Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Gittin’ Published Ain’t Easy

So you wrote a book. 85,000 words give or take. You sent query letters to many, many agents. Some used form letters to reply, and some didn’t reply at all. Those are especially annoying since they tell you, “If we do not respond, we’re not interested. Please wait four to six weeks for our non-response.” And you do. But when four to six weeks roll around, you forget who it was that you were waiting not to hear from. Others are civil enough to scribble a note saying, “Your work does not fit out needs at this time, but keep trying. We’re fairly certain someone will like it.”
      Well, the “keep trying” part becomes tiring.
As an unproven writer, you don’t know if the problem is your work, if the agent is speaking the truth, or if it’s a little of both. You don’t trust your family or friends to proof your work and give you an honest critique, because if it’s bad, they will always lie to you in a misguided attempt to spare your feelings. And that’s the rub, isn’t it? The Catch-22! If they don’t tell you that your writing needs work, how can you hope to improve?
They will tell you what they think you want to hear because they don’t want to discourage you. If they discourage you, you might quit. If you quit, you may never amount to anything, and if you never amount of anything, it’ll be their fault.
So they lie.
They tell you they’ve never read such a great book in all of their lives. You see dollar signs, big houses on the lake, and throngs of adoring fans. You look in the mirror and see J.K. Rowling if you’re a woman, or Stephen King if you’re a guy (ok, maybe not King).
You get all revved up and submit a query, a bio, a synopsis, and a couple of chapters. Then, you wait. Eventually you come to the realization that rejection takes a very long time. Meanwhile, you find that insisting on an honest critique helps a little with friends and family, and they try, but they dip it in sugar so it’s easier for you to swallow, and the process starts all over again.
All of this is part of becoming a writer. It’s painful and it’s hard. But as Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own
“If it wasn't hard everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”
       Keep writing.

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