“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Thomas A. Edison.
Trust me—I can identify with this.
I subscribe to quite a number of blogs in order to try and have some understanding of the book market. In truth, I’m not sure anyone fully appreciates what is going on—the pace of change is so frenetic—but you could make a good case that the people making the most money are the mass of consultants who are advising us creative types how to sell our books. A writer to day is expected to be author, blogger, social media expert, and all round marketeer—and to build his or her platform before agents and traditional publishers take their cut. And it doesn’t hurt if you can do web design as well— and shoot the shirt buttons off an editor at 100 paces.
There was a time when I used to shoot shirt buttons off a monkey—not a real one (real monkeys don’t wear shirts) though not at that distance. But that is another story.
What do agents and traditional publishers do? Well, lunch can be extraordinarily time-consuming—but to be fair, they recognize and bring on talent. Or so they say... Some of us are not quite so sure.
Be that as it may, today I read a rather nice story on BookMarketingBuzzBlog. It was written by guest blogger, SAM MOFFIE, and says a great deal about traditional book publishing.
There is so much to love and so much to hate about the world of book publishing, writing, and the world of books. In reality, just growing thick skin and shrugging off the rejection letters and bad reviews is all there is to hate about the world of books. You can't sit there and bemoan not becoming instantly rich and famous after you have banged out a novel or two or three. It just doesn't happen that way... never did. Oh, of course there is always the exception to the rule, but that happens anytime, anyplace, anywhere. In our instant good/bad news culture we always hear about it. So, don't obsess that IT hasn't happened to you, because it just might if:
You don't give up. You work at your craft. You listen to those who offer constructive critiques. You don't waste your hard earned money on frivolous investments in contests, promotions, and reviews that make YOU ante up AND make YOU do all the work.
A few years ago, I took the first chapter to one of all-time favorite novels Vonneguts Breakfast of Champions. I re titled it The Perfect Martini and sent it out to a zillion top literary agents and publishing houses. I didn't change one letter from Kurt's original first chapter. All but one rejected it. The one that caught it was a young literary agent who had just read the novel a few months ago and busted me. I wrote a piece about this that was widely circulated by The Onion on-line edition. I called it God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut.
Why am I telling you this? Because Kurt's son Mark (an award winning author and now doctor) himself read the story and contacted me and told me that his father once worked up a nice buzz with fellow author Jerzy Kosinski (The Painted Bird). Kosinski was as buzzed as Kurt and they did the same thing that I had done with Kurt's book to one of Jerzy's novels and that novel was only a few years old! Naturally every publisher house turned it down. I used this tid-bit in my fourth novel The Book of Eli.
In other words (pun intended), it takes a lot -- I mean A LOT to make it in this business. That's the beauty and the beast of it. If it was easy, everyone who has a novel in their desk would be doing what we do.
And they are not.