Tag Archives: publisher

Billy at the Bat

Posted: November 30, 2017 at 9:48 pm

The outlook wasn’t brilliant in the publishing world this year,

Authors watched their dreams of glory slowly disappear;

And with every shuttered bookstore, and breaks they could not catch,

A pall-like silence fell upon every ink-stained wretch.

 

A straggling few got day jobs, in deep despair. The rest,

Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;

They thought, “If Rowling created magic with her café-writ debut,

We’ll bet our homes and marriages, that we can do it too.”

 

But Young Adult rules writing, unless it’s Shades of Grey,

And the former is too childish, while the latter’s quite risqué;

So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy set,

For there seemed but little chance of winning: Publisher Roulette.

 

But Billy penned a memoir, to the wonderment of all,

Except his editor Colin, who was not the least enthralled;

And when the dust had lifted, and Bill wrote his seventh draft,

He realized three years wasn’t long for one to hone his craft.

 

From all three family members, there rose a lusty yell,

It rumbled through Lynn Valley, it rattled in the dell;

It pounded on Grouse Mountain, recoiled on West Van hovels,

For Billy, clever Billy, was ready to sell his novel.

 

There was ease in Billy’s manner as he wrote his book proposal,

There was calm in Billy’s bearing as it reached the waste disposal;

And when, responding to his agent, he wrote it thrice again,

No publisher could resist the pitch of Bill’s deftly wielded pen.

 

His Facebook friends applauded as Bill attempted the implausible,

Ten thousand blogs reminded him his dream was near impossible;

Then, when Reason said he’s doomed to fail, get off this ego trip,

Defiance flashed in Billy’s eye, a sneer curled Billy’s lip.

 

And now a major publisher called, a house without compare,

And Billy sat a-listening, in haughty grandeur there;

But the conversation dragged a bit….our author’s hopes were fallin’—

“Whaddya think?” asked Billy. “Not for me!” said Harper Collins.

 

From Bill’s kitchen, filled with loved-ones, there went up a muffled roar,

Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;

“Kill him! Kill that publisher!” shouted Bill’s long-suffering wife,

And it’s likely she’d have killed him had not Billy saved his life.

 

With a smile of Christian charity our Billy’s visage shone,

He calmed his loving partner; he bade the game go on;

He signalled to his agent, and once more a query flew,

But M&S rejected it. His agent said, “Strike two!”

 

“Fraud!” cried Bill’s coffee shop pals, and echo answered “Fraud!”,

But one scornful look from Billy and the baristas were awed;

They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his temples quiver,

And they knew that Billy would make some publishing house deliver.

 

The sneer is gone from Billy’s lip, his teeth are clenched so tight,

He mails his last proposal to a house which should be right;

And now the author’s waiting, he trembles with his spouse,

And now the air is crackling with a call from Random House.

 

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;

And somewhere men are laughing, and children play en masse,

But there is no joy in North Van—Random took a pass.

 

(With Apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer)

My Secret Agent

Posted: November 11, 2016 at 9:47 am

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I had some good news last week concerning my memoir, provisionally entitled The Next Trapeze.

In past posts I described the “query” process, by which an author sends a jaw-dropping, one-page letter to a literary agent who will beg to have the honour of fielding the seven-figure offers from the big New York publishers. If you’re not Stephen King, or if your book isn’t fifty shades of S&M fantasy, your experience may be different. Here’s the regular, painful process:

1. You research a literary agent through their website.

2. The agent won’t respond to telephone inquiries. If you have a question, tough.

3. The agent won’t allow visitors to their office. If you want to meet the agent before requesting representation, tough.

4. You tailor your query letter to the exact requirements of the agent’s website and send by email. Any deviation ensures rejection.

5. The agent’s website warns you won’t receive confirmation your email was ever received.

6. The agent’s website states they will review your query letter within TWELVE weeks of receiving it.

7. The agent won’t respond to emails or calls requesting a status update.

8. The agent will only contact you if they want to see part of your manuscript. If they don’t like your query, you’ll hear nothing. Which means you’ll wait for 12 weeks,  and never be sure if anyone even looked at your letter.

In the business world, I was used to people acknowledging I existed, phoning me back, treating me with courtesy. You know, human stuff. To be fair, agents receive thousands of query letters every year, and accept two or three new clients. I wasn’t prepared to be ignored, but I imagine everyone else in the arts knows what that feels like. A smattering of agents were nice enough to send polite, “no thanks…but seriously, what were you thinking?” emails. I wasn’t depressed, just frustrated.

But…here comes the good news…one enlightened, Toronto agent saw something in my book the others missed, actually PHONED ME and offered to represent me. I signed his contract before he could change his mind.

Now it’s up to my agent and me to prepare a book proposal so mind-bogglingly clever and enticing that publishers will fight over the chance to publish it. Or something like that.

So watch out, publishers, I have an agent, and I’m not afraid to use him!

Ten Steps to Becoming a Published Author

Posted: July 9, 2015 at 9:38 pm

 

1.  You hate your job so much you spend your day pulling out precious tufts of your already-thinning hair (if you could just rip out the grey ones, that would be okay, but it doesn’t work that way).
2.  People say you should write a book but their ideas for the subject of said book are terrible.
3.  You read 50 Shades of Grey, puke, pull out what hair you have left, and despair for the fate of literature and the English language. Secretly, you are insanely jealous.
4.  You spend months researching the publishing industry and discover that writing literature has little to do with book sales; it’s all Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and Instagram and Snapchat and blogging and writing conferences and author websites and establishing your social media platform and your “personal brand.” You delay starting your book so you can do all that stuff.
5.  You quit your job and spend two years writing in a coffee shop, spending more on coffee than you could possibly earn if your book becomes a best seller.
6.  You hire an editor whose notes of things wrong with the manuscript are longer than the manuscript. You do nothing for a month, wallowing in depression. Then you re-write your entire book.
7.  You hire another editor to review the second draft. The second editor provides less guidance than the first editor, but charges more. You spend several months writing draft three.
8.  For six months you send query letters to potential agents. You learn that memoirs were hot three years ago, but now if a book isn’t pornographic or have “Chicken Soup for the……..” in its title, it won’t sell.
9.  Random House won’t take your calls. You find a small publisher in a Surrey strip mall, squeezed between a pawnshop and Payday Loans.
10.  Your publisher’s advance is $500, for three years’ work. You’re one of the lucky ones.

Author’s Note:
Don’t despair, dear reader. It doesn’t have to turn out like this. I’m still writing draft number two, so who knows what will happen next? As I said in a previous post, I don’t doubt for one minute my choice to become a writer. I rejoice in my decision to discard my old, ill-suited profession and embrace this artsy world of creativity and uncertainty. Knowing what I know now, I’d do it all over again.