A Guest Post By Quincy Allen
What was it Princess Irulan said? <strokes goatee thoughtfully>
Oh, yeah… “A beginning is a very delicate time.”
Granted, she was talking about galactic turmoil, spice, and the Kwisatz Haderach, but the point is a valid one across virtually all endeavors… including writing careers.
Very few writers are born. The rest must work fingers to the bone, day in and day out, paying bills with other gigs while trying to crack the code of the publishing industry—all in hopes that some gatekeeper will let us through the door.
I am, of course, referring to traditional publishing. Self/Indie publishing is another beast, but traditional publishing is not unlike trying to break into Clarke’s monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not even nukes work. It’s a tough, whimsical, very subjective sort of business. What gatekeepers think is hawt today is not what they thought was hawt yesterday. And “hawt” can be very different from one gatekeeper to the next.
So, what happens when you discover a crack in the armor? When one of the gatekeepers responds to a query letter with, “I love the concept… but I need you to make changes.”
This is not a moment for brash decisions.
One one hand, we’re talking about your hard labors, hour after hour, week after week, grinding away at a keyboard, taking a beating in writing groups, secluded like a friar in a monastery, crafting the perfect novel. In a business as subjective as the publishing industry, how does one know that the request from a gatekeeper is a valid or reasonable one?
On the other hand, we are talking business. Every writer is a manufacturer of goods. We produce a prototype from which a master die is cut. If we’re lucky, mass production ensues. That’s the whole point, right? Get our work in front of as many people as you can manage. It’s about sales.
Let me give you my take on this little conundrum. Make of it what you will.
I lean towards treating every word I write as business… in the classic Godfatheresque sense of the word. If you have someone on the hook who might be willing to open a door for you, then it’s probably in your best interest to make the compromises. Of course, you have to weigh how likely it is that they actually could open the door, and how far into the room they could get you once they did. All of that factors in. But getting through the door is critical.
And here’s the part that makes this decision easy. Ask yourself one question: “Is this the last thing I’m going to write?”
If you’re in this game for the long haul, if you plan on writing books till you die, then write off this first book as a marketing expense. Make the changes. Get it sold. Get your name out there. And when you’ve managed to get through the door, when you’re standing amidst other established authors, then you can stick to your guns on how you want something written.
Oh, and one last thing: KEEP YOUR ORIGINAL.
Regardless of how many changes and compromises you make at their behest, the gatekeeper in question might still say “I just didn’t’ fall in love with it.”
That’s life in the big city.
So be careful. Be thoughtful. Be compromising when it’s appropriate and resolute when it’s appropriate. For a beginning is a very delicate time.
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Also, for the bio, you can use "Learn more about this cross-genre author at www.quincyallen.com, and be sure to friend him up at https://www.facebook.com/Quincy.Allen.Author... he's lonely and doesn't have enough friends.Tags: Sequence 00: Guest Posts, Thursday's Thoughts