Thursday, January 18, 2007

To get published, you just have to know the right people ...

... and other fallacies.

This one irks me more than most, to be honest. I've seen it in blog comments, feedback, whiny 'I am SO a writer' posts on forums and more.

Does anyone seriously believe that books only make the grade because the author was buddy-buddy with the publisher? I mean, sleeping your way to the top might work in some industries, but have you looked at a bunch of author pics lately? (I think you'll agree most authors are built for writing and thinking, not for striking poses.)

Seriously ... to get published you have to write a manuscript which is better than 95-97% of the slush pile, and then you need some luck, which usually means an editor happens to be looking for something in your genre when your manuscript crosses their desk.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)


Mary Paddock said...

I agree and have been hoping against hope that I was right. Because I don't know any of the "right" people.

On the other hand, I have noticed a rather sharp upsurge in air brushed photos on the back cover of books. In that respect, looking good is more important than it used to be.

Simon Haynes said...

I really hesitated before posting this. While it's a comfort to think that anyone can get published, it's also a downer for someone who's been trying for a while and hasn't got anywhere. (ie. If it's not the system keeping them out, maybe it's the manuscript.)

I didn't know any of the right people, and still don't have buddy contacts in the industry. My original plan was to gain publication credits with my short fiction and trade on those.

Ironically, that had no impact on the eventual outcome, although seeing a few of my stories in print did give me the confidence I needed to keep going.

Julia Buckley said...

Yeah, I know quite a few published novelists - NONE of them knew the Right People.

Although I'm sure knowing the Right People probably helps.

Simon Haynes said...

A recommendation might get your manuscript read a little quicker, but it still has to meet the 95/4 rule. Agents won't take you on as a favour to one of their clients, and publishers don't print books through a sense of obligation.

Anonymous said...

Mark Twain wrote a (typically) good piece on this exact topic many years ago! This is one link to that story:


Simon Haynes said...

It's been going on for a while, I see.