Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The real truth about publishing...

A while back I gave a talk about the ten most important things I’d learned so far about the publishing world. Here are the next ten most important things (with thanks to Lauren Child for No. 1). - For those of you who have already read this on this month's Kiwiwrite4kidz newsletter i have added a little value at the end:)

1. Publishers want you to write something fresh and different, but exactly like their other successful books
2. No two publishers make their decisions in the same way. The broad principles are the same – do we like this story, will it make more money than it costs, can we all agree and come to a decision? These can be run in any order and repeated any number of times. They can be made in committee or maybe not. The process differs not only between publishing companies but also between each decision. Your book may fall off the table at any stage.
3. A yes may not always mean yes. It is therefore also possible that no does not always mean no.
4. A year is one of the shortest time frames in publishing. 2 to 5 years is the norm. This can be applied to ANY aspect of publishing.
5. Stories of people who hear back the day after they submit something are like the story about the poodle in the microwave.
6. The grass is always greener on the other side. And more lush, with less weeds.
7. Waiting for a decision from a publisher may make you freeze up and unable to write although you now have a new obsessive compulsive disorder where you continually check phone messages, e-mails and the mail box. People who tell you to get stuck in to the next project are probably not writers (publishers, editors, agents, family etc…). People who say they’ve forgotten about their submissions are LYING.
8. Even if you are pathologically shy, you will need to go out and be your own PR, marketing and sales-person. It is especially useful if you have other skills like unicycle riding, guitar playing, and the ability to perform magic, preferably all at the same time. Yes, we know you are a writer who likes to spend a lot of time alone with only your own weird thoughts for company and who got in to writing because you didn't want to be a salesperson, a unicyclist, a guitarist or a magician, but you will still need to go out there and juggle and sell, sell, sell. You can only be a recluse if you’ve already sold more than a million books.
9. Adverbs are bad.
10. Trends are what happen while you’re making other plans. But don’t let this stop you writing. If publishers really understood trends, Ms Rowling wouldn’t have had to wait five years to publish her first book.

- no publishers were harmed in the making of this blog post.
- number 7 was inspired by this blog post

3 comments:

Fifi Colston said...

Oh that is the funniest most accurate run down of the business I've ever read!!!!
We should read it out at the conference.

maureen said...

I second that! Thats both the convenors sold...and yes I think we will put it in somewhere...maybe a competition to add a few more...(sunday)Fi and I could add a few more on that for organising a conference...
maureen..

Melinda Szymanik said...

Ladies - I am just getting warmed up :)