Am I Worth A Damn, And How Do I Know?


The WEbook guest author series continues with Victor Gischler, former English professor and author of four hard-boiled crime novels. His debut novel Gun Monkeys was nominated for the Edgar Award, and his novel Shotgun Opera was an Anthony Award finalist. His latest crime novel, The Deputy, was released in April. To learn more about him, check out his blogpocalypse or follow him on twitter @VictorGischler.

Take it away, Victor!

TheDeputy As a writer, I’m often curious about my place in the universe. Am I accomplishing anything? Is anyone noticing? Is anyone actually going to read these words I’m writing in my own blood? I would not presume to read J.K. Rowling’s mind, but it’s hard to imagine she has this problem. Ditto James Patterson. There are authors so wildly successful in this world that they could probably publish their grocery lists if they wanted to. But for every BIG HUGE AUTHOR there are a hundred guys like me, bouncing around the midlist, wondering if his next book will see the light of day, sweating sales numbers. (I also write comics for Marvel. If just ten percent of my comic book readers would buy my novels, I’d have it made.)

So I find myself wondering if anyone has heard of me. Sometimes, if I’m traveling in a strange city, I’ll wander into the book store, curious if they have any of my books on the shelf. I mean, am I actually accomplishing anything?

Go-goI suppose these questions weigh most heavily when I walk into my local Barnes & Noble – keep in mind this is my HOME TOWN where I’ve been reviewed in the newspaper—only to find they have none of my books on the shelf. This was a mere week after the publication of my brand new crime novel The Deputy. I found a dead-eyed drone at the information counter and asked if it would be possible to order a few of my books since I was a local author. You’d of thought I was asking for a kidney. After a mumbled phone conversation, I was told they’d order a few copies. Well, I came back two weeks later and guess what. Still no books. I asked a different drone what the deal was. Did they order books? The answer: “Books?  Naw, we didn’t do that.”


The books eventually arrived, but should it really be that hard? You can maybe start to see what I mean. It’s like pedaling a stationary bicycle. Pedal your ass off and you still get nowhere fast.

Fast forward six weeks.

Gse_multipart47473 The Pistol Poets—long dead and buried here in the USA—debuts in Italy, and I’m invited all expenses paid to a literary festival. I’m interviewed in newspapers. I’m interviewed on the radio. Book stores have my books and I sign at standing-room only events.  (It helps that I was touring with Joe Lansdale—ha ha.) The point? Somebody somewhere gave a flying hoot. It was a good feeling. I had to travel halfway around the world for it to happen, but it was worth it.

A few days ago, a nice fellow on Twitter told me how much he liked Gun Monkeys, my first novel. The book is ten years old. You never know when a reader will find you or how it will happen. So here’s the deal. Every day you wake up is another chance. Maybe something good happens. Maybe somebody notices.

Keep pedaling.


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  1. Finnean Nilsen13 July 2010 at 04:37

    I read Gun Monkeys, it was a lot of fun. I hated that the big steroid freak got smoked, but I loved the ending and I read it through in one sitting. Just sat there and read all day. I'm glad people are starting to notice you, somewhere if not everywhere.

  2. I strongly recommend Go Go Girls of the Apocalypse as well, if you liked Gun Monkeys. Its one of my favorites!

  3. Thanks, guys.
    And thanks to WE BOOK BLOG for letting me blather.

  4. I know the feeling all too well. We don't have a Barns and Nobel but I got the same response from our Walden Books store, they ended up closing their doors before my book ever made it onto the shelves... Thank god for

  5. Jennifer B. Fields14 July 2010 at 03:29

    I can certainly empathize with your plight. As yet I am an unpublished nobody with three novels ready to go. I'm doing all the required footwork, i.e. going to writers conferences, sending out the queries, with the expected results most writer's whine about. The thing that surprises me is the reception (or lack of) that I receive in my own hometown. Born and raised in a small town of 30,000 people, everyone knows me and my family and yet, it's like pulling teeth to get the local paper to publish a blurb I've written. I must say it makes me wonder if it's worth it. My answer? I'd love to see Italy someday. :)

  6. It doesn't help that Baker and Taylor still have not shipped The Deputy. There was a change in ISBN information and B&T did not alert me or switch the order to the updated number. I placed the order back on January 18th.
    I'm ordering the thing off Amazon within the next five minutes.

  7. Since I'm a foreigner, I guess I'm allowed to not have heard of you until now, but isn't it great that through this article I have heard of you and that your posting on Webook is probably what's going to take me to a bookstore to find one of your books? Can you tell me if any of your books have ever been published in Portuguese? If not, I'll look for the original.
    Perhaps one day you'll be able to find my books, that is, if I ever get published! The wait is long, but it's worth it, isn't it?

  8. SCLeme,
    Ha-ha. Most people in my own country have not heard of me, so I don't think being from another country is the reason. Everyone's allowed. And I'm trying to be more patient.
    Panini Brazil is publishing my novel GO-GO GIRLS OF THE APOCALYPSE in Portuguese.

  9. Hi! Thanks for your reply. I'm actually from Portugal and Portuguese from Brazil is a bit different from the Portuguese spoken in Portugal. Even books from Brazilian authors are adapted to the readers from Portugal. Just so you know!
    I'll look for them on Amazon!
    Best of luck in your writing career!


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