Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Win or Lose...It's All About the Game

More than once, I've become involved in a discussion about the rewards we authors expect for publishing a book. Most people probably would say, "It's the money, stupid!" But is it?
Sure, I want a good royalty check, but is that all there is?

Often, I've heard, or been told, or read that some authors really write for the pleasure of the process and the excitement of having a story put in ebook and/or print. These authors often add they really don't care about making money. Any money.

For several years, I was involved with a bridge club. A bridge player is expected to know the rules, when to bid, when to pass, and to understand a good hand from a bad hand. Now this club was not cutthroat, as some bridge groups might be, but all of us wanted to win. I know I did not relish winning the "low" pot...that of pennies we members threw in when we "went down." In other words, we threw in pennies when we lost a hand. At the end of the session, the one player with the lowest overall score took home the "low pot,"...the pennies. I hated that, but I took home my share of the low pot over the years. The high pot? I rejoiced and did a little dance if I took home the big win.

So, what spurred me on to win the big pot? The $1.25 I might take home? Was it the money? A dollar twenty-five? No, it was the pleasurable feeling I had knowing I'd played well and had the best score and... I stayed in the game. The $1.25 only solidified that fact.

Let's turn to golf. I learned at age 40, and that's not a good age to begin golf. However, I fell head over heels in love with golf. I took very few lessons, for I am a self-learner and figured out the game on my own through videos and books.

Listen. I could win, too.

On Wednesdays, the day the Women's Golf Association members played at our country club, I won my share of having the lowest score of the day. If I lost, I still went home happy, because winning isn't the entire point.

Mainly, I stayed in the game.

Still, I'd study why I lost. Was it my long game? My short game? My putting? Over time, I learned how I could win more by playing a good short game--I was never a long hitter.

After a mini-tournament that I might win, I'd hear, "Well, you came out here to win, didn't you?"

This sounded like an insult to me. My response became, "Why would I come out here to lose?"
See? It's all about keeping score--staying in the game to compare my score with my opponent--or my score with my last score.
And the money solidifies the fact that I won--even if the amount was very small.

I learned valuable lessons playing golf. Once in a mini-tournament, we played one-on-one. My opponent was a big woman, tall and younger and more athletic. She was bound to beat me in the ground. However, remember I had a very good short game, so after playing 18 holes, we were tied. This meant we had to play Sudden Death--play until one of us won a hole.
Hole #1--tied.
Hole #2-tied.
Hole #3.
My opponent had become annoyed and short tempered, knowing she was the better player overall. Me? Not me. I am not short tempered.
 We teed off on #3, a short Par 3. She landed on the green, but on the upside--she had to putt downhill. I landed just short of the green. I could chip or putt uphill to the hole.
She putted and the ball rolled downhill past the hole and off the green. She stomped her foot and cursed out loud and threw her club. Uh-oh.
I chose to putt off the green and landed about one foot from the hole. Long story short, she became so angry with me, she yelled. I stood there, watching her, and thought: "I have just won this match." She let her emotions take control. Bad move.
Sure, I one-putted, she three putted, and yes, I won. She would not speak to me.
Did I win for the pretty little trophy I got? No. I won for the score. I had a better score.
A trophy? Cash? Those do help, but no.
The score. The game.

I had played the game better than she had.

Over the years, I'd have books that sold very well, but some that did not sell well at all. I'd study the small royalty check and say to myself, "Well, this doesn't matter, because I don't care about the money."
Really, Celia?

One day I realized I did care about the money. Why? It represented a score...staying in the game and trying harder next time.

We might not play just to win or beat an opponent--we most likely play to test our own game.
That's what you do in golf. Test your game against others.

You might have deduced I have a bit of a Killer Instinct. I never had in my entire life, but when I turned forty, somehow my attitude about many things changed. Mainly, I wanted something new, something fun and exciting.
Slowly, I came to realize I do have a Mini-Killer Instinct.
To keep score, of course. Maybe play well and collect a little cash, too.

Mainly, though, to stay in the game.

Just a side note. Authors don't talk about or speak of the money they make. It's a form of bragging, and we were taught as children that it's rude and uncouth--at least I was. I see this is one of our best attributes as authors.

But we check rankings on Amazon, don't we? We count the number of books we sold and possibly share that with a good friend, don't we? I see nothing wrong with this. It's the same as posting golf scores on a board for the world to see.

Probably, it's to assure ourselves we're still good enough to play the game.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
My Facebook Page


  1. Oh Celia, I don't think you have a killer instinct, not even a mini one. That would imply that you're out to beat someone. It's not so much the someone you want to beat as it is, you want to prove to yourself that you have what it takes to win. What you have is confidence.
    I don't like it when people display bad manners and are bad losers. It screams immaturity to me. Long ago when I was a kid, my dad gave me some sage advice (he was very good at advice.) He told me, if I lost in a game to never cry, get angry, or act obnoxious. I was to simply congratulate the winner cheerfully and tell them how well they played. If, on the other hand, I should win, he told me to not boast or act superior, to just take it in stride and still tell the opponent what a good game they played. Being gracious about winning and losing is important for our character. Well, he said a lot of good things and I haven't forgotten them.
    You know the old saying, "Revenge is best served up cold." It's true, too. I don't like drama and waves of emotional outbursts.
    That being said, I do confess when I sold my first story for actual money, I wept. No one was around so I didn't embarrass myself. LOL I had worked and worked for years before I was published.
    I do check on my books' ratings on Amazon. I do it to see how sales are, and to help me decide what books need more promotion and what kind of promotion works. I just want to say, promotion for the most part remains a mystery to me.
    About royalties--it's so satisfying to get those big royalties, not just for the money which is nice, but it indicates whether readers like my work and just what books they like in particular. I may like some of my contemporary or medieval paranormal stories, but readers may prefer my westerns. This is good to know.
    You always have the most interesting blogs, Celia.

    1. Okay, I'll say I have confidence...instead of a killer instinct. Actually, I think there is a difference...someone with a real KI, like Tiger Woods, doesn't take defeat well. His father taught him how to win and be a champion, but he did not teach him how to be a gentleman and accept the fact that he lost. Something is broken in his psyche.
      My mother always said, "Do not brag on yourself." Well, I really had little to brag about growing up, so I only listened but didn't see that it applied to me. Still, I have that emblazoned on my brain...Do not brag.
      Thank you for your very good sure know how to hit the nail on the head and say the right thing. And it seems you and I always have the same kind of thoughts and beliefs.
      I appreciate your support!
      Oh, listen, I did the same thing...when I got my first contract with TWRP. I did...I cried and tried to tell my husband and he thought something was wrong...but I was overwhelmed with happiness that a real publisher liked my book.

  2. Great post, Celia. I never thought of myself as competitive, but realize I have the Mini-Killer attitude. I know I would write even if I didn't receive royalties, but I want them. They tell me whether or not my readers like what I've written. The pay is also a reward for the long hours I work. Loved the post.