Realities of Being Published: Lesson One
"Yes, it's your name on the cover. No, it's not just your book."
I'm not sure how many installments will eventually be in this series, but I often have moments or business decisions crop up that leave me thinking When I dreamed about being a novelist, I didn't imagine this.
I'm willing to bet all of you are smarter about being published than I was at your age. Because, well, if you know anything about being published and you're 19 or younger, you know more than I did. In high school, here is what I thought my life as a published writer would look like:
- I would have a story idea.
- I would write this story.
- I would send it to my editor.
- She would love it. (My future editor was always a woman. Not sure why.)
- My publishing house would send me a check. (Or maybe I would stop by and pick it up, since I, of course, lived in New York City.)
- I would have another story idea.
- I would write this story.
- And so forth.
In a word - no. Yes, all these steps do take place. No, it's not quite that simple.
Because sometimes you have an idea, and your editor will say something like, "Hmm. I don't know about that. You know what I'd really like to see? Is a story about such-and-such."
Or sometimes - my agent and I were recently laughing about this - you pitch something to a house and they respond with enthusiasm. "That's great!" they may say. "I love it. But what do you think about moving it to US soil? And could you make the main character a Latin American? Oh, and instead of setting it in contemporary times, what do you think about the 1800s?"
And because you like your job and you think your editor (and agent) are smart, valuable people, you say, "Yes, I can do that."
This isn't always the case, of course. The Skylar books were 100% my ideas and my editors didn't touch the plot, setting, theme, any of it. But other manuscripts I've worked on since then have been a collaboration of my ideas, my agents ideas, and my editors ideas. Being a working writer requires flexibility and an ability to set aside your ego for the sake of the story.
Writers who imagine they're the only ones who understand what will sell or what people like to read do themselves a real disservice. Agents and editors read tons and tons and tons (and tons) of manuscripts. Their opinions are valuable. They should be listened to.
Like any area in life, you have to pick your battles and be willing to compromise.
I can think of no cute segue into the list of the Top 21 from the last writing prompt contest. So. I'll forgo a segue and just say, here is the list of those who made the Top 21. Yes, there are normally just 20. This time there are 21. Sometimes an extra one simply must be allowed in. Or so my judges tell me. And the judges are wise and gracious - I just nod in agreement.
In no particular order, the Top 21 are:
Jenna Blake Morris
Have a great weekend everyone!