I’ve been taking the time recently to try and get this new podcast (which I spoke about here) in order before launching it into the world, ready to deliver you some aural pleasure.
In between these recording and editing sessions however, I’ve been making my way through a book, simply titled, ‘Getting Published’, in the vain, naive hope of finding a treasure trove of hitherto unknown information that would transform me from hopelessly lost, to an expert navigator, detailing all I needed to know in order to traverse the choppy waters of literary representation and publishing.
Purchased at the same time as I bought the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2016, another hopeful attempt at taking a semblance of control over my writing career ambitions, it’s somewhat fitting that the book was written by somebody who actually runs The Writer’s Workshop which, for long time readers of this blog, is the place I actually sent my manuscript in for some editing assistance.
Having read about a third of the book so far, I’ve been left with a pretty indelible feeling as Harry Bingham charts out the processes I can look forward to. From polishing the manuscript to seeking literary agents, compiling an attractive synopsis/cover letter to dealing with publishers, this book has already covered quite a bit of ground and, as much food for thought it genuinely provides as I read through and ponder upon it, it does leave me with one prevalent concern: just how in the hell am I, so insignificant and unconnected as I am, going to do this?!
The process is presented in a frank and honest way which is as refreshing as it is worrying. It doesn’t sugar coat the difficulty that the business will present to most people, though some of the statistics that are provided are depressingly alarming.
Gunning to be accepted into that tiny 8-10 percentile of authors that make it through the gatekeepers, the agents, the publishers, and having survived that marathon into the bookstores is an incredibly daunting process.
What’s the alternative? Stop writing? Stop trying? Give up on your dreams and goals?
After all, as a certain Homer J. Simpson put it:
Sometimes it’s tempting.
It would be easy to allow yourself the convenience of becoming comfortable in whatever job you’re holding down whilst pursuing what you really want to do, to allow what was always meant to be a short stop gap become the career you never wanted, or, perhaps, even try and convince yourself that this is what God and the Universe intend for you.
It would be easy, but it wouldn’t be satisfying. I, for one, wouldn’t be able to live my life knowing I never, truly, tried.
I don’t want to be on my death bed having such obvious regrets.
The book has left me feeling a little deflated about the whole process. It’s not too dissimilar to film, or radio, or any other overly saturated industry, really: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
Real talent can, and has, been overlooked on countless occasions over the years (hundreds, I’m sure) in the pursuit of hooking up those who have connections, as opposed to those with a great idea, but no ability to get their foot into the door of their chosen field.
Still, of this tiny portion, these chosen few, a few of them can’t have had any prior connections – and I’m hoping that I can be one of them.
I am not rich. I do not make a lot of money. I do not want to write to be famous. I simply want a shot, an opportunity, that would allow me to spend my time on this planet making a living, having a career, doing something I enjoy that I’m confident could entertain quite a few people along the way.
It’s not an easy road, but, for me, it’s one worth going down. Besides, the easy road leads to giving up, it leads to accepting a life of piddling mediocrity and ultimate disappointment in ones self.
Reading this book so far has made me feel as though getting a literary agent and breaking into the literary world is akin to getting into the mafia: once you’re in, you’re in.
But getting in? Therein lies the difficulty.
So how in the hell am I going to accomplish this?
I guess the answer is: with difficulty.