The Curse in Disguise – Acceptance from a Publisher
by Alex Schumacher
I see you have found your way back to another installment of Bread Crumbs from the Void, creative mutants and anomalies of the human race. Why you continue to subject yourself to such tormenting and bamboozlement is beyond me, though I am truly thankful for the virtual company. No one wishes to drink or commiserate alone and I am no exception to such a rule. Ironically, I have been informed that I do not make for the best sympathetic ear when inebriated. To err is human and I tend to accomplish my fair share of erring.
Matching the weather outside which inspires goosebumps along the nether regions of my taint, this installment will find me moving along at a pace which is brisk. You would do well to keep in step lest you be left in the frigid and unforgiving literary tundra. Swaddle yourself in the pelts of those hapless god-damn souls who have fallen before you and refrain from distraction. I am poised to lead you across perilous and volatile terrain not yet traversed in the annals of Bread Crumbs from the Void. To lose focus for even a fraction of a second could spell certain doom. Or, y’know, shitty prose.
Across the narrow eviscerating ridges of honing your craft and over the treacherously soul-raping ranges of slush piles lies the possibility of publication. From afar the brass ring appears as a mirage, a gleaming ideal of cocktail parties and riches beyond your wildest — albeit fundamentally limited — imagination. A future of interview requests, extensive book tours, and throngs of adoring fans await. For, once a reputable publisher has discovered your particular parasitic brand of je ne sais quoi everything will be coming up Gatsby, right?
Think again, fuckwad.
In the event you are fortunate enough to con an editor into acquiring your dystopian S&M vampire novel that is simply the beginning. If you believed writing to be laborious or onerous prior to expropriating the coveted publishing deal, afterward you will wish for the sweet release of being drawn and quartered. Making a love connection with a publishing house is not a bullet train to celebrity. A pair of silicone tits and an Instagram account might be. In publishing chimerical entitlement will only lead to abject failure. To further add to your woeful lack of acumen on the subject, here are a few things to bear in mind once a publisher says, “yes.”
First and foremost, for your edification I believe it is integral to convey an approximation of a timeline. Put simply, the procedure will be interminable. Gradually and rather painfully your composition will make its way through your creative birthing canal, shake itself free of excess exposition placenta, and be bathed by the manuscript OBGYN (the editor). Regardless of your skill level or proficiency this process will take one hell of a long time. Best case scenario, from the moment a publisher gives you the green light to the point when your coma-inducing tome may see the light of day will roughly be eighteen months to two years.
It is important to note at this juncture that the aforementioned allotment refers only to schedules completely devoid of hiccups, glitches, and unforeseeable impediments. Some factors which can contribute to the crippling of your individual process with the publisher are outside of your circle of influence. Said variables may include, but are not limited to, financing woes, marketing snafus, and unfortunate halts in production. Far more commonly the ingredients that lead to delays, and/or outright failures, can be attributed to an author’s lack of professionalism or work ethic.
Two years sounds boundless, but in actuality you will need to maintain a breakneck momentum throughout. Procrastination, a languorous approach, or launching into an emotional meltdown whenever the editor critiques your placement of a fucking comma will only serve to further hinder your deranged love child’s release. Be prepared for the editor to disembowel your baby. This is their function. This is their job. The reputable ones will take your disfigured abomination and conduct the plastic surgery necessary to make the motherfucker ready for the ball. If you are squeamish about such intrusions on your work, relegate yourself to the cesspool of self-publishing now.
Once the genital warts, abscesses, and dead skin have been removed the next step is marketing and promotion. Partnering with a venerable publishing house is a boon to be certain, though the vast majority of the promotion will fall largely on you. What did you expect, cupcake? Your publisher will court hundreds, if not thousands, of scribes far more successful and talented than you will ever be. These are the creators to whom they will allocate the lion’s share of resources. Unless you are J.K. Rowling, be prepared to commission your own cheerleading squad.
Depending on the amount of disposable income you have earned from years on a paper route or selling dime bags, you can secure yourself a fairly decent promotional package. Prices range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands based on the campaign length and level of immersion. Refrain from being fooled by scam artists seeking to prey on the uninformed and naïve willing to sacrifice their virgin corn-hole for the euphoria of being showered in praise and affection. Just as with a publisher, market research is integral to locate not only a renowned promotional agency, but one which is not looking to fist you and abscond with your hard-earned shekels. Trustworthy organizations should have no issues with providing consultations to answer any burning inquires you may have.
That said, hiring a marketing firm merely ensures publicizing and advertising commensurate with the amount of cabbage you immolate. Beyond the services delivered based upon such a sliding scale, the organization running your game will not give two greasy shits how many units were actually peddled.
Circling back to a previous point of utmost significance, you should not expect a home run your first time at bat. Seeking best seller status is a futile and unimaginative pursuit fraught with heartache and disillusionment. Cautious optimism is one thing, but the expectation of having your first penned disasterpiece shatter Amazon sales records is merely an ignorant wet dream. The jagged little pill you may not find easy to digest is that you should consider yourself amongst the lucky if you manage to sell a few thousand copies. Otherwise, you can always stick with your Bret Easton Ellis fan fiction.
I maintain that you will, and must, always be your own greatest champion. You cannot count on anyone else to manage your time or motivate you to be productive. Not an editor. Not a talent representative. This profession is the equivalent of being assigned homework for the remainder of your natural-born, godforsaken existence. You better be entirely sure this is the road paved with broken glass that you wish to travel, because the legitimate uphill battle begins when someone decides to take a chance on you.
As always, if you would like to hear me elaborate a bit more on my own process, you can find links to a couple of interviews conducted recently with me on my website at: https://alexschumacherart.com/about/. Drop me a line from the contact page if you have any other questions, complaints, insults, or declarations of lust.
Bread Crumbs from the Void will return in two weeks with another thrilling edition of hard-nosed reality for you big-talkers and wannabes. Until next time, keep scribbling you freaks.
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