Guest Post: letters from a publishing professional

Truisms about publishing fiction, aspiring writer editon.

1. Your book isn’t as good as you think it is.
2. No, really, it’s not. Trust me on this.
3. Fortunately, that doesn’t matter.
4. No one owes you a publishing contract, even if your book really is brilliant.
5. Worse books than yours will get published, perhaps even become bestsellers.
6. This is because the definition of “good” vis-a-vis fiction is variable across the millions of readers who could potentially buy your book. Despite what you may think, your opinion is neither universal nor definitive.
7. Unfair? Of course it’s unfair. What universe do you think you live in?
8. If you must whine, do yourself a favor and whine in private. I understand that you, as a writer, really want to express yourself in public, but trust me, it’s better to do that with your fiction.
9. Really.
10. Yes, really.
11. The job description of “newly published author” includes “plays well with others” and “can read and follow directions.” If you evidence lack of either of those skills on your resume, you won’t get the job interview, much less the job.

Truisms about publishing fiction, agent edition.

1. Aspiring authors are not all part of a cabal to drive you crazy.
2. They’re independently trying to drive you crazy.
3. Okay, they’re not trying to drive you crazy on purpose.
4. Sturgeon’s Law applies. I.e., “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”
5. Fractally and recursively.
6. “Book you love” doesn’t necessarily equal “Book you can sell,” but don’t let that stop you from trying. Usually you’ll be right, but you can’t know which times will be which.
7. You can represent books you don’t love, but you won’t enjoy your job that way. If you find yourself doing this too often, apply to the marketing department at a publishing house. You’ll at least get better pay and health benefits.
8. You don’t owe aspiring authors anything more than a couple of minutes of your time.

Truisms about publishing fiction, junior editor edition.

1. You will never find a book you really love.
2. Except when your company has temporarily suspended acquisitions.
3. The marketing department doesn’t actually hate all the books you love and love all the books you hate. It just feels that way today.
4. Don’t lament your tiny acquisitions budget. Think of it as the opportunity to buy an overlooked treasure for a song. When those senior editors win an auction, it just means their peers don’t think the book is worth that much.
5. Yes, you are underpaid. I recommend trying to marry the head of Marketing.

Thanks to Barbarienne for this post! You can find her here:

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen’s first erotic novel, The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover (Harlequin Spice, December 2008), was translated into French and German. Her second Spice novel, The Moonlight Mistress (December 2009), was translated into Italian and nominated for a RT Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her third novel is The Duke & The Pirate Queen (December 2010). She has also published erotic short stories as Elspeth Potter. Her blog features professional writing and marketing tips, genre discussion, book reviews, and occasional author interviews.
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