Category Archives: publisher

The Writer’s Crescendo

You’ve queried widely. You’ve re-written your book a few times. No one wants to read it and no one’s listening to you. You’re shouting as loudly as your tiny voice allows, but the din of everyone else’s voice drowns your words. So what do you do? Hide your book under your bed and blame everyone else for not seeing your art? Give up? Maybe. Or maybe you become weathered to the tough world that is book publishing and you slog.

Recently, I received a comment on this blog from an author who was angry and hurt by the world’s failure to notice him. My heart sank for this author. I thought about that comment during my work day as I wrote rejection letters and joined my authors in their joy of getting published, during my 2-hour commute home, as I worked toward my master’s degree, during dinner and even as I put my kid to bed. I’m entirely too busy to let something that small irk me, but I couldn’t get that author’s frustration out of my mind. I can’t do much to help authors in this situation because the truth of the matter is, an author is the only person who has the power to amplify his own voice. My advice to aspiring authors: do all of the following to the absolute best of your ability and you will find success.

1. Love your work. Love it so much that you can’t not do it. Be obsessed with it. Live, breathe your work. Make it your devout religion. If you don’t passionately love your work so much that it defines who you are, stop.

2. Read. Read at least 30 novels (50 is better) in your exact genre. Make sure they are the best of the genre. Read them critically. What do they have that your book doesn’t? What does your book have that these don’t? What do neither of you have, but could? Then, read a few of the worst. Is yours better? Read as many relevant blogs as you can. Agent blogs, editor blogs, author blogs, blogs, blogs, blogs. Read Publisher’s Weekly. Check out Publisher’s Marketplace. Haunt the publishing industry by devouring every word written about it.

3. Write. Write part of your novel every single day, even Sunday. Blog. Tweet. Constantly.When you’re done with your novel, query agents with it. When you’re done writing your novel, write another.

4. Connect. Online, collect Twitter followers like nuggets of gold. They are. Tweet interesting things that others will want to re-tweet. That means don’t tell people your dog just got neutered. No one cares. When they do, all their friends might too and other people might be interested in what you say and follow you themselves. Then, when you need to market, you’ll have a captive audience of 1,000 people who share your interests. Write blog posts for others’ blogs, let other bloggers guest-post on your blog. Run a contest on your blog to spark interest. Then Tweet about it. Away from your computer, attend every writer’s conference you possibly can. Join a critique group and participate heavily. Submit your work to contests. Then tell everyone about it. Join every writer’s association, group and organization you can. Take every class you can on all things publishing and then network with all the people there. Attend all publishing events you’re able to. You should be able to find out about them from all your reading.

5. Improve. See opportunities to make your work better and let them sail. Always ask yourself how your work could be better. Because just when you think it can’t get any better, it can. Take criticism as seriously as you would a medical diagnosis. Because it is, to your book. Don’t discount the opinions of others. They are all expert opinions, because each critic–even that weird guy in your critique group whose own manuscript sucks–is the expert of his own tastes, and you have to market your book to wide tastes. Don’t hold on to what isn’t working. Trash what needs trashing, even if that means your whole book. Cut what needs cutting. Somebody (Faulkner? Twain? Both?) said, “Kill your darlings.” So, kill them if you need to. You’ll get over it and get stronger because of it.

All of the above, along with a day-job makes for a pretty busy person. And that’s okay. Because if you love what you’re doing, you’ll love doing it all the time. If you don’t love what you do enough to put that much energy and time into it, then put all of that time and energy into doing something you do love. Do all of the above and your work will get stronger and stronger, your voice louder and louder, until some agent hears you.

 

>Office Hierarchy

>I’ve begun to get a handle on the hierarchy of employees here. The top-guy for financials, it appears, is the publisher. TF’s editorial and publicity offices are arranged along one very long and very narrow hallway. The publisher’s office, a huge behemoth, is situated at the end of the row in the only place which could accommodate such a big office while allowing it to have ample windows. I find it interesting that, save for one, the only man in the imprint is in the top position. Call me hysterical, call me paranoid, but I do wonder if this has anything to do with a glass ceiling. I’ve read, in more than one source, that the “glass ceiling” does not exist in book publishing because of the ratio of women to men. In a different industry, like law, for example, a woman might be prevented from emerging at the top because she needs to prove herself so much more than a man might need to. Sounds awful, sounds like fifty years ago, I know, but it’s true! Here in the publishing world, however, most of the employees are women. I have interacted extensively with not a single male. I know the names of three, as opposed to knowing the names of three times that many women. But the publisher doesn’t appear to rule over the women (and one man) under him, exactly. He appears to be a well-educated man who knows that to be a leader you must interact, cooperate and work with your inferiors. He appears to do a very good job of this. Also, the editor-in-chief, who I’ll get to in a minute, is also a high-boss, while being a woman. Down in human resources, the director (or top guy) is a woman. So I’m leaning toward agreeing with the sources that say there is no glass ceiling in publishing. At the other end of the long editorial half of the hallway is the editor-in-chief’s office which is also quite huge. The EIC is the big-girl for all things editorial. What I can’t figure out (and don’t have the nerve to ask) is who is whose boss there? I want to say that technically the publisher is the EIC’s boss because of his title, but that’s not exactly cut-and-dried. Judging by their interaction with each other, I’d say that their relationship goes one of two ways: either he is her boss and they work very, very well together (no barked orders or anything like that) or neither is the other’s boss and they are horizontally responsible for the imprint. Perplexing.Outside the EIC’s office, sits Danielle, who is my boss. I think. She’s an assistant editor, which means that she’s an editorial assistant with a bigger paycheck, only one editor to work for and the freedom to take on projects of her own. The editor Danielle works for is that EIC, and Danielle appears to have an immense amount of work to do. She also acquires her own books to edit, even though she’s technically an assistant. I believe this is because no one gets too comfy in Danielle’s position. The idea is to move up to be an editor and the EIC is helping her to do that by giving her (or letting her get for herself) a project much like those an editor will handle. Danielle is a step above an editorial assistant who rarely takes on projects of her own, but handles a lot of work for her editor. The editorial assistant I’m sitting next to, seems much less busy than Danielle and probably a little less knowledgeable. Hence, I suppose, the distinction between “assistant editor” and “editorial assistant.” I know the difference between these two titles sounds like simple semantics, but despite the subtleties, believe me, there is a big difference. Danielle seems to be a wealth of knowledge while the editorial assistant seems to be just learning. And then, of course, there’s me. I’m at the bottom and I receive work from anyone who wants to give it to me. I don’t get nearly enough work to do, but I love every piece of it that comes my way. I feel like every new task is a way for me to prove that I’m intelligent, too. I can handle these tasks. It is important to me that I impress my superiors here, because one day, when I’m out of college, I might wish to apply here as an editorial assistant so that I may continue to stare blankly during editorial meetings, absorbing all the information. If I consistently do my best in every menial task I perform, maybe they’ll remember me.

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