Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Guest blogger: Melinda Szymanik - 10 tips for understanding the publishing world.

10 Tips for understanding the publishing world…

The publishing world is a strange beast that doesn’t really understand itself. This adds a degree of difficulty for authors trying to get to grips with it as they look to get a toe in the door.

Here are ten tips to help you understand how the publishing world works (with thanks to Lauren Child for No. 1).

1.  Publishers want you to write something fresh and different, but just 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, you should just 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 but you need to also 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.

Hang in there. The difference between success and failure is often just sheer persistence.

Melinda's first post on tall tales & short stories - 

Melinda's publisher
Scholastic NZ
Publishing Manager – Diana Murray


Candy Gourlay said...

hilarious! but sadly so true! nice one!

Stroppy Author said...

"People who tell you, you should just get stuck in to the next project are probably not writers (publishers, editors, agents, family etc…)."

Or professional writers who have to keep earning or their children starve. Lounging around 'frozen' waiting for a response is not an option.

Agree with most of the rest, though. Except that it's safer to assume that No DOES mean No :-)

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