Facetiously Answered Questions
The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt is an example of a novel used in business school Operations Management classes. I’d argue that the works of Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged heavily lean towards practical fiction.
After Us: An Intimacy Innovation was finished (or so I thought) I turned my attention to getting it published. Boy (or girl, as appropriate) was I naive. Between the writer and the reader are so many layers.
The first layer is an agent. In order to get to one of the major publishers you need a literary agent. To get a literary agent interested a writer has to email them what is termed a ‘query’. A query is essentially three paragraphs: 1) Hi, 2) Here’s what my book is about, 3) Here’s my background. Apparently literary agents get hundreds of these a day so one can imagine how much time is spent on any one email. If you’ve read Us: An Intimacy Innovation, you know it doesn’t follow a lot of norms and consequently is hard to describe. As the rejections piled in, I changed its query. To no avail. Sixty-plus times to no avail. But I put no fault on the literary agents. From what I can tell they have a tough job. And around rejection number fifty I wound up re-writing the novel, slanting it more towards the practical side of fiction.
Assuming an agent gets interested, the next layer is the agency editor round. Here an inhouse editor works with the writer to ‘polish’ the novel to get it ready for its presentation to publishing companies.
Once the literary agency deems the work fit, he or she sends it to various editors at the publishing companies. These are essentially ‘buyers’ for the houses. The editors take the works they like and champion them for approval from the publisher’s purchasing committee.
Assuming the novel is requested by a publisher and contract terms are mutually acceptable, then the book goes through another round of editting, cover design takes place, it gets a title (oh you thought the author got to name his/her own work didn’t you?), production schedules are created, and the sales force goes into action.
Then the retailers’ buyers enter the picture. After they are convinced, the books arrive on the shelves, and the (potential) reader finally has the opportunity to be introduced to the masterful creation. It’s quite a production, takes a lot of time, seems hopelessly inefficient, introduces significant costs, and reminds me of the old adage: ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’. Or maybe, ‘a camel is a horse designed by a committee’. But it must work, books keep getting published.
Or the author can go with Plan B … self-publish.
One of the few aphorisms I retained from marketing class was “you can cut out the middle man, but you can’t cut out what he does.” The writer always has the option to bypass the above, keep control, and cut out all the hands tugging at his work. [And sometimes it his only option – I did mention something about sixty plus turndowns.] The author can get (and pay for) a turnkey operation, often referred to as ‘vanity publishing’ or hire others to do the individual tasks such as editing, cover design, ebook composition, printing, and distribution paying for them on an ala carte basis. An author really has to have faith in their book to go the self-publishing route. A tip of the hat to them. But it must work, a lot of books are self-published.
If you have a question you’d like answered, submit it using the form below. Your name and location are optional, but if provided will accompany the question. I won’t promise to answer every question, but you can ask. For example, I’d hesitate to discuss plot spoilers and, even in real life, I have trouble with ‘why did you …’ type questions. Usually the questioner is seeking the one, true, specific reason for something but in actuality there are multiple, often conflicting, factors that are taken into consideration.