daughter, set to come out this June.
I’m figuring James Patterson or his stable of co-writers knocked out those two books in a couple of months. Then Bill grabbed the headlines and partial credit.
Hillary does have a string of books with her name on the cover. I don’t know if she wrote them or – a more likely scenario – had someone ghost-write them for her. In the mystery department, Louise Penny is no slouch. She doesn’t need Hillary grabbing onto her mystery coattails and going along for the ride just to get her name out there.
So why did the two ladies team together? It’s all about the money and the fame, isn’t it? And although Louise Penny has undoubtedly sold millions of books, what’s a few million more garnered by “working with” her friend, Hillary.
The genesis of my anger with this scenario began about six months ago when I was diligently working on three books at a time. Two I was writing on my own; the third was a family bio I was doing in partnership with my former boss.
My first book was a rewrite of a novel I did about eight hours ago and which sold about 150 copies. I named the new version Leslie’s Voice because it needed a better title. I also took out some of the gratuitous sex scenes. I knew they were such because the lady who is the choir director in our church and so sweet said she could barely get through them they were so explicit. She did, however, manage to read my book from cover-to-cover.
Those gratuitous paragraphs are gone now, which I guess is why the choir leader bought my revised book and re-read it, even though I insisted she didn’t need to do that.
The second book is a mystery and a sequel to Leslie’s Voice. I’ve worked on this book, Scavenger Tides, for five years, off and on. This summer, as we were all hibernating because of Covid, I managed to finish it. My two editors said it was good enough to submit to a real publisher.
Turns out my son was dating a woman who worked for Simon and Schuster. He had me contact her and she gave it to me straight. “Unless you’re an established author or a celebrity (think Hillary and Bill) publishing companies aren’t interested – and neither are agents.”
“Please don’t sugar-coat it,” I wanted to say but didn’t.
“Now if you want to self-publish, we would be happy to help you,” she hastened to add.
“I have a self-publisher, BookBaby, who does as good a job as any of you folks.” I let her have it straight too. It caused no ripples on the home front because my son wasn’t all that interested in her anyway.
So here I am, hours, days, months devoted to my old book and my new one, and I’ll be lucky to sell a couple of hundred copies because I’m not a celebrity or a writer with name recognition.
So, yes, when I watch TV personalities and celebrities hawk their books it makes me angry. They get tons of free publicity for materials I’m pretty sure they didn’t write, and I get nothing – except the satisfaction of having created what my two editors think are entertaining novels. Maybe that’s all I really need. Or deserve.
That’s Leslie’s Voice, available on Amazon, and Scavenger Tides, which should be coming out at the same time as The President’s Daughter.
After writing this blog, I shared my author woes with an artist friend, and he had the line of the day: “Well, it’s appropriate that Hillary is working on that kind of novel because she’s always been a mystery to me.”
There you go, folks. Please read my books.