“This is great, honey . . . When are you planning on publishing?”
They explain that the publishing market is looking for young blood, and the longer you wait, the older you get and the less sensational your book will be. You can only be a prodigee for so long. They tell you that your work is good enough that if you would just commit, do a couple revisions and a little research, within a few weeks, you’ll be signing a book contract. Not only that, you’ll be making money!
“Agents?” they say. “You don’t need an agent!”
“Query letters?” they say. “A simple: ‘Hello, would you publish my book please?’ should suffice.”
“Editors?” they say. “They’re just there to make sure you put your semi-colons in the right places.”
To them, the publishing game works like it does in Graham Greene’s world:
‘”I’ve read your novel,” he said. “We’d like to publish it. Would it be possible for you to look in here at eleven?”
Except it doesn’t. And we writers know it.
Why all the rush to get published NOW? The concept of needing time to perfect the writing craft does not seem to be something people can grasp. If you’ve strung together enough sentences to fill up a novel-length manuscript, regardless of tact or talent, it’s time to get in the publishing game.
Don’t let people badger or bully you into throwing your newborn book into the cold hard lap of the corporate business world. If you don’t feel ready, then you aren’t ready. Write for fun. Write for self-fulfillment. You’ve got time. If you’re any good now, you’ll only get better.
Granted, maybe publishing houses are putting out a lot of books by young adults, but how many are they putting out by mature, fully-grown authors? And really, I realize that the novella you wrote when you were fifteen – the one about the talking warrior tadpoles? – won you first prize in a scholastic achievement competition, but do you really want that hanging over your head when you’re trying to pitch a crime thriller or a biography twenty years later?
Murder In The Dead Of Night by Jane Doe, award-winning author of The Hoppity Legend of Tadpole Pond.