When I listened to the latest “unnamed” Taylor Stevens podcast “Myths and Misunderstandings around Successful Books,” her call to action was to tell a friend about her newsletter.
I’ll tell you why I subscribe to her newsletter.
Here are some excerpts from what she shared in one entitled “Soooo.... have you found a publisher yet?”
When I first set out to write a novel and the long lean years drew on, the question I heard most frequently – and annoyingly, I might add – from friends and acquaintances was, “Sooooo, have you found a publisher yet?” Such harmless little words, but I feel pangs of anxiety from the mere mention of them.
Here’s the thing (two, actually) about “finding a publisher”:
1. The manuscript/ story/ book/ must first be finished.
How many people do you know who have at one point said they were planning to write a book? How many have actually started inking that idea into reality? Perhaps you even have a friend, or know a friend of a friend who has been working on an amazing idea for a few years now. But of those, how many people do you know who’ve actually completed what they set out to write? Exactly. That’s why a work of fiction has to be finished before anyone will look at it.
In that vein, telling your author friend that you have a great idea for a book and that if he/she will write it you’ll split the money when it sells is about as logical as telling a house builder that you have a great idea for a house and if he/she will build it, you’ll split the money when it sells.
2. Authors don't find publishers, agents find publishers.
Editors (those who acquire manuscripts on behalf of the publisher) don't get paid to read the unsold works which come their way, they get paid to bring to market books they have already purchased, and they work really full days and tight deadlines. This means they do much of their manuscript reading on their own time and so they're quite selective in how they use that time. The agent, therefore, is the screening process; the guard at the gate. The agent doesn't get paid unless he or she can sell your book, and he or she won't agree to represent what can't be sold.
Agent rejections come aplenty, and no matter how nicely written, they can be devastating. Even though you're now smart enough to avoid asking the fledgling author if he/she has found a publisher, you might also want to tread lightly when inquiring about the agent search. If your friend gets representation, you'll know. Trust me, you'll know.
The first best-selling author I corresponded with was Kurt Vonnegut. I was fresh out of college and struggling with the submission process for a comic novel that I’d written. Since I was receiving only those kindly worded rejections from agents, I sought a little reassurance that all the teachers, fellow students, readers, and audience members who’d told me what a good writer I was over the years weren’t collectively crazy.
I’d included an excerpt of my writing that I thought was representative of what I was trying to achieve.
Mr. Vonnegut reassured me in his typewritten response on inexpensive manuscript paper that I wrote well and that the publishing business could be very frustrating at times. He shared his concern that if the industry didn’t improve at publishing new writers, it would eventually run out of new readers.
Kurt Vonnegut wrote short stories and short comic novels. Taylor Stevens writes thrillers a la Robert Ludlum.
What they share is a genuinely compassionate worldview, an appreciation for readers, and candor about the publishing business.
If you can use a little of that compassion, appreciation, and candor, here’s where to sign up.
(Reading time: approx. 22 min.)
We’re taking a breather from movie discussion questions this week, because the characters reference North by Northwest. It’s just flat-out fun.
Don’t worry. There’s still plenty going on in this week’s episode. And the episode extras include a North by Northwest trailer featuring Alfred Hitchcock himself.
Excerpt from The Spy in the Movie.
About three-quarters of the way there, Sternwood excused himself as he inched by a long-haired blonde.
“Rude,” she said.
“I’m sorry.” He looked at her face and froze. Everything about her from her lustrous hair covering her right eye as it swirled down to her breast, to her long lashes, to her lipstick, to her smoldering glance, to her deep-red floral patterned vintage V-back dress, a standing invitation to indiscretion.
She twirled before him so he could take it all in and then laughed. “You can put your eyes back in their sockets now.”
The first thing recognizable as Laurel Gray was her voice. “I guess I don’t have to ask if you like the wig.”
“You look…you look great.” Phil summoned all the control he could muster.
“I’m the spy in the movie, get it?”
The spy in the movie was a fusion of two male fantasies. The dress was patterned after the one Eva Marie Saint wore in North by Northwest: the film being spoofed. The hair was Veronica Lake’s from This Gun for Hire.
It's best to read any mystery from the beginning.
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