Everything I Learned About Perseverance, I Learned From Twisted Sister
Posted on February 29, 2016
Not entirely. But I would have if I was just starting out in my career as an author and watched the recent documentary on the band, We Are Twisted F***ing Sister! I watched it last night. Whatever I thought I knew about the band was blown away. It turns out I didn’t know very much at all and, honestly, the title of this post isn’t as crazy as it sounds. The documentary started at the very beginning of the band’s existence and worked its way forward. Suffice to say these guys had so much working against them that anybody else would have packed it in long before landing their record deal with Atlantic.
Like their music or not, like their looks or not, like their personalities or not, Twisted Sister worked their asses off to become the best live band in a large area of NYC and New Jersey. They honed their craft and prepped themselves for a much larger prize, a record deal that would raise their profile to a national and, hopefully, international level. They finally landed one only to have the executive pass away before getting back to the office. Then, when they finally recorded their first album in the UK, the record company went out of business the day after its release.
And back in their home country? If they weren’t getting an offer from a record company that essentially made them indentured servants, they were being sabotaged from a record company president who told his people if they mentioned the name Twisted Sister again, they’d be fired. Finally, just when all looked bleak, the group borrowed money to travel back to the UK to perform on a TV show, the only promotional appearance the record company that closed had set up. It led to Atlantic signing them.
This isn’t unlike what authors and folks in many other professions go through. For authors, we write and write and write and try to land a publishing deal. I’ve had a friend who designed a series of young adult books and a game linking them all together get picked up for publication, then have the publisher come under new management and dump the entire project. Other folks have landed deals, then the publisher went out of business before the book was even released.
You’d think that was the worst of it, right? It’s not. An online friend recently announced that his latest novel, one that wasn’t being released for a week or two, was already listed on a couple of pirate sites. That’s exactly like what happens when a music group has their album leaked before its release. In this case, it’s possible, though unlikely, someone at the publisher leaked the book, or, also hopefully unlikely, a reviewer who was sent a review copy leaked it. Somebody did.
There’s a perception that musicians are rolling in money when, in fact, the majority of them are lucky to break even. There’s also a perception that authors are raking it in too. We’re not and I have the royalty checks to prove it. So when somebody leaks our books online before they’re even published, it makes us question if we even still want to be doing what we do. Like Twisted Sister, we struggle to get the deal, then we still struggle after.
And if things weren’t negative enough, there’s been a rash of plagiarism lately. Oh, yes. Some authors have taken other authors’ work, changed the gender or names, and published it as their own. It’s rocked our world a bit if you’ll pardon the pun. But the disturbing thing is how forgiving and supportive people have been about it.
“Hey (name withheld), don’t be too hard on yourself. You are human. We all make mistakes in our life. Big ones and little ones. Winners learn from them and move on with their lives and are better for it. You are a winner, I know you will recover from this and be stronger.”
Comments like this make us question why we should bother continuing to share our writing when someone can so easily and casually steal it as their own, plus be forgiven equally casually and easily by the public. What makes it worthwhile to us? I don’t think I’d stop writing, but I might stop publishing.
Twisted Sister took some time off due to internal conflicts after their success. That’s not a secret, but they came back together again when the members found common ground. They persevered just as they’ve always done, just as I suspect many of us will do. They didn’t give up. They kept fighting. We should too.
That’s a lesson worth embracing.
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.
2 Responses to “Everything I Learned About Perseverance, I Learned From Twisted Sister”
Eddie Lam says:
February 29, 2016 at 8:34 am
To Dear writer,
I cannot imagine how difficult to swallow the fact that your book (Your baby) was listed on pirate site before publishing. It sucks and I understand it is very discouraging. But do not give up, like Twisted Sister. One day, you will success and be famous. I guess it is life, we have up and down. On the bright side, your book may still sell really well. Book on pirate site doesn’t mean your sell will drop, hey, you never know…
G. A. Hauser says:
February 29, 2016 at 10:51 am
I have been in this business for nearly 20 years, and I have seen it deteriorate to such a degree, it is rough to continue. You didn’t even have to mention the jealous trolls, the constant backbiting and the lack of support WITHIN the publishing world. Authors who continue to write, and publish, anything at all now- are a testament of sheer will and determination. Anyone who thinks this work is easy, and stealing it is a right, not a crime, has no idea what we do, or how hard we work to do it. For the few who keep going, believe me, it is out of passion for the word, and no more about selling or being successful. It is simply what is in our heart.