Friday, August 25, 2006

The Great Publisher Hunt



How does one hunt a publisher?

Cue jungle music. I envision myself as some clueless north american tourist asking a local guide for help hunting through treacherous jungle. The guide is suspicious, but once I prove my worth to her, she agrees to take me, so long as I provide the proper equipment. And so now I will picture Julia, in a pith helmet and khaki shorts, leading me through the brush.

And I could continue with this analogy for this entire post because I have no concrete facts to share. The fact of the matter is, when it comes to hunting publishers, well I don't have a clue how it's done. I just stayed in the lodge and drank hot chocolate.

You see the joy of a literary agent is that she knows what she's doing. She knows what to do, who to submit to and what needs to be submitted. She's a smart lady. And so Julia submitted my MS to half a dozen or so publishers. And yes there was some rejection, but I have to say I wasn't too concerned with it. Partly it had to do with my faith in my wonderful agent, and partly because as an actor I had faced so much rejection that I've just stopped taking it personally. Possibly every author should try acting for a year to get accustomed to it. The great thing to me about writing is that, right away, you are being judged on your talent and not something superficial like your appearance (trust me, it is so infuriating being judged simply on one photograph. Have you ever tried to choose the perfect headshot (actually many of you probably have)? It's one of the most stressful decisions. You can't show all the complexities that is you in one single shot. Smile, not smile. Black and white, colour. Hair up, down. Sexy, pretty, cute? All this in one picture that casting directors glance at for less than a second. For only an audition! But I digress.) At any rate, even something as simple as a query letter is akin to that first audition. In fact it's better. In an audition, you can have prepared and prepared, but something within the moment can happen. The director/casting director can yawn during your speech, you could forget your lines. You might be having a bad hair day. But you can devote as much focus and preparation on a query letter, and it will always be the same query letter - the one you wrote at home is the same one the agent/editor receives. Anyway. My point is, I'm used to rejection.

But then suddenly there was interest. And I was in a taxi driving to meet Publisher XYZ. And suddenly I was in a board room sitting around with some lovely individuals talking about . . . my book. My book. The one that I wrote on my laptop in front of the television, or at work, my little book. Talking about plans, about how it might look, about all those things you fantasize about having conversations over. Ooh, and eating brownies.

It was amazing. It was fun!

And then came the offer. And then came the contract. Later on when I feel like I'm allowed to give more details I will tell the story of Publisher XYZ's offer. It's a nice story. And there is a picture to accompany it.

And 4 weeks after signing with my agency I had a book deal. A two book deal!

And it was glorious.

3 comments:

Kay Richardson said...

Great stuff. I've got a perfect headshot, anyway - check it out.

Jess said...

I'm enjoying your blog, but where's the next installment? I want to hear all about your deal! Thank you!

Tom Blue said...

I just discovered your very helpful blog. Thank you so much.