Monday, November 29, 2010

So You Want To Be An Author

Once again last week I was approached by someone who has written "the best picture book ever". Seems to happen with shocking frequency. This person was sure that they have a Caldecott winner on their hands if not at least an Amazon bestseller. If only they could get me to do some really cool illustrations, we'd be riding the cash wagon all the way to the bank. Even though it's the first book that they have ever attempted to write and that admittedly, the story isn't really finished yet and that they still need to work out the ending and... you get the picture.

The problem with this scenario is that most folks have no idea how the publishing industry works. They have no clue that 99 times out of 100, the publisher buys the manuscript from the author and then contracts with an illustrator. They have no idea that once sold, the author has very little input into what the illustrations end up looking like. They don't understand that a large portion of publishers will not accept non-agented submissions. That even agents accept only a tiny portion of all the manuscripts they see. At this point I usually dash their dreams of stardom and unbelievable wealth by suggesting that they do some homework and maybe join a writers group or go to a writing workshop. In short, Publishing is a tough game to play and the better you know the game, the better your odds of scoring. I am part of a writing group that is populated with many authors who are having great success currently in the YA fiction market and it's a treat to eavesdrop on the conversation threads. Enjoy this little instructive cartoon about the misconceptions of what it takes to be a writer. I laughed so hard I about fell out of my chair!

Thanks to Rock Canyon Writer's own Jennifer Nielsen for the video link


Brandi said...

ROTFL! Greg, thanks for the enlightenment! It's good to know what to do to become an author. I've actually thought about it before. I think I have some work to do before I get to that point though. I need to crack open some more of those BBC books! I loved the video clip by-the-way. Are people really that ignorant that they think they can make millions with NO experience even in reading? It just blows my mind that there is such ignorance out there.

Greg Newbold said...

Shocking, but true.

Will Strong said...

Oh man I have been propositioned to do people's books so many times. And I haven't even been at this very long.

One guy swore that he was doing me the biggest favor by letting me illustrate his book and that I was going to make huge money off the royalties (because he couldn't really pay me that much.) "Chance of a lifetime he called it." Yikes.

Now I just refer people to It's a fantastic site with all kinds of practical information on it about getting published.

Greg Newbold said...

You'll get the response down so you can do it in a nice way. I just have to laugh whenever someone who has no clue how the industry works promises you "huge royalties". Translation: Hey how'd you like to work for peanuts? I am sure there's a whole wad of cash at the bottom of that bowl somewhere. Just gotta keep digging!" I get these calls and emails about once a month, and I have yet to see one one of these projects make it to print.