What It Is (posts below left; rate sheet, client list, other stuff below right)

My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor, indexer, and proofreader. This blog is my website.

You'll find my rate sheet and client list here, as well as musings on the life of a freelancer; editing, proofreading, and indexing concerns and issues; my ongoing battles with books and production; and the occasional personal revelation.

Feel free to contact me directly with additional questions: landondemand@gmail.com.

Thanks for visiting. Leave me a comment. Come back often.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Getting famous writing

Epiphany:

If you want to get famous writing, you have it all backward. To be a famous published writer, you should be famous first.

I'm working on a book now that, to put it mildly, is poorly written and poorly organized. Illogical at times, cutesy to the point of distraction, and many, many cases of wrong word usage which show a certain lack of higher-functioning literacy. Yet this book is being published by a publishing house that sells millions of books a year. Millions, I tell you.

How does this happen?

Simple. It was all summed up for me at the 2006 convention of the American Academy of Religion. There was a panel discussion on getting published; the people in the audience were largely folks who were finishing up their dissertations and wondering how to parlay that achievement into a publishing deal. The panelists were from Doubleday, HarperSanFrancisco, Oxford University Press, Westminster John Knox, and one other press that I forget. In answer to the basic first question, "How do I get published?" the guy from Doubleday said -- and all the others agreed -- "When you come to us, the first thing we'll want to know is what is your platform."

I didn't know what he meant at first, but then it became very clear. "Because of who you are, what your title is, how many people you know, and how many people know you, how are we going to be able to sell your book for you without us doing a damn thing?" In other words, since we as the publishers cannot commit time and energy to your book, you'll be selling it yourself. So, if you want to be a famous author in this environment, concentrate first on being famous; then worry about the secondary writing-a-readable-book nonsense.

Sad but true.

3 comments:

moi said...

A vicious circle, indeed. Certainly not the best way to seek out one's fifteen minutes of time in the spotlight. Not a day goes by that I don't regret not going into plumbing.

Doris Rose said...

well thanks for providing that idea, it will make my novel much easier. So what I will do first is...find a good headline-grabber. Something like, Brittany, Paris, OJ or run for elected office should garner enough attention, then start writing. Sadly, those are what's out there.Hope you enjoy your foray into chiklit-land.
by the way, Moi says you are actually a Diety, how cool.

Bob Land said...

To Doris Rose:

Thanks for reading and responding.

If I'm a deity, it's only because Moi has made room for me in the pantheon.

I hope the chiklit thing comes to pass. I will keep my fingers crossed and my knees pressed closely together . . . or something like that.

Sorry to say, the worst books that come across my desk are from authors who have been published many times before. I just finished editing a book that was borderline incoherent . . . 15th book in print for that author. She has a Name in Her Field (psychotherapy) and I guess her books sell; otherwise I have no idea why the publishing house puts up with her.

Keep writing; then when you do become famous for something else, you'll have a bunch of manuscripts in the hopper to keep your adoring/curious masses satisfied.

And bless all you authors. When people find out I'm an editor, they ask what I'm writing. I tell them, "Nothing. Writing is hard work. What I do is easy." And I am not kidding.

Thanks again.