Friday, December 25, 2009

Publishing Myths Contest!

I read with great interest about Ally Condie’s recent 7-figure deal with Dutton. It has us aspiring writers all in a kerfuffle. In online writer’s forums, the skinny is that Ms. Condie, like Stephenie Meyer, is Mormon, a graduate of BYU, and mother to three children. This has spawned speculation that the upper echelon of publishing is comprised of a “Mormon Mafia” of BYU alumni. Will my odds of getting published improve if I move to Provo, convert, and squeeze out another kid?
HA HA HAHAHGAH AHAHA HSNORTHAHA! Oh, whew. There should be a class at the gym that's just rolling around on the floor while guffawing.

That's fabulous, and a terrific kick off to our new year's contest:
MAKE UP THE BEST PUBLISHING MYTH.

Points will be awarded mostly for humor, but having some slight connection to reality or some vaguely believable "proof" will make for the strongest contenders. Ideally, I'd like to see several of these myths go on to long, anonymous lives on the internet where they will be passed from newbie to newbie like a cold in a preschool.

Entries should be posted in the comments here, by January 1st.

105 comments:

Sam said...

The greatest myth I know is that author X was rejected 26 times before he/she made it big.

I compiled a list of 10 authors who were legendarily rejected a mystical 26 times:

http://riddleburger.wordpress.com/2007/09/17/lengle-tops-list-of-top-10-authors-who-got-rejected-26-times/

L'Engle, Seuss,Grisham, Karen Jay Fowler and more!

Carol Brendler said...

While this is, of course, a myth, it's my understanding the members of the Church of Latter Day Saints have been encouraged by elders to write literature for children. Certainly a fair number of children's authors are Mormon, and many of them are quite talented (though I personally would not include Ms. Meyer among them). :-) So there's a tiny grain of truth to the legend. Now I'm off to come up with my own rumor.

Chris Eldin said...

HAHAHAHAHA! Okay, here goes:

As editorial assistant, I spend my time doing two things. Teaching my Intern the difference between loaded and non-loaded lattes, and going to photo shoots.

You see, once you make it in publishing, all of your family members, friends, and their friends want you to publish their books. No problem! My sister just wrote a book last week called "How to Keep Your Vampire Man Under Control During Your Menstrual Cycle." I told her to lie and say she's Mormon and it worked! She's getting a bunch of money, and giving me half.

Anyway, back to me. The folks in marketing are taking a black and white photo of me coming out of the bathroom for her book cover.

Sometimes there's just not enough time in the day to do all these photo shoots for my family's books. The editor in chief gave me a nice tip to help me manage my time. He said that once a week, I should go to my email inbox and "select all," then "delete." I should alternate the days so nobody gets suspicious. Fridays are the best because I can let all my emails build up and then.... WHOOSH! Once our server got jammed up. I think other assistants must've been doing the same thing at the same time.

Not all books need to have a photo shoot though. Yesterday, my neighbor's kid scribbled something for his art class. We're using it for the cover of the picture book I wrote yesterday after drinking a loaded latte.

I wish I could go on and on. But photo shoots have an extra benefit I hate to miss out on. All those naked editors, at one place at one time. Too bad so many are gay.

*****

EA, I'm never gonna find an agent now... sigh...

Tricia said...

I just had my third kid and I'm a Mormom, but dang it! I didn't go to BYU. I went to the University of Utah. I ruined my chances of publication. Oh the follies of youth.

If I had to pick again I would still go to the University of Utah.

Great contest idea.
Thanks

Amanda J. said...

Too funny!! :D

Merry Monteleone said...

The truth about publishing that they'll never tell you is that looks count. No, no, not the look of your cover art, though truthfully, get a terrible cover and terrible sales are sure to follow... What I'm talking about is the author's appearance. Yep, you really need to be young and vivacious - or at least hot for your age. Sure, there are a few exceptions - I don't know too many people who would classify Stephen King as hot, but he writes horror (and let's be honest, he's a little scary looking). Yep, image is absolutely everything and stunning prose won't make up for yellow crooked teeth and facial moles (unless you're writing witch fiction, then we can maybe spin it as life experience).

So stop wasting so much time in your pajamas writing and working on craft - what you really need to be doing is working on your abs and visiting a good plastic surgeon, and maybe having those teeth capped. Because really, that fantastic plot aint gonna sell nearly as much as a steamy author photo.

(I hope I get points for keeping down the cringe-factor while I was writing that twaddle :-)

Happy Holidays, EA.

Tricia said...

Here's my entry:

its plane simple. If your a really really excellent good writer. All you need is a strong voice and a STEUPENDOUS story, Publisher's and Agent's will you're mistakes for you.

J. L. Bell said...

Myth: The same midlist nonfiction books can be published as "groundbreaking" and "the untold story" every 10-12 years by different authors, and no one will notice.

Reality: The cycle is actually every 7-9 years.

Anonymous said...

And yet ... another debut author who is Mormon got a mid-6-figure deal from HarperTeen recently for her YA series...

Go figure.

Anonymous said...

The Mormon Mafia myth might be more amusing if it wasn't continually reinforced by reality...

catdownunder said...

Dear Editorial Anonymous, Purrlease, are you trying to purrpetuate the myth that humans actually get published? I thought books were written by machines called computers?
Anything written by a human (or a cat) is automatically excluded from consideration.
Yours truly,
Cat Down Under

Literaticat said...

You can't get an agent unless you've been published. But you can't get published without having an agent!!!

You should never ask your editor or agent questions, because they might get irritated and drop you or cancel your contract. Instead, rely on internet strangers to answer your questions for you.

In fact, agents and editors are notoriously psychotic and do not understand anything about art or simple human decency. BE CAREFUL AROUND THEM!!

There is an industry-wide cabal that holds mysterious meetings in a place called "The Grove", where members decide which authors will be successful, which will never work again, and which will be sacrificed for their dark rituals.

If you earn out your advance, you should fire your agent because you obviously didn't get paid enough.

Priscilla said...

How many Baptists got book deals last years? Catholics? Secular Humanists?

I bet no one can provide those facts.

Carol Brendler said...

The dirtiest secret among publishing houses is the way they manage their slush. The ugly truth is that when slush piles threaten to overwhelm their offices -- sliding off desks, falling behind the filing cabinet -- rather than read them, savvy editors simply pick up and move the entire house across town, throwing away tons of mss in the process. They then proceed to tell writers who ask for status that their submissions "must have been lost in the move." Wise authors know this and wait until just after a publishing house's latest move is announced before submitting their work.

Ronna Paul said...

Not quite a publishing myth but book related:

You should always pay in cash when you buy books from Barnes & Noble and Borders, because they keep records of your credit card transactions and, as a result of the 2001 Patriot Act, have to send all their information on your book-buying habits to the government. In addition, they send that same information to their corporate offices and then bombard you with spam for the rest of your life. The same is true of Amazon, but you don't even have the option of paying cash.

It's okay to pay with a credit card at an independent bookstore, or to check the book out of the library, because the independent bookstores and libraries sued the government to keep their records private and won.

Debbie (Nerd Goddess) said...

Sweet! I've only got another year and a half at BYU! But I still need to get some babies out of me before my big book deal, I guess... ;)

Um. My lovely sister gave me the advice her boyfriend supposedly heard from Orson Scott Card's wife (how's that for a distant connection?) that the best way to break into publishing is by self-publishing a book, because that way when you query you are "already in the business." I politely told her that I didn't think that was a good idea.

Michael Reynolds said...

Here's a myth: that it's not about money.

It's about money. It's Newscorp and Disney and Bertelsmann and Holtzbrinck and Hachette and the rest and it's definitely about money for them.

And as long as you're trying to put food on the table and pay the mortgage it's about money for you, too.

Redleg said...

Oh, this isn't a myth. This is the God's honest truth. The best way to get published is to set up a system to auto-query agents with the same query letter hundreds of times a day. That way they'll have to take you seriously. You'll batter down the walls of the publishing industry.

Ellen Jackson said...

The reason vampire books are so hot these days is because publishers are themselves a bunch of blood-sucking vampires. Editorial Anon. actually chooses to remain anonymous because she doesn’t want you to see the flash of her canines.

Say, is there a prize for this contest?

Ellen Jackson said...

Your publisher has a big bin of money like Scrooge McDuck. They’ll spread this money around like fertilizer to make your picture book a success–because you, little first time author, have written a masterpiece.

Ellen Jackson said...

Superstar Agents and Editors are all members of the Illuminati and have a secret handshake and an invisible mark on their foreheads so that they can recognize each other. To get your manuscript published by a Big Important Publisher, you must, at the very least, know the secret handshake. And it helps if you have a decoder ring too.

Lee Ann Setzer said...

The "Mormon Mafia" is an extraordinarily strong, friendly, inclusive writing community.

Come to Life, the Universe, and Everything, BYU's (free) symposium on science fiction and fantasy. Betcha if you're a nice person too, you won't even have to convert or give birth to be a part of the community.

AudryT said...

ROFLMAO.

Takes a deep breath.

ROFLMAO. Again.

And now it's my turn:

The biggest myth about publishing is that anyone can write a book. Well, a book that other people want to read.

Anonymous said...

It seems like a lot of these LDS YA writers with many-figured contracts are agented by Jodi Reamer. What's up with that?

onelowerlight said...

Bwahahaha! Yes, we Mormons are taking over publishing, just like the Jews took over film and theater. We especially dominate the fields of science fiction, fantasy, and YA literature. It's all in our secret plans to take over the world!

Seriously, though, there's a very strong writing community in Utah, with events such as LTUE, BYU Writers and Illustrators for Young Readers, CONduit, the awesome Writing Excuses podcast, and that creative writing class at BYU taught by Brandon Sanderson. I was at World Fantasy convention in San Jose earlier this year and recognized almost thirty people from various conventions and conferences in Utah.

As a practicing Mormon, I'm not convinced this is because the religion itself explicitly encourages its members to write fiction (historically, 19th century Mormons disparaged novels and novel-writing just as much as anyone else), but there certainly is something about the religion or the religious culture that lends itself to the kinds of themes and tropes found in science fiction and fantasy. Just what it is that draws Mormons disproportionately to these genres is a fascinating question with many differing answers. Personally, I think it's because the sense of wonder that defines these literary genres resonates so well with the Mormon experience, but I'm sure there are other possible explanations.

Anonymous said...

Next cycle of America's Next Top Model is gonna be all editors' assistants, and the photos are only going to be partials and body parts. No lie, Tyra tweeted it (but don't let the Mormon mafia hear).

SammyStewart said...

As a Mormon who graduated from BYU (the Idaho Version) with two children, this makes me giddy. Only a matter of time until that 6 or 7 figure advance rolls in, right? And Jodi Reamer decides she needs me on her client list. LOL. Latter Day Saints believe in good and evil instead of moral relativism. Good and evil make for interesting reading. It might be a shallow guess, but I'll run with it. That's my justification for the likes of Orson Scott Card, Brandon Sanderson, Shannon Hale, Aprillynne Pike, and even Stephenie Meyer...as well as the "anonymous" author of GO ASK ALICE.

As for publishing myths, one of the most shocking I'd ever heard was that ALL literary agents charge money. Good thing I knew better at the time. Thank you, internet.

Anonymous said...

# 1 Publishing Myth:

That you must write a million words before you produce something worth publishing ... pshaw! My first 250,000 (penned during NaNo, the first book in a planned trilogy) ... are PERFECT!

Josin L. McQuein said...

Myth:

The existing best sellers have thrown their collective influence together and conspired to make sure that no one with real talent can get published. Using their considerable selling power, they make sure that the only pieces that reach publication are so riddled with grammatical errors and abused adverbs that their own prose shines by comparison. Whenever a new "breakout" happens, someone from this group contacts them and enlists their help with the cover-up. It's easily proven, just look at the steady decline in quality from a published author's first works to their latter ones and count the number of errors in their debut vs. their 12th best-seller.

Editorial Anonymous said...

I am seeing a trend. Some of you are adding to the "mormon mafia" myth (a strong contender), others of you are building a myth-cloud about how to be a successful author. I also like the myth about publishers moving their offices to avoid the slush (I can almost imagine that happening). It's... myths by wiki! I love it!

Deirdre Mundy said...

Editors keep extensive records on everyone who submits to the slush. If you have a typo in your manuscript or cover letter, you will be forever marked as 'incompetant,' and all future submissions will go straight to the garbage can.

Also, editors share this information with each other at conferences. The only way to break in to publishing after you've been marked as a grammatical fool is to send expensive gifts of chocolate with each submission.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I've actually seen a fair bit of commentary (At First Things, Touchstone, and other Christian magazines prone to LitCrit) about how Mormon beliefs specifically lend themselves to creating good Fantasy and SciFi.

I'm pretty much doomed. As a Catholic, if you can't create a universe as theologically correct as Tolkien's, you're just a failure! ;) (Though if you can reach Lewis-levels of accuracy, you get some points.....)

Seriously, though, I would imagine that religious belief DO factor into world-building in fantasy and sci-fi--simply because your view of how a realm ought to work will be influenced by how your take on reality.......

Though authors also have to be careful not to whack people over their head with their religion--- I sort of gave up on Card's Alvin Maker series when it got TOO religious.

Anonymous said...

There's a Brown/Yale Mafia controlling all the plum editing jobs. God forbid you went to Seton Hall. If you did, you'll end up in marketing or production.

Anonymous said...

Myths I have actually believed before the opposite happened to me:

1) All you have to do is get an agent and you'll have it made. They will leap over walls and run obstacles courses to get you published, big time, by big houses, for big money. REALITY: Said agent will dump your ass if your book fails to sell.

2) All you have to do is sell one book, your editor will automatically want another from you and another, as fast as you can write them. You are a team, I say, a team. Her goal is to make your name/work known. REALITY: Said editor didn't buy your option book or the others following it, you're never really sure why as her reasons don't make total sense.

3) Your publisher will promote your book with all their human power. REALITY: No, they won't even hand out your ARCs at ALA or Book Expo, so you have pretty much the book catalog as your only, sad promo. Whee!

4) Your book will stay in print and be available for a long time. REALITY: without a stong buy-in, your book isn't stocked at the big box stores and you have to lie and say "They must be sold out, try Amazon," when friends/family ask where in the hell your book is.

5) You have to be super successful or you'll hate writing. REALITY: despite that all the above has happened to me, I love writing more now than ever. I think that means I'm a writer. Or, I'm delusional, maybe a little of both.

Emily M. said...

Carol Brendler, as a lifelong Mormon, I can safely say that I've never been encouraged by any elders to write literature for children. If you have a source for that, I'd love to see it--it sounds like a talk I would enjoy readying. There's a great Mormon writing community, but it's definitely a grassroots thing, not something mandated top-down.

Mormon leaders do encourage creativity and reading and writing good books. There's also a long Mormon theatrical tradition. There are a lot of individual Mormon writers pursuing the Great Mormon Novel. But I've never heard of a leader specifically counseling members to write for children. (I'm fairly young, so it could have been before my time.)

My conspiracy theory: All publishing houses are really One Giant Publishing House, and their editors meet secretly, so as to avoid anti-trust agencies, to determine what will and will not get published.

Karen Schwabach said...

The myth: The publisher will steal your idea and give it to an already-established writer to write. And pay him/her a bajillion dollars.

The reality: The publisher will steal your idea, have it stripped down for tropes, and sell the tropes on some havey-cavey Stolen Ideas market down by the docks. There some already established writer will purchase the parts for pennies on the dollar, have it reassembled by underpaid workers in a sweatshop, and sell it for a bajillion dollars.

Liesl said...

Did you hear about how some publishers are using rare forms of hypnosis to convince the loose-minded masses to buy more books?

“They have the technology,” a disgruntled mid-list author told me. “I knew about it when I was trying to sell my book, but I have morals for crying out loud, and this is nothing more than brainwashing.”

It’s called “Hypnosis Imaging” and it works particularly well on children and teens, but publishers have found that some light-minded adults are also susceptible to its lure. Certain images, secret symbols that ignite a powerful magnet in your brain, are embedded into the cover-art of books. “The covers are like brain-sucking leeches,” says Disgruntled Author.

Our current generation of teens does seem to have a glazed look in their eye and the responses to their choices of literature are also fishy. “I just love it,” some say, or “I physically can’t put it down.” Because actually they can’t.

You know which books we’re talking about, the books that seem all innocent and cute, but look closely at some of them, (keeping your mind good and locked of course.) You’ll see symbols and patterns you might not have noticed at first, but are clearly nothing more than hypnotic images.

This brings new meaning to the saying; “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

p.s. I am a Mormon housewife with three children. Can anyone tell me how to get in touch with said Mafia? I want in.

Cam Snow said...

There is actually only one editor left on the planet, and he does nothing, but drink Lattes while training a zombie-horde of interns to do his bidding. He has not read nor edited a book in over 300 of your Earth years.

Myrna Foster said...

BYU has the best writing teachers in the world.

Sherryl said...

In every publishing house, the slush pile grows and grows.
Once a month, all the editors and editorial assistants (except those who have families and demand they come home) get together around a big table, order in a pile of pizzas (and beer for those who drink it, something stronger for those who need it) and go through the slush pile as fast as they can.
The editor/assistant who hits 100 rejections first gets to go home early.

I wish I was joking but I have seen this one on several blogs and other sites. It may well be true ... but for the writer in the slush pile, it's ... (fill in appropriate word).

Wendy S said...

Most celebrities have achieved their fame because it's the easiest way to get a children's book contract.

Anonymous said...

I think the moral of the story is that the publishing world is as full of mafias as the real world (as depicted by the literary world).

Myth: J.K. Rowling uses actually spells in Harry Potter to encourage children to explore Satanism. (Oh wait, I didn't make that myth up, Fox News did! Sorry, sorry.)

Also, word verification is "teatsess", which makes me sort of uncomfortable. I've had a lot of weird ones lately-- you know, I'm pretty sure that's what Dan Brown's next batch of books is going to be about!

If the publishing company is full of vampires, Twilight got published because a drag queen mafia within the business wanted to see its members accurately represented in the arts, sparkles, fangs, and all.

Beth Greenway said...

If you affix the wrong type of stamp on your envelope you’ll be judged as an amateur and your submission will be immediately thrown into the reject pile.


The scary/funny part: I actually read this being discussed on a reputable writer’s site. Yikes.

Jimmer said...

Mine is along the same line as Karen's...

Major publishing houses still accept slush for the following reason: once every two or three years, a newbie writer sends in a dreadful picture book manuscript that contains an excellent idea. Each house has a protocol for handling such submissions. The specially trained slush reader reports directly to the office of a designated editor (at one house, the ms is placed in a fuchsia colored folder to signal the editor to quickly terminate her phone conversation.) If the editor agrees with the reader's assessment, she has the authority to immediately contact a big-name children's book author who long ago ran out of fresh ideas. This author has previously agreed to transform such a manuscript into a delightful story within a given amount of time--two hours, maybe three, depending on the house. Next, a young illustrator full of fresh ideas is contacted and told to be ready to put all current projects on hold. He will have perhaps a week to complete sketches and final art (he was selected for his simple style and fast-drying medium.) All of this is arranged--including contracts drawn up and sent for signing--before lunch (assuming that the slusher made his/her discovery over morning coffee.) Then the printing is fast-tracked. A certain printer in the Xiamen province of southeastern China will interrupt his schedule for a nominal fee. Nine months later, Newbie Writer will find his picture book idea on display at Barnes and Noble. If he has the temerity to contact the publisher, he will be told that the project had obviously been in production for years. Newbie Writer shrugs his shoulders and licks another stamp.

Rose Green said...

Like Emily M, I'd love to see the talk that instructs Mormons to write for children. It would help me explain that I'm actually doing something productive, not just sitting around, staring at the computer screen all day. And, I was at BYU at the same time at Stephenie Meyer--do I get a free pass, too? :)

My myth: if only you can personally hire the right illustrator, the picture book you wrote in a day will go on to sell millions and maybe even movie rights...

Rose Green said...

Oh yeah--and I think another myth is that being rejected 26 times is "a lot."

ROTFL.

Vonna said...

When querying an agent, be sure to include a live eight week old chihuahua. Since agents can't resist dressing dogs in costumes, include an array of holiday outfits that will make the puppy look like the main character in your book. Don't forget to sew labels in the costumes with your blog address on it so several times a year the agent will be reminded that she hasn't answered your query yet.

FH said...

Not necessarily a publishing myth, but one we've all heard:

Writing for children is easier than writing for adults.

Related:

When you learn to write, you'll move on to writing grownup books.

Carol Brendler said...

@Emily M.: I was misinformed,then. I thought it was something the church encourages. Please don't take the comment as a criticism, for it wasn't meant to be.

Andrew Wheeler said...

Publishing is not-so-secretly controlled by sales reps. And I'll tell you how they do it.

You know how they say that they need to go visit their major accounts every so often, to present your titles? Well, it just so happens that every sales rep visits the same accounts on the same days. What they really do is all go out drinking together -- reps from all of the houses, and the buyer (who, traditionally, never has to pay for a round all night). They carry around their sales materials as they traipse from bar to bar, getting more and more merry as they go. At last call, whatever blads and tipsheets that can still be read under the imprint of a thousand pint-glass rings get those books front-of-store placement and major promotions. Any titles the reps can still pronounce get a decent purchase quantity. Everything else is skipped.

Anonymous said...

There is a list which has been circulated throughout the publishing industry as an enormous e-mail list of names. This list comprises of authors who have submitted so many manuscripts so atrociously bad that they're hilariously good. These stories are so bad in fact that these authors have become favorites among people in the publishing industry and they are then tagged as a 'one to watch for in the slush pile' When the said author has been flagged it is then passed around via email attachment for all those members on the listserv to enjoy. These folks aren't aware of it, but their stories are treasured jewels in the seedy underground of children's publshing.

Deirdre Mundy said...

If you put the name of a specific editor on your envelope and write "requested material" you can bypass the slush and get special consideration--even if the material was NOT requested.

Since you've bypassed the slush, the actual editor will read your submission, and everyone knows that editors are nicer than those cranky interns SO

Your heartwarming tale about how grandma knitted you a pair of talking mittens who comforted you after your puppy was run over by a backhoe (illustrated by your child and your rabbit) will FINALLY RECIEVE THE ACCLAIM it deserves.

And you'll be filthy, stinking, rich, like Madonna.

Because being polite and playing by the rules just makes the editors laugh at your innocence as they toss your manuscript (written in blood and tears) onto the martini-fueled bonfire....

----Question--- if publishing is run by a Mormon mafia, why do interns have to make coffee runs? Is it just a cruel joke? Or do the editors want it NOT for drinking, but just for leaving coffee rings on manuscripts?

Janet Reid said...

(1) Publishing is dead
(2) the book is dead
(3) there is something called "traditional publishing"
(4) Janet Reid is nice

Michelle said...

My favorite publishing myth is that editors are all failed writers. The fact that I work as a nonfiction editor during the day and write YA fiction at night just goes to prove this.

P.S. You can include me as another Mormon who graduated from BYU and writes fantasy for young adults. Still working on the husband and kids, though.

Hope Vestergaard said...

Publishing myth number 7: if you are a young, hot wunderkind, you are much more likely to be published than a frumpy, Midwestern housewife.

I didn't believe the rumors that PYTs were more likely to be published. After all, haven't we heard a thousand times that editors only want to see our outstanding manuscripts? Attaching a Glamour Shot to a ms. is supposed to be the kiss of death. (And who's biased against frumpy Midwesterners, anyway? Look at Garrison Keillor's success!) And yet...after thirteen years of submitting my highly polished, totally compelling and topical manuscript, I was growing disillusioned that it's the work that matters most. Last New Year's Eve, after a few too many glasses of champagne, I made up an alter-ego. I changed my query letter to state that I was a junior in high school at an impoverished inner-city charter school for performing artists, and attached a photo of a random, pretty teen from one of my Facebook ads. (I figured a newbie, especially a hot one, would be forgiven this transgression). I mass emailed my entire mss along with my query (as an attachment! Another "no-no"!) and sent it to thirty-two publishers and agents just before midnight. The next morning, I awoke with an awful headache and pangs of regret. I hadn't even changed my name on the queries! What if publishers and agents looked me up in their naughty lists and realized I was being deceitful?! Dread soon turned to elation as emails and phone calls began pouring in. Not only did I receive more than 90% positive responses to my 4,000 word picture book about a grouchy grandma who is adopted by a stray chihuahua who thinks he's a cat, one agent offered immediate representation with auction interest from five major publishers and one movie studio. Alas, when the winning bidder flew me to NYC for BEA meet-and-greets, they were less than thrilled by my deception and appearance (I've since lost 37 pounds on the cookie diet) and I was forced to refund my six-figure advance and take the Greyhound bus home. A rough experience, true, but being right is so very worth it.

Karen Schwabach said...

FH wrote:

"Writing for children is easier than writing for adults."

Oh, FH, you are so right. That myth is particularly dear to people who are trying to get their adult manuscripts published.

Sigh.

christine tripp said...

Rumour has it that Editors are encouraged, nay, instructed that a large part of their job at a Publishing house is to recruit celebrity authors. Publishers love celebs and so to do Editors, and really, who doesn't? Editors enjoy the challenge and rewards of working with and writing celebrity books. So important are these books to the survival of the publishing industry, that there exists a number of Editors in each house who are charged with the task of scouting, headhunting if you will. You can spot Editors where ever stars gather. Leaning against the ropes at a red carpet event, among the paparazzi, at sporting events, always with their arm outstretched, contract waving in the breeze, shouting out, "Reese, Reese, over here, you MUST read my contract, it's the best"!!!
A few Editors have been known to go so far as to stalk the stars into the washroom and slip book contracts under the stalls. Shocking!
Just the other day a new and egar Editor with a major house recieved a substantial Christmas bonus for signing "Teresa Giudice" of "The Real Housewives of NJ". This Editor will now be working on Ms Giudice new Picture book series for girls, "Etiquette Shmetiquette"

Anonymous said...

There IS a Blacklist, and it's maintained via obscure hashtags on Twitter.

Lucy Woodhull said...

Okay folks, this is what your agent WON’T tell you - it is a secret passed from one to the other, from publisher to publisher, intern to intern, written in GREEN ink only upon a gin-soaked cocktail napkin, and transferred with the secret handshake. I don’t know exactly what the handshake is, but I do know that it involves six fingers and a decoder ring with the Harry Potter lightning bolt on it. Oh, and more gin.

J.K. Rowling has NINE letters in her name.

Stephenie Meyer has NINE letters in her first name.

Cats have NINE lives.

A stitch in time saves NINE.

What does this mean?

The word NINE is four letters long. FOUR plus NINE equals THIRTEEN. Bear with me, it’s getting good now.

There were THIRTEEN original colonies. Millard Fillmore was the THIRTEENTH president. He has FIFTEEN letters in his name. Does that seem random to you? It’s NOT!!1!

If you travel to “Random” House in New York and count the number of bricks on the north face of the building… it’s… it’s… okay, well, it’s a lot of bricks. When you get to the thirteenth brick upon the thirteenth day upon the thirteenth hour, then the Special Publishing Brick glows green, JUST LIKE THE GREEN INK, PEOPLE.

When that happens, Dan Brown appears in a thunderclap, hands you a flask (OF GIN!!) and whispers the secret of publishing in your LEFT ear.

I know. I read it on a blog.

shelley said...

""Writing for children is easier than writing for adults.""

Don't forget the granddaddy of them all, "Getting someone to illustrate your manuscript will help it's chances of getting published." This one simply will not die, no matter how many times it's shot down.

ae said...

If your blood type is AB positive you will have two or more houses auctioning your book(s). Take your pick. If it is AB negative you will have one or fewer houses auctioning your book(s). Very unlikely.

If your blood type is A positive you will have one strong offer but no auction. This is very common.
If it is A negative you will have one weak offer but no auction. This does not happen very often.

If your blood type is B positive you will go to acquisitions and you may get one strong offer. This is normal. If it is B negative you will go to acquisitions and you may get one weak offer. This does not happen very often.

If your blood type is O you should consider getting multiple agents, because you will be universally popular across many genres and age groups and will have multiple offers and endless options for film rights. Everyone one will need and want you especially when the supply of good books and films dwindles. There are good years and bad years.

This theory was tested on all the Vampire book authors, and of course it has been proven that the author of Twilight has type O blood (and so does Edward).

Emily M. said...

@Carol Brendler--no worries. :-) There is actually a lot of "develop your talents" stuff from Mormon leaders, but I've never seen one that says to write for children. Sigh. I wish.

Count me as another BYU-graduate mom of three who wants to meet the Mormon publishing mafia.

Book Editing said...

All books are properly edited before publication!

TK Roxborogh said...

here's a story that could be a legend:

An author of some repute in her own country is rejected by a Penguin NZ editor for a manscript which the experienced author has already recieved 32,000 worth in the way awards and residencies. In a moment of frustration (after receiving the 'it's not for me' email), she flicks an email to the editor with the subject line: "something I've been working on" and attaches a synopsis and the first three chapters.

Within thirty minutes, the editor responds and asks for more; within two weeks, a deal is signed and two months later when the book is finished (the author wrote 120,000 words in three months), a young agent from Writers House signs the author.

The book is a best seller in the author's country, debuting third on the best sellers list and remains on the list for weeks. The reviews are effusive.

But, the US editors can't place it - is it YA or NA or A? For weeks, it is passed over.

**** Then, while on holiday with his family, Peter Jackson gives the book to his teenage daughter who just loves it and implores her father to make it into a movie.

He reads it and loves it too and makes it into a movie. The movie is epic and the book sales sky rocket and the editors who first passed it in the US slapped their foreheads only too aware they had been blinded by vampires and angels and didn't see that Scottish thanes and kings were going to be the next best thing.

The author and her agent become very rich and the author can retire from teaching.

EVERYTHING to the ***** is true. The rest is what I think might happen in my created publishing myth.

Hah - word verification is 'seing'

Amber said...

Ha Ha! Crack me up! This is hilarious but it's also got me thinking, why is our (yes, I'm another Mormon writer) religion so noted? Are we viewed as so rare? The LDS church is really quite large. Why does no one talk about how many Catholics or Presbyterians or Zoroastrians were published this year? Curiouser and curiouser. . .
Note to Carol: I think what you have heard about members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints being encouraged to write for children may have been loosely interpreted from the statements made here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhLlnq5yY7k
which encourage all people everywhere to employ the creative talents God gave them :)

Myth: The statistical Rule of Twelve can't fail. Send out twelve copies of the same manuscript simultaneously and, by the power of mathematics, you are guaranteed one positive response!

Deirdre Mundy said...

Ooh... I juat came up with an answer to my own coffee question!

Obviously, all the editors are LAPSED Mormons, hence the drinking, smoking and caffiene...

And they deal with their guilt buy hiring Mormon authors!

---

As for the obsession with Mormons--unless your town has a Mormon church, you've probably never met one. And their influence in Fantasy/Sci Fi circles is far greater than their numbers in the general population..... hence the rumors of the 'great Mormon Conspiracy'

For instance, Jessica Day George-- AWESOME fantasy writer, but I have a feeling she's Mormon.. (Bio says she went to BYU, lives in Utah...)

My guess? Tracy Weiss and Orson Scott Card inspired a generation of young Mormon kids to try their hand at FSF--- and since Mormons DO tend to be more solidly upper-middle-class than the general population, a high percentage of them had the family support necessary for following their dreams.

Also, the 'Mother of Three' magic makes sense. In my experience, if you're a stay at home mom of three who is NOT particularly crafty or Martha Stewartish, writing is the ONE THING you do all day that gives an actual sense of accomplishment. Because everything else you do is UNDONE withing about 10 minutes..........

Kurtis said...

I know you asked for "myths" but here's the dead truth, which has been kept from aspiring writers by published writers, who necessarily keep it a secret. Sorry, EdAnon, I know that you asked for myths but it seems like a good time to come clean on this.

You need to use a "magic word" in your cover letter or your manuscript will NOT get read. It's OK to work it into the text or just add it at the bottom like a salutation, but it had BETTER be there.

Why? Because editors (and increasingly, agents) scan the cover letters using computer software to help filter out the amateurish stuff. They know anyone who's put a serious effort into attaining a level of professionalism and deserve a serious read will have learned the "magic word" (which is really a three-word phrase) at a conference or a workshop or by corresponding with published authors.

Using the phrase doesn't guarantee publication or representation, but in most cases with publishers and maybe fifty percent of agents, especially the bigger agencies, without it, your manuscript won't even get read. You'll just get that form rejection, if you even get that. If you do use the word you'll always get a personal letter, even if it's a rejection.

I myself used it by dumb luck in my plot synopsis, before I even knew about it. By the time my agent found out, it was too late--papers were already signed.

It's not really that secret any more -- just google "editors shibbolleth" and it'll come up on some blogs, although it tends to get disappeared as quickly as it appears, whenever I do a search I see the right answer somewhere on the first page. I would just tell you what it is, but I'm sure EdAnon as an editor would not appreciate it. However I've noticed she often includes parts of the phrase in the "Captcha" word verification for leaving comments, which always makes me smile.

lora96 said...

You have to live in New York to be published (unless, of course, you are a Mormon stay at home mom which gives you an edge).

We who are stranded in the snowy midwest see this as a possible excuse for our rejections--we know more people who sell farm implements than those who sell books to publishers.

Karen Schwabach said...

Oh, here's another one:

"You gotta know somebody."

This one may be true-- can't be proven or disproven. Everybody knows somebody.

Deirdre Mundy said...

BTW...according to this source: http://www.adherents.com/rel_USA.html#families

Mormons only make up about 1.3 % of the US population, compared to close to 25% for Catholics... basically the same percentage as Jews...

And the Mormon population is most heavily concentrated in a few western states--so for the rest of the country, LDS families ARE exotic and rare!

(Though here's another question--if the Mormons run publishing, why is it based out of NYC?? Wouldn't it make more sense to base it out of SLC? Heck, given Tax rates and cost of living, wouldn't it make more sense even if the industry were run by Zoroastrians????)

Actually, I bet publishing is REALLY run by satanists, and is based in NYC because the buildings are specially configured to summon demons and bring about the reign of the antichrist. In fact, most editors see 'Rosemary's Baby' as a tear-jerker romance rather than a horror movie. Furthermore, they REGULARLY down massive quantities of raw meat, which is the real reason why they never visit their authors at home-- they don't want the secret to get out.

That's also why they publish satanic fare like Harry Potter, Twighlight, and The Chronicles of Narnia.*

*Note- I once had a young woman at a booksale in Alabama explain to me that David McCauley and C.S. Lewis books were evil. I bought them anyway-- I paid 25 cents for hardcvover copies of Cathedral, City and Prince Caspian! Clearly a demonic plot.....*

monica lee said...

ok...this is funny and you know I might be shallow and agree with the steamy author photo myth...I see so many goofy pictures or creative people on the internet. I am going to take mine down, ack! I think my myth is that everyone in publishing just swaps jobs with each other...they work at this house then that house then back again. I think it is a secret club of house flippers.

christine tripp said...

Don't forget the granddaddy of them all, "Getting someone to illustrate your manuscript will help it's chances of getting published." This one simply will not die, no matter how many times it's shot down.


HA, Shelley, that is a myth that will not die because NEW authors (those yet unpublished) of PB's can not concieve of an Editor being able to "visualize" the images their few words of text might conguer up. Worse yet, they have written something that they even think is bland and boring but .... of course the right art can MAKE the whole package. Funny how these same Athours then resent the fact that the Illustrator should recieve the same amount of royalties as they:)

Pamela Hammonds said...

All you have to do to get published is to write similarly to James Patterson and not care that his name appears on your book cover in a font that's ten times larger than your own.

stacy said...

How did I miss this post?

Carol, it has nothing to do with being encouraged by church elders. (I am a Mormon, and can tell you from experience.) However, BYU has a strong writing program, especially the children's department, and a lot of great children's book and fantasy writers live here, and Utah has one of the highest birth rates in the nation. We Mormons are very children-focused, and the Intermountain West (Utah, Idaho, etc.--the central hub of the LDS church culture) has a large proportion of kids. So, it seems natural that we'd produce a lot of children's book writers.

I think it also has to do with the strong children's book community in this area, too--great conferences, etc.--which nurtures new writers.

cindy said...

that the easiest route to publication
is via the "editorial desk" which is
the casting couch equivalent for writers.

Graham Chops said...

It's like a chain letter. Except instead of a letter, it's an infestation of highly talented authors who got inside the Fortress of Publication and--in true Mormon fashion--started multiplying like rabbits.

Orson Scott Card started it with Ender's Game. Then Brandon Mull with Fablehaven, Brandon Sanderson with Elantris and Mistborn, Stephenie Meyer with Twilight (say what you will about it), Aprilynne Pike with Wings, James Dashner with Maze Runner, Ally Condie with whatever-the-heck-earned-her-seven-figures, and the list goes on.

I took BYU Independent Study, but since I'm a guy and therefore can't be a mother, I figure I don't have to do the full grad thing either. All I've got to do is marry a Utah girl and after that, I'll be friggin unstoppable on that chain.

Yamile said...

I'm not gonna add another myth, but a theory of why so many LDS authors are so successful: since we don't drink, smoke, do drugs, or party like the rest of the world, we HAVE to look for other ways to escape reality and write our own books. Otherwise, how can we endure this world?

Anonymous said...

OK, I know this is a "myth contest", and I am being a wet blanket by not writing something "wacky", but I really just wanted to take this opportunity to write out the real straight talk about how publishing really works and how to "break in":


#1 - Find an illustrator. Period. It doesn't matter what style they work in. What matters is that YOU find them YOURSELF through an acquaintance, friend, relative, neighbor, co-worker, fellow bus passenger, local florist, paperboy etc. Don't look like a newbie by expecting "the publisher" to do this!

#2 - Use "unusual" behavior to get a personal connection with an editor or agent or author. Connections are the ONLY way to ever get published. Lying, pushiness, having no boundaries, and other behaviors that are not at all OK in most other areas of life are all OK here! You won't be shunned, resented, mocked or arrested. Everyone does it, it WORKS, and it is PERFECTLY OK.

#3 - Don't bother writing out the book [Pros focus all their energies on #1 and #2]. As long as you have a really good idea, that is all you need to get a contract. The publisher will take care of the rest since you have a really good idea. That's the most important part!

#4 - The advance will be HUGE [all authors are RICH!]

#5 - You WILL be on Oprah

#6 - Your book will be prominently displayed and available in every single store everywhere and for all time. Your friends and relatives will never approach with confused looks to tell you that they were just in Borders and they didn't see your book.

#7 - The publisher sends all authors boxes of free books all the time. Think about it - it only makes perfect sense! You can give these away like water.

#8 - Your one book will make you loads of easy money and you will never have to work again, ever. You do not need to build a "body of work" or make a reputation "over time" or any of that stuff.

Good luck!

lakeviewer said...

I can't believe anything I read nowdays, especially on blogger. Let's face it, we're spinning our webs here and getting enough bites to keep us coming back for more.

I know that one bite from a rich Pub-Uncle who'll copy my post and re-set it as a reality show- will be enough for me to take him to court, win, get publicity, and see my tell-all book lenght expose/reality chaos in the limelight and my bank account reconstituted.

How's that for A Myth To Crash?

myimaginaryblog said...

Verifiable truth: Mormon mommies are over-represented in the comment threads of publishing-related blogs.

I can think of a lot of very plausible explanations for this (and I agree with those offered above) but I'm too distracted waiting for my 7-figure book deal to fall from the sky. I'm especially qualified since along with my BYU degree I have not three, but five children. (Or wait, do the extra kids disqualify me? Surely it's not my having never written a book that's standing in my way?)

Wendy S said...

Stephanie Meyer is not a member of LDS. She is a Scientologist. This can be proven by the fact that the letters in her name can be re-arranged to spell "Therapy Enemies."

The Rejection Queen said...

Sounds interesting

Fuse #8 said...

I didn't read through all the comment here, but here's my submission:

All publishing entities sign a secret pledge to publish one randomly selected slush pile manuscript per year. I can think of no better explanation for some of the stuff we see placed on bookstore shelves in a given season.

Jan said...

Publisher guidelines all include one really weird direction that is slipped in JUST so the publishers can fish out manuscripts by "rubes" who don't know the "way things are done" and reject them without reading the submission.

Sadly, I've heard this one several times in anonymous posts on blogs and discussion boards...though the "one really weird direction" varies. Like writers aren't paranoid enough.

Eilonwy said...

Editors like to know that aspiring authors are both current in the field and saavy about what a house publishes, so it is always a good idea to submit a manuscript that has the same plot and themes as the novel at the top of the bestseller list or that the editor you are querying just published.

Writers who think that originality might be more valuable than a slavish imitation of the marketplace are misguided. Editors will tell a writer what sorts of unique or personal touches they need to add to their story during the editing process.

At the same time, however, aspiring writers need to steer clear of plagiarism. For example, instead of writing about a human who falls in love with a vampire like Meyers, you should submit a story about a girl who falls in love with a boy who turns into a wolf every winter, or a fairy who falls in love with a human. It is also wise to change the names of your characters and the setting of your tale, but all significant themes--like the heroine's tortured decision to change species--need to be maintained.

Anonymous said...

There actually was an article about the Mormon children's book phenomenon in the Boston Globe some months ago:

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/03/01/faith_and_good_works/

Occasionally, there's the implication that books for kids by Mormons will be in some way proselytizing or will feature a simplistic, candy-colored moral universe. As a non-Mormon who taught in a children's writing program that included a disproportionate number of Mormon students, I'd like to point out emphatically that I found projects by these students every bit as morally nuanced and difficult as books by Catholics, Episcopalians, and the pagan Norse. (As is only logical: They were admitted to the program because of their excellence as writers, without reference to their religion, obviously. Except the pagan Norse, who were admitted because they wield bone-shattering swords of curious design).

mta

working illustrator said...

Publishing myth: that your editor will be the mother, father, therapist and cool best friend you never had.

That your publisher will provide a team of handlers who will prep you for interviews, dress you like a movie star and form a protective ring around you while whisking you in and out of glamourous parties.

That you will not be left to die alone in the snow like Andersen's Little Match Girl the minute things take a turn for the worse.

This seems like three myths, but it's really one: that getting published is the same thing as getting loved.

And can I just add: Happy New Year to our hostess in this space and to everyone else who frequents these pages. I've enjoyed our discussions this year more than I can say.

Here's to a happy and productive 2010 for all of us.

Grier Jewell said...

Celebrities need to write children's books because there just aren't any good ones out there.

Matt said...

Many people don't realize that, after the publication of the 1986 Meese Report on pornography, and following its recommendations, the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, ruled that it was illegal to publish photographs of minors on the covers of books. It was a side ruling of a challenge brought against Sarah, Plain and Tall. Though the initial suit failed to bar the book from Louisiana public schools on account of its allegedly promoting white slavery and mail order brides, the wide-ranging discussion among the justices did lead to a determination that photographs of actual children on the covers of books that deal with mature subject matter could constitute a form of obscenity, under a strict construction of the statutes. This is why, to this day, almost no YA or MG novels include full-face photographs of minors. The back-of-the-head or from-the-eyes-up photos common on today's novels reflect a careful compromise by art directors to avoid any potential legal challenges.

Merry Monteleone said...

One last one, before the 1st:

The truth about query letters. Writers loathe them - how impossible to distill your entire manuscript into a 250 word blurb. Writers scour agent and editor blogs, hoping to perfect their query, hoping for the secret to getting their pages read. Well, here it is - use thick stock paper.

The interns take each query and make paper airplanes out of them. (Everyone knows thick stock paper makes for a better airplane than generic flimsy, printer paper) The one that flies the farthest gets its pages read. If the pages are good, they go up to the agent or editor.

Little known secret, if you prefold your query into the best aerodynamic airplane design, the intern will adore you as she will win the coveted Flying Query Award... and if the intern loves you she will champion your pages - huzzah.

This is why they admonish you never, NEVER, to go over one page. Have you ever tried making a good airplane with two sheets of paper? Flying suckage, I tell you.

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Bwa-ha-ha - word verification: moble.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Happy New Year!!!


Loving these truths, um, myths, um, truths, um...

Deirdre Mundy said...

BTW-- because the satanic editors spend New Years Eve using skyscrapers to summon demons, we all must keep our minds PERFECTLY BLANK so that the demons can't take on a physical form.

Last year a panicked author accidently visualized "The Runaway Bunny" because 'He'd never hurt anyone!'--- Mayor Bloomberg still hasn't managed to clean all the piles of giant rabbit droppings out of the Bronx.......

On the other hand, if you can get someone in NYC to visualize YOUR character, you'll get the advertising event of the millennia as he stomps through NYC on every tv network.

This is the REAL reason that Levine picked up Harry Potter......

wv: peasedu--what sesame street has cookie monster doing as part of his probation for cookie addiction....

Kurtis said...

One more myth: many people won't read a blog post very carefully to find out what the prompt is before posting their response.

Anonymous said...

Publishing houses give different, made-up editor names to different marketing sources, so they know where the author who sent that slush-pile manuscript got their contact info.

Actually, I've heard this one is true. If it is, it's a dirty rotten trick.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

It's not Jan 1 yet in Hawaii, so I'm still going to write something.

Here is my gem of truth: Toss the rules. It's all about the writing. Write your novel on reems of toilet paper. Write a novella if you feel like it. Format using 6-point Comic Sans and single spacing. Add curlyques and emoticons to your work. MAKE YOUR SUBMISSION LOOK AS MUCH LIKE A *REAL* BOOK AS POSSIBLE. If you write really, really ridiculously well, they will find you. They will seek you out, track you down. They will not leave you alone until you are published. Mormon or not, you'll get that seven-figure advance. Guaranteed. Just write well.

Anonymous said...

J.K Rawling evidently has been holding secret internet chat sessions with Stephanie Meyer in regards to incorporating a new brand of Harry Potty and wand wielding Vampire story. This was leaked through Mrs. Meyers friend in the church who set up the computer for her. Jared Hess, (Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre), was said to part of the chat.

Anonymous said...

The entire publishing industry is overseen by a group of uber-agents known simply as "The Twelve." Members meet the at 12:12 am on the 12th of each month between the 12th and 13th bookshelves of literaticat's San Fransisco bookstore. Although the details are shrouded in mystery, this much is known: meetings are called to order by Nathan Bransford, who, while politely and personally rejecting 2,112 e-queries, leads the group in a rousing rendition of Kumbaya. This is followed by the ceremonial swig of gin from Janet Reid's stiletto boot. The culmination of the evening is the most feared and highly anticipated: the burning of the slush.

Wannabe authors and editors alike huddle in the streets outside, clutching manuscripts and seven-figure contracts, eyes trained on a barely visible chimney atop the building. Thick black smoke signals rejection ... a sparkling white smoke that mysteriously produces no heat means *rejoice* a manuscript has been deemed worthy!

Anonymous said...

This was like the best game of Balderdash EVER, oh man.

christine tripp said...

>Celebrities need to write children's books because there just aren't any good ones out there.<

HAHA, Grier, you are SO right and thank G Madonna saved Peng Put from being one of those many publishers that print only pointless drivel by untalented unknowns:)

>When reading to her son, she "couldn't believe how vapid and vacant and empty all the stories were. There were like no lessons, just all about princesses and like the beautiful prince arrives and he takes her for his wife and nothing happens. Nobody asks her what her opinion is, or I didn't see anybody struggling for things. There's like no books about anything." The first of five books, all to be published by Penguin, is titled The English Roses and will be released in September.<

Danette Haworth said...

Everyone knows that only monkeys peck out bestsellers.

catdownunder said...

Miaou! All you humans still seem to believe that books are written by real people (and that they were rejected 26 times after mandatory attendance at BYU).
I did a little research and, by chance, a stray cat hair led me to a portal which was labelled, "Bookbase". The demon on duty refused me entry. The human behind me tried to argue but ended up in such a mess I had to do a brisk licking on them as well as myself.
I am bothered by "Bookbase". Is this where books are made - or is that a myth too?

Karen Schwabach said...

Christine-- wow. Madonna really said that?

Now I'm all mad and stuff.

christine tripp said...

Karen, don't be like mad, k? cause I am sure she only talks that way during interviews ya know and like she doesn't write like that eh (oops, that was Canadian, not Valley girl:)

Jane said...

Agents and Publishers STEAL your stuff all the time. The only way to prevent this is to put COPYWRIGHT in big letters after every page.

There is also a conspiracy against all new writers. Each month publishers and literary agents hold a meeting where they hold up their hands and pledge to not publish anyone who hasn't been published before.

Julie Wright said...
This comment has been removed by the author.