Sunday, October 23, 2011

Everyone likes a good mystery

Most authors, at least the ones on the wrong end of the slushpile, often feel like the publishing industry is a vast mystery. They stand at one end, clutching their manuscripts and hoping against hope that an editor will fish them out of the slushpile only to declare, "Eureka! I love this book!"

On the other end are the editors, agents, and publishing professionals who stand at the door of the publishing arena. Except for the self-published writers, they act as gatekeepers, and they're a tough bunch to get past. They have to be. Their own livings ride on their abilities to choose literary winners. For them it's about the bottom line, the connection of art to money. Not an easy spot to be in.

If you are one of the few who has made it for the first time into the hallowed halls of publication (meaning that an editor has verified your existence by making you an offer), you may have responded with all the confidence of a deer in the headlights of a Mack truck intent on making venison sausage. What on earth do you do now?

Aaron Shepard's invaluable pink book The Business of Writing for Children brings the formerly unpublished writer up to speed in less than 100 pages. It covers everything from how to submit to what you should look for in your contract to what you can expect in the publishing process. After taking a zip through it, I highly recommend it. Why?

Because although everyone likes a good mystery, your path to publication shouldn't be one.

Source of review copy: Gail Borden Public Library

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