Friday, February 02, 2007

A Writer's Perfect World

Here’s a scenario of a perfect world in the life of a writer.

Writer gets an idea for a novel.
Writer writes novel.
Writer sends off novel to acquisition editor without using an agent. Writer receives letter from acquisition editor within weeks.
Writer receives large advance check with letter.
Writer receives contract along with check.
Writer is told book will be published within next six to eight months.
Writer is overjoyed.
Writer wakes up from dream, shakes her head, and heads to computer to query novel once more.


One of my most favorite comic strips is "For Better or Worse." I’ve followed the Patterson family this strip depicts since the adult children were toddlers. The son, Michael, is now a married man and works for a large magazine as an editor. But, he has had the book of his heart itching to get out. About a month ago he finished the book, only to have the apartment house where they lived catch on fire. He saved his laptop and by the skin of his teeth and got out of the burning house before he lost his hard drive. Now a month later, he receives a letter from a publisher he apparently sent the manuscript to. The publisher wants to buy his book and enclosed with the letter is an advance and a contract. The sale comes at a time when they’ve lost almost everything in the fire.

I am not here to run down the storyline because that’s exactly what it is—a story. It’s a HEA (happily ever after) story. One that makes the reader feel good. And that’s often why we read stories. Because we want to feel good!

But, being an aspiring novelist who would love to receive such a letter, I can tell you that in the real world it doesn’t happen this way. Oh, you’ll hear of an exception here and there,but 99 percent of the time it’s not that easy. Not by a long shot. Most publishers require your work to be presented by an agent. Even then, you wouldn’t send your full manuscript in out of the chute. First comes the proposal. Then you wait and wait. Then they ask for the full. Then you wait and wait and wait. Then, if they want to buy it, you’re notified through your agent. Then your agent brokers the deal. Then you get the contract. Then you wait and wait. Because after line edits, etc. it takes months and sometimes more than a year before you see your book published.

Because I know what it’s like to dream about writing a story and having someone like it well enough to buy it, I find myself rejoicing with Michael. Yeah, I know he’s a character in a comic strip, but I’ve “known” the guy since he was a toddler.

God has given me the desire and ability to write, and if it’s in His will that my dream of publication will be fulfilled it will happen. Not in the way of comic strip storylines, but in His way. That’s the perfect way.

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