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?
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.