Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Worthy Reads on Publishing

I've been out of touch for a while, but I'm back.  We'll see how long this lasts.

If you're a writer, at some point in your life you'll try and get someone to publish your work.  I'll tell you in advance that you'll do best if you have the integument of a rhinoceros.  Consider Elderberry Press vs. Random House by that lovable old misanthropic curmudgeon, Fred Reed.

From the article:

Suppose your opus somehow gets to Random House. It will fall into the hands of a first reader, usually a Barnard co-ed with the brains of a trout fly, who likely has never been more that fifty yards from a flush toilet. She will know nothing about America, truck stops, life, or Oklahoma. She will bounce your book.
A somewhat different outlook can be found on Dan Klefstad's blog.  Scroll down to the post “Embrace Rejection” Speech to Writing Students.  It's a somewhat lengthy article, but it's worth reading.

From the article:

I think we should all prepare ourselves for an industry that is structured to say No to your work. That’s the default. Your job is to be so brilliant you force publishers and agents to flip the switch when they encounter your words.

I’ve published many times, but I’ve also been rejected hundreds of times.

You write something, you submit it to a publisher. Pick a publication you aspire to be in or an agent you want to represent you. Then pick several more. Write, submit – don’t even wait for the replies because those take weeks. Write, submit, and embrace the “No thanks” emails when they start coming in.

And remember: The publishing industry has No as its default. Even after you get a good edit, the gatekeepers who are flooded with manuscripts will try to find a reason to keep you out. Dare them to. Because content is subjective and if they don’t like your work now, they might like it later. Or another publisher might take a chance with you.

It’s worth pausing for a moment and reflecting on all the times publishers got it wrong. They said No to authors who’d go on to be blockbusters. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter pitch was rejected a dozen times. John Grisham’s first novel, A Time to Kill, got 24 rejections. Stephen King rejected himself initially — He threw out the first chapters to, Carrie. Fortunately, his wife fished the crumpled pages out of the garbage and made him finish it, which he did. Then it got thirty rejections. The list goes on and on, so I’m guessing several people here could – eventually – land a major contract or get into a prestigious journal. You just have to keep trying [emphasis mine - WLE].

In support of this philosophy, here's a link to ten bestsellers that were rejected multiple times before finally being published.  I wonder how many first readers got fired over their decision to reject the work.

10 Best-Selling Books That Were Originally Rejected

My only other observation comes from Stephen King, who stated that if an author isn't reading, he should be writing.  I agree, and so it's back to work for me.