Showing posts with label publishing myths contest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label publishing myths contest. Show all posts

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Publishing Myths: Cover Photos and Pornography

We had some fantastic contenders in the contest, but in the end, one in particular stood out for its exemplary combination of absurdity and near plausibility. Its straight-faced reporting put it over the top.

The Mormon Mafia myth is a great one. Thanks again to the original questioner for the terrific start to our contest, and for all those who helped to bolster that particular myth in the comments. I see a bright (or should I say murky?) future for this urban legend. In fact, the number of Mormons who found their way here to comment could be taken as further proof that Mormons are overrunning children's publishing. But shh. That's a myth.

Winner for best myth:
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.

Honorable Mention:
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.

Thanks to Matt and Kurtis, and to everyone for playing!

Publishing Myths: General Guidelines and Good Advice

Winner for best cloud-sourced myth(s):

It don't mater how bad you're speling or grammer is, or how illegibly formatted your submission. As long as you have an idea that's the new Harry Potter or DaVinci Code, publishers will send your book to a ghost writer to be written, slap a celebrity's name on it as "author", and give you all the money. Or none of the money.

Alternatively: it doesn't matter how unsalable your idea is if your writing is limpidly beautiful and lyrically whatever. It's only about Art. Who cares how many books we can sell?

Alternatively again: it doesn't matter how beautiful your writing is, because it's only about money. Publishers are actively rejecting most slush manuscripts as "too good" and only publishing cliche-ridden drivel because that's the only thing that sells.

Only the young and vivacious get published. Publishing isn't just a popularity contest in terms of your manuscript, we're also looking ahead to the interviews you'll have to do in a bikini. So wax now.

You must get rejected 26 times. L'Engle, Seuss, Grisham, Karen Jay Fowler... all the best writers have been rejected exactly 26 times. (No doubt this number is because of some secret cabal in publishing.) If you get a 27th rejection, though, it means you're crap.

Once you are published, it's easy-peasy to get all your friends, family members, and crit group partners published, too. Once you're in the secret club, you can recommend up to 26 new members per month. (No, of course your editor won't mind the influx of recommended manuscripts--she's doesn't have to read them, just put them on the secret order's altar and read the secret fortunetelling bones over them.)

Moreover, this is really the only way to be published, since publishing houses go to any lengths to avoid reading submissions. This includes giving false addresses (ha, Candlewick is located in "Boston"! Honestly, who would fall for that?) and simply moving away from old buildings once they become heavily impacted with piles of slush.

Finally, if you earn out your advance and make your publisher glad they worked with you, you clearly didn't get paid enough. Fire your agent, so that at least someone will have learned their lesson.

Thanks to Sam, Chris, Merry, Tricia, Literaticat, Carol, Michael, Vonna, Hope, and A.L.!

P.S.: Anonymous, the secret society of bloggers (led by Nathan Bransford and Literaticat) is factual. This was a MYTHS contest.

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:

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.