Tales of Terror: Part One
To celebrate the coming of Halloween I want to share horrific tales I (or others) have experienced in the publishing industry. Here I will share tales about agents that will make you cringe, stories about authors that will make you shiver, and anecdotes about publishers that will make you run away in horror.
Okay they may not do that, but I hope you find them interesting.
Tale of the Giant Brain
I honestly didn’t believe this person existed. I thought this creature was a product of the industry’s imagination. I’d read about them in books and magazines or heard them whispered about from industry professionals, but I had yet to meet one. And then my day arrived. It was a pleasant afternoon one summer day when I met an aspiring author who wanted to know how to break into publishing.
I love sharing knowledge, but I didn’t know one minor thing. I was talking to an aspiring author who already knew everything. When I asked the author what he had written it took him nearly ten minutes (ten minutes that feel like years). I kindly suggested that he try to whittle his description down because editors and agents won’t listen that long. This aspiring author–turned expert of the industry–then told me that his idea was too brilliant and complicated for a short explanation. He added that a truly clever editor or agent would know that.
Slowly in front of my eyes I saw his head expanding. Ohhh nooo…. I’d met The Giant Brain. I knew I was in trouble then, but couldn’t escape. He then ranted about how unfair the industry was to him, railed against the injustices that trash like mine (he didn’t say that, but it was implied) crowded the shelves, while his work languished unknown. He’d done everything right (done his research and submitted his pristine manuscript to the right markets) and yet still received rejections for his 500,000 word manuscript that he refused to revise although some editors had suggested he do so. When I–foolishly–suggested that the editors may be on to something, he reminded me of my ignorance: Agents and editors are basically idiots and have always let manuscripts slip through their fingers. As proof he listed all the books that had been rejected that were finally published and successful. I thought it wise not to argue with him.
I finally did escape and have not met this person again. But I know I will in another form or another and there is a lesson to be learned from this.
No one cares that you’ve written a book (unless you’re a celebrity or a TV personality or know one of those people). Really. You have to make them care.
Second, when someone offers some advice try to pretend to listen even if you don’t plan to follow it. Editors and agents don’t have to send you personal rejections, but when they take the time to say something about your manuscript, take the time to at least digest it and then discard it if you must.
It’s been a few years and this man hasn’t been published yet. I doubt he ever will because his ego will always stand in the way.
Have you ever met a Giant Brain? What did you do?