by Leighton Gage
As people with experience of the entertainment industry will tell you, there is no truth in the adage a star is born. Stars aren’t born; they’re made. They’re constructed, role by role, sound bite by sound bite, press release by press release. The more famous an actor becomes, the more press coverage (and the more plum roles) he or she is likely to get.
Talent, contrary to popular belief, has little to do with stardom. Many unknown actors have talent, while many famous stars, particularly movie stars, have none at all.
It’s much the same with writers.
Take the case of Lenny Kleinfeld.
Yeah, that’s exactly my point.
The book is chock-full of witty one-liners, terrific dialogue and memorable characters. Lenny told a cracking good story and told it superbly well. It’s the kind of book any writer would be proud of.
His struggle to publication was the usual path-of-thorns. Rejection followed rejection. At long last, the happy day arrived. He got picked up by Five Star. Kirkus praised his work (spellbinding…wit, style, suspense plus all the authenticity of an Ed McBain procedural. Lose yourself in it.) and awarded him a star. The book went on to sell…wait for it…1,377 copies.
Yes, I’ll be happy to repeat that number.
One-thousand-three-hundred-and-seventy-seven, one of which was mine.
I have never met Lenny Kleinfeld face-to-face.
I hope to, someday, but he and I live on the opposite sides of the world.
When I read Shooters and Chasers, I thought it was so darned good that I wrote to say so. I did more. I shared my opinion all over the internet, as I’m sharing it with you now.
Lenny wrote back to thank me, which is how I found out about the 1,377 copies.
That kind of success, or rather the lack of it, is enough to make a grown man cry. As a matter of fact, two of them did when they heard about it.
Lenny and myself.
Undaunted, Lenny dried his tears and got to work on his second.
Which is as it should be. It’s the profession we’ve chosen, and it isn’t for wimps.
But, if you’re a reader do yourself a favor: try to score one of the few copies of Shooters and Chasers, most of which are in libraries.
But, if you’re an aspiring writer as well, take heed from the example of Lenny Kleinfeld: the fact that people aren’t buying your books doesn’t mean they aren’t good.
Lenny Kleinfeld was born in Brooklyn, became a writer in Chicago, and is now 24 years into a business trip to Los Angeles. In 2009 he became a first-time novelist, which in Southern California means: Screenwriter over 50.
Leighton Gage lives and writes in Brazil. Every Bitter Thing, his next book in the Chief Inspector Mario Silva series, launches in December.