6.28.2011

6 THINGS I'VE LEARNED ABOUT PUBLISHING

1. it's a business. i know people say this all the time? i know we throw this sentence around like it's so obvious that it's almost ridiculous to keep repeating it? but it's really, really, really true. even though we write books with all the parts of our hearts and souls, the moment we turn around and try to sell our work, everything changes. it's good, i think, to stay grounded and mindful of the fact that feelings are only one part of this industry -- and it's not a bad thing! but it helps to remember, if only to put our journey in perspective. because at the end of the day, these feelings need to sell.

2. it's a slow business. but you guys already know this, right? of course you do. hell, if you look up 'Publishing' in the dictionary it says MAYBE YOU SHOULD JUST GO AHEAD AND READ THE REST OF THIS DICTIONARY BECAUSE IT'S GOING TO BE A WHILE, KID.

3. so much of this slow business is about keeping secrets. you'll learn a bit of news today about something amazing and won't be able to say anything for the next 2 months. 3 months. 6 weeks. 5 days. who knows? the point is, you learn to keep your lips zipped and pretty soon you're annoying the hell out of everyone because people want answers and all you can give them are cryptic lolcats and pictures like this:
YOU'LL HAVE YOUR ANSWERS SOON, MY PRETTY
4. there are no guarantees. about anything. even the things that you think are guaranteed are not guaranteed. so it's best to just relax and enjoy the ride. there are so many people and things and jobs and issues and surprises and secrets and processes that it is absolutely impossible for 99% of anything to be within your control. you have to make peace with yourself early on that you cannot control anything, and you shouldn't hope to, either. hope for the best, plan to be patient, and most everything will delight you. (for everything else, there's chocolate.)

5. you will eat a lot of chocolate. this much should be obvious.

6. publishing is a business (a slow business! see #2) comprised entirely of people. i know. crazy weird to imagine, right? but it's true. it's basically a huge group of super nice people with families and kids and commutes and leaky ceilings and ex-spouses they'd like to punch in the nose. really. one day you will sell your brilliant novel and you will fly to new york to meet your editor and you will be absolutely astonished by how very HUMAN your editor is. it will astound and amaze you. you will spend the length of your lunch/dinner/coffee meeting just staring at your editor in awe, eyes wide with wonder and fingers entirely too tempted to reach out and pinch the person who paid money for your book. and then, my friend, you will fly home in a daze, delighted by the idea that Publishing is just a mite less scary than it seemed when you first met its marble exterior. because tucked behind those fancy doors are little cubicles stacked high with books and the people who love them.

<3

35 comments:

Aaronni said...

I love this! I'm learning EXTREME patience pursuing my dream of being published; if anything it's humbling and maddening!

& I can only imagine how exciting it is to be in on the secret! Who doesn't want to be in the "in" crowd right?!

LOL @ the picture in the post; that little girl is freakin' adorable!

Michael Offutt said...

I was just showing that photo to someone at my desk on awkwardfamily Photos.com. That's funny that we'd be on the same wavelength discussing a really popular internet pic.

E. Elle said...

I've noticed a couple posts around the blogosphere giving an insider look at the publishing world. I so hope to join it one day but I must address my ever-growing list of fears first.

Marilyn Almodóvar said...

he he, You forgot drinking loads of coffee as well!!

Heather Hellmann said...

That picture made me laugh!

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

I knooooooooooooooooow!

Ava Jae said...

Everything you've said (minus the chocolate bit) I've heard before but it's just so easy to forget! Agents, editors, all those people are...people. Not robots, not gods (though sometimes it seems that way), not superheroes or evil villains...people just like us.

Now I want chocolate.

Maprilynne said...

Oh yes! Our editor is SO lovely and human, isn't she?? I get to see her next month! Yay!

All good stuff here!!!!

hannah said...

LOVE this.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Oh yeah, it's slow. I sent my second manuscript to my publisher a week ago and I have no idea when they will respond. But I know it won't be soon.

Janet Johnson said...

Wise words, these. :) Off to stock up on chocolate.

Gracie said...

Haha!: " if you look up 'Publishing' in the dictionary it says MAYBE YOU SHOULD JUST GO AHEAD AND READ THE REST OF THIS DICTIONARY BECAUSE IT'S GOING TO BE A WHILE, KID." I just added you to my quote book. :D

Sarah Pearson said...

You had me at chocolate...

Mimi Valentine said...

I <3 this post! Reading your blog always only makes me so much more excited to read your book!

If I'll eat more chocolate publishing a book that I already do... Well, I'll just leave that there ;)

I'm LOLing at your hilarity!

Theresa Milstein said...

Sitting on information must be agony.

That picture scares me. I can't tell if the older sister is smiling because she loves the baby or is about to do something bad. Knowing older siblings - probably both.

Rebecca Kiel said...

Very well said. About publishing and chocolate. How else can we stay awake and toil?

Amber said...

Oh! I loved this! I especially like your last point.

Julie Musil said...

How right you are! Thanks for the smiles, and for the encouragement :D

Michael Di Gesu said...

So true and insightful....

I learned LONG ago that people are people. Modeling for years in NYC the people "awe" novelty wore off very quickly. especially when you become one of them, which YOU my dear have...

Congrats and ENJOY every moment. You're young, talented, and wise... Keep your eyes WIDE open and expect anything and EVERYTHING to happen.

The Pen and Ink Blog said...

Oh, that was wonderful reading. I know what you say is true. Sometimes I feel so close to something happening.
I've had a deal memo for three and a half month now. I know someday a contract will follow; then rewriting and MUCH waiting.
I want to send my publisher another book, but I am learning to wait with joy.
Look at you. Your ARCS are out, you had an awesome success at BEA and you have to wait 4 more months for the book to come out. I'm betting you probably sold it at least three years ago.

Myrthe said...

Hahaha, ROFLOL!

xx

Myrthe
Your Dutch publisher!

BP said...

*melts into puddle of inspired goo*...AGAIN... :D

Jaleh D said...

Aww, that picture is so cute. What were you saying? Oh yes, inspiring stuff about publishing that I'm still ages away from. Hehe.

olympiadeluxe said...

It's true about the little cubicles stacked high with books. I can vouch.

Misty Provencher said...

The photo. hahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah*gasp*hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha*wipes eyes*hahahahahahahahahahahaha...and everything you said...I believe it. Let me look at the photo again...hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Leslie Rose said...

Loved the pic. I'll probably end up with that girl in my 5th grade class in a few years. I read on a blog last week (senior moment, I forgot which one - sorry) that the publishing industry moves at a horse and buggy pace.

Ghenet Myrthil said...

These are all great things to remember! Thanks for sharing your publishing wisdom. :) LOL at that photo.

Elisabeth Watson said...

Thank you so much for this, Tahera; this comes from a person who never wanted to be a writer--if there's anything I want to do with books, it's to edit them and work alongside their authors.

The funny thing is to now find myself editor of a website for young publishing professionals. I hear so many of their concerns and struggles, and I sometimes forget the concerns and struggles of the thousands of writers seeking to be published.

One of my hopes is to learn--and equip readers at www.publishingtrendsetter.com--to talk about this business in a way that explicitly includes authors. I strive toward a future where each party celebrates the irreplaceable talents of each other that make books what they are.

With bibliophilia,
Elisabeth Watson
Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Trendsetter

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Number 2 and that picture had me snickering. Heehee!

Jennifer A said...

LOL! Is this all because we keep asking and asking and asking about the cover photo? :P

This was super interesting, even for someone like me who isn't a writer. Plus, you're just super entertaining.

Ishta Mercurio said...

I had my first real revelation of number 6 at the SCBWI winter conference in NYC this past january. Sitting at that table during the writers' intensive with the editor and the other writers was such a wonderful experience: it was the first time I felt that the editors are just like me, with their own ideas of what they like and what makes a story work, and if we have different ideas, that's okay. I just have to find the ones who like what I write. It was such a valuable, validating experience for me, it made the whole conference worthwhile.

wyvernspeak said...

Hm. I'm consuming 1-2 large bars of Black & Green's 75% and/or 80% per week. Thus, I must be on the right track! Yay!
-Michael

wyvernspeak said...

Hm. I'm consuming 1-2 large bars of Black & Green's 75% and/or 80% per week. Thus, I must be on the right track! Yay!
-Michael

Karen lee Hallam said...

I'm Still laughing at the PHOTO!!

Human people--huh...good to remember. Thanks for this. It's a great time to hear, again. I'll reread next week too.

BookLuvr Mindy said...

Cute pic! And I'm lovin' that you say that you will eat a lot of chocolate. LoL

Magical Urban Fantasy Reads
bookluvrmindy

Related Posts with Thumbnails