Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Don't Give Up and Sell Out

Publishing is a tough business. There is simply no easy way to say this. People often get frustrated when I tell them the odds of winning a lottery are better than the odds of getting published. This is really a business you have to love. With that said, there is a lot to be said about those people that don't give up.

Now before you all go and think Scott has gone nice-nice here and lost his edge, let me preface this post by saying "just sticking around will not get you published." Sorry to say it people, but despite the impression some writers give to those unpublished writers, it isn't a matter of just continually submitting manuscripts and something will stick. There is a lot to be said about determination, but you have to learn as you go.

I want to talk about two things today. The first is that "stick around" factor and the second is "selling out."

As I said, this is a business that takes time. It may be your 8th novel that finally sells, but it can be done. It is the patience it will take to get you there as well as the learning that takes place. Each manuscript you write should be an improvement from the last. The characters are stronger, the plot is richer, the voice is more your own - the list is endless. Still, you should be improving. Unfortunately, there are many of you out there that seem to believe it is just a waiting game. "Some day my prince will come and some day, an editor will call me." Yeah... I don't think so. This is a proactive activity and it is up to you to improve that craft.

With that said, let's move to the second, and, I believe the more important point. Can you be published today? Yes. Along the way to your goal of being published, there are a ton of places that will offer you a chance to be published; and, I am sorry to say, many writers out there "sell out" and take those options. I am not going to get into a discussion of good and bad publishers. I am not going to get into a discussion about the type of publisher. I am just talking about the idea of selling out. Taking these options is not a "stepping stone" to something bigger. These are time sucks and, in some cases money sucks.

You will now be spending your time working for something that isn't your dream. You will think the money you are promised to make is wll worth it. But what about that goal you had of being a single title author? Where did that go?

I don't care how much you "justify" these companies and the decisions you made, you are selling out. You had a dream to write professionally and you blew it.

If you wnat to know the type of writer I want at Greyhaus, I am looking for those people who know their goal and are willing to go for it. We might not sell your first book. It may be book 8, but we will get there. I don't want to hear someone, half way through the process call me and say, "you know, I could always send my book here, just to have it published." That is selling out and that is something I am not going to do.



  1. I once heard an editor say, "You're only as good as your last book." While it would be nice to say that you've got a body of work to fall back on, the truth is that any author has to get better with each book. Or, at the very least, keep the same level of quality.

    Learning about writing is a little like learning about life. Every day brings a new discovery.

    I think that getting published shouldn't be the goal. It should be starting a publishing career, gathering a readership. The old axiom of: this is not a sprint; it's a marathon.

  2. What struck me most about this post that you, as the agent, would be willing to hang in there and keep moving with a new project. It's nice to know you're taking on authors you believe in - and not JUST a manuscript.

  3. I enjoyed what you said. Glad I found your blog:)