Nathan Bransford, Author

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The First Rule of Publishing: There Are No Rules

March Madness is here, and although I have mostly only digressed about bad TV in this blog I also am a bit of a die-hard basketball fan. As in when they advertised a contest with a grand prize custom Sacramento Kings room (complete with purple walls and Kings memorabilia) my girlfriend had to tell me to not get any ideas. I have been known to shout at the TV during games, which scares my dog to death. I heart basketball. So it is with great pain that I write this blog as my college team, Stanford, is down 26 POINTS AT THE HALF. What are they trying to do to me???

When I'm not watching my team get utterly destroyed at the hands of Rick Pitino and his gimmicky but always annoyingly effective full court presses and zones, I have been spending some time over with the good people at the Absolute Write message board, where I've been answering questions from aspiring authors. As best I can. Really, I'm trying. The thing about publishing questions is that they're ridiculously hard to answer, because you're trying to give people general advice that applies to all such situations, but in an industry where there are something like 125,000 books published every year there is no such thing as a general rule. So the Q&A's sometimes go something like this (these are made up, in case your hyperbole detector is in for repairs):

Questioner: How do I get my monkey novel published?
Me: Well, what you should do is write the whole thing, revise revise revise, query agents, and make sure that your book is a stand-alone work because you should listen to your agent and editor on whether to make it a series.
Third person: Actually, I got my monkey series published after only writing two pages, I didn't have an agent, and now I'm a major bestseller. How you like them bananas?
Me: Oh.

So who's right, me or the mega-bestseller? Well, both of us, because we just outlined two paths to success. I would argue, though, that although there are always always always exceptions that you hear about, I try to give people the solution that I think has the best chance of success. You're facing long odds on the road to publication, and I always think it's important to make those odds as good as possible by choosing the route with the best odds.

HOWEVER. I also don't have a monopoly on the best-route advice, nor is there even such a thing as a guaranteed path to get your book published by a publishing house. I offer but one perspective, and it's important to get a range of advice from publishing blogs, from talking with authors, from joining message boards like Absolute Write, and then, once you've heard a veritable cacophony of perspectives, choose your own path.

And whatever you do, be prepared for the press when you play Louisville. And try not to lose by 25 points. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to bang my head against my desk for a while.


ERozanski said...

Crap, I picked Stanford on my bracket chart....

I too heart b-ball. As a Hoosier grad, IU won their last national championship my senior year, basketball is in my blood.

Pitino is tough...even with little talent on the court he is hard to beat.

B.E. Sanderson said...

Sorry to hear your team is doing poorly. I'm the same way eith football - shouting at the TV like they can hear me and freaking out my cat.

In any group of people, you're likely to get the one people who's done everything better and quicker. The problem is, when they are the exception and pretend to be the rule. You're absolutely write - get a wide range of opinions and advice. Never assume just because one guy had the easy way work out for him, it'll work for you.

Roxan said...

I've run into the "rules" at times. I tend to crash through them leaving chaos in its path. People try to make the rules stick and I've seen more than one work butchered by those who think they know the rules.

Stephen Parrish said...

I'm a Louisville alumnus. I think the game went quite well, actually.

Kim Stagliano said...

How 'bout them BC Eagles! Um, my husband told me they won today. I haven't paid attention to BC sports since the Flutie years.

Christopher M. Park said...

Well said on the publishing notes.

As to the basketball... who watches those silly west coast teams, anyway? *Ducks* Ah, just kidding. But seriously, news of those teams doesn't make its way over into ACC territory too much. I wouldn't expect Stanford to have too great a team, since academics is such a focus there--but I really don't know anything about west-coast college sports. Is Stanford normally a good team? (Meaning no disrespect to all the crazed Standford grads/fans... really, don't send me hate mail.)


sex scenes at starbucks said...

Go Kansas.

Roxan said...

Note to self: Nathan can't stay on subject, neither can most of his blog readers. If he mentions basketball be prepared for all things about writing and publishing to be ignored. LOL

Michele Lee said...

Hey, I'm in Louisville! but yanno, being a U of L drop out has me firmly convinced that they could be doing better things with funds than paying Pitino millions, like, I dunno... not ending my scholarship.

Bitterness aside, AW can be a rough place. Some people over there are amazing, wonderful.... all that jazz. Some are those artsy fartsy types who think they know all the answers and tend to be caught in cycles of extreme confidence and down-in-the-dumps crashes of rejection. (That said I'm Michele Lee over there too ;)

ERozanski said...

Okay, I know we don't read this blog to gab about b-ball, but I just have to give a woot to my Hoosiers who beat Gonzaga last night...and to the redemption of my bracket chart. I picked VCU to upset Duke!

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Anyone who roots against Duke is a friend of mine.

Roxan said...

I'm a member at AW, but I don't post. I agree with Michele Lee. Lots of artsy fartsy people over there. Much of AW does not impress me, but there is good information at times.

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