Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Getting Published is a Matter of ...

I recently read in The New York Times Rachel Donadio’s essay on how Elie Wiesel’s NIGHT, a Holocaust memoir, was rejected by 15 publishers, ignored by readers and went on to sell 10 million copies. It was recently taken off the NYTimes best seller list after Oprah Winfrey picked it for her book club last January. During that time, it sold 3 million additional copies and stayed on the NYTimes list for 80 weeks.

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL by Jack Canfield was rejected by 140 publishers because no one in the business could figure out how to classify it among all the different genres already taking up space in bookstores all over America. The book has sold over 112 million copies worldwide and it has spawned over 170 titles in 41 languages.

What both books did was create new genres. And whenever something new comes along it takes a while for it to be accepted and embraced as another icon in our culture.

I believe it is the same with writing. Established authors try to recreate themselves all the time. Dean Koontz did it in THE GOOD GUY, where he “…did not use traditional methods of character revelation, no back stories in narration or in dialogue until late in the text. All the characters have secrets.”

Michael Crichton veered away from the traditional novel in NEXT, where he compiles a series of different scenes thinly related by his overall theme emphasizing the dangers of gene therapy and genome mapping.

Both books explored new areas of storytelling moving away from the traditional plane.

The moral of this post is to take these stories to heart and never give up on your writing - persist.

It’s a matter of persistence – finding the right agent or publisher who believes in your work and will expose it to the publishing world with the same enthusiasm and passion that you have for your work.

It’s a matter of timing – eventually readers will get tired of seeing the same genre of books on the best selling lists and migrate to other genres. If your book is in the newly accepted genre, it will have a better chance of selling. (However, don’t write a book because you think a particular genre is hot at the time. Just write no matter what genre.)

The right stuff - Lastly, your writing must be engaging, your story interesting and the mechanics of your book flawless. Your work must have the right stuff of good storytelling and a purpose whether to entertain, inform or take up a cause.

No comments: