Friday, October 18, 2013

Don't be discouraged by the Publishing Grinches. Publish that book!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a children's story written by Dr. Seuss and published by Random House in 1957. The National Education Association named the book one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children" and the book was the basis of a 2000 movie starring Jim Carrey and directed by Ron Howard.

The Grinch was a miserable, antisocial creature who stole Christmas presents and decorations.

Now, "grinch" is no longer limited to ruining Christmas. It has come to mean
an unpleasant person who spoils other people's fun or enjoyment (Merriam-Webster). There are lots of grinches in book publishing who get in the way of writers.

Many writers turn to independent self-publishing or "self-publishing companies" after being rejected by grinchy agents or publishers. (Of course, many writers -- like me -- prefer the control, speed and income of independent publishing.)

While rejection can be depressing and discouraging, the failure to be approved by the media gatekeepers is not necessarily an indication of bad writing or an uninteresting idea.
  • Books are rejected for many reasons (not only bad quality), but they usually are accepted for one reason: because someone thinks they will make money.
Sarah Palin's Going Rogue and the endless stream of celebrities' addiction/abuse/confession/recipes/weight-loss books are not published in anticipation of glorifying the publisher by winning Pulitzer prizes. They are published in anticipation of making money.

Professional judgment is imperfect.

Many books that are rejected by one publisher -- or by many publishers -- are later accepted by another publisher and become very popular and profitable.

Joanne Rowling's first Harry Potter book was rejected by TWELVE publishing companies. More than 400 million Potter books have been sold, and the Potter movies have been seen by many millions. I wonder if any of the publishing executives who rejected that first book were fired for bad judgment.

Most books published by traditional publishing companies with highly paid experts having years of experience, do not sell well. After a few months they are doomed to be sold on the buck-a-book tables or recycled into the raw materials for more books.

My taste in books apparently puts me in the minority of book buyers. Often I eagerly buy a new book as soon as it is released. As expected, I love the book. Alas, few others care about the subject, and the book is soon available for almost nothing at Barnes & Noble or Dollar Tree. This has become a running joke in my family, and my wife would strongly prefer that I wait a while and pay just one dollar instead of $25.

But I won't wait.

There may be many people like me who are waiting for what you are writing. Find a way to reach us.

If you can't get a contract from a publisher, self-publish... on paper, online, or in ebooks.

Don't be stopped. Don't be silenced. Don't skip professional editing and design. Don't publish crap. Readers may want your words. Get to work.

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