Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bleeding All Over the “Book of My Heart”

by Raelene Gorlinsky

A piece of advice for authors and aspiring authors: When you submit that wonderful manuscript, or if you get the fantastic news that it has been accepted, DO NOT tell us that it is the *book of your heart*. Red flags go up, and the editor is likely to run screaming from the room.

Why? Here are the hard facts, without heartstrings. Think about this. The publisher is mainly interested in whether enough people will buy this book that it will make a nice profit. The publisher doesn’t need to care why the author wrote the book, how meaningful it is to her, or even what the author thinks about her own work. It is what potential readers/buyers will think that counts.

So when an author indicates an overly emotional attachment to a particular story they’ve written, it is a signal of possible rocks in the road to publication:

(1) The more attached you are to your story, the more likely you are to object to revisions and editing. All stories are improved by editing. Your editor is the best judge of what makes a story appealing to readers—the author often does not have the detached perspective necessary. And no editor wants to knowingly entangle themselves with a resistant and uncooperative author who whines about how the editor is destroying her dream, altering her voice, stabbing her in the heart—nope, we’re just trying to help you turn this draft manuscript into something that more than just your mother or best friend would pay to read.

(2) You, the author, are likely to have an inflated opinion of your special story’s value and marketability. You are going to be devastated by any less than glowing reviews, and disappointed by any sales numbers lower than a gazillion. That will make you unhappy, when in fact the publisher may well find the sales perfectly decent.

The book of your heart just may not touch sufficient other hearts. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. It’s YOUR book, and you can still enjoy it and be glad you wrote it. But face that it may lack enough appeal in the general market to garner sales.

I know it is hard, but authors need to remember that this is a BUSINESS, and sales are the driving factor. If you feel that emotional about this special heart book, then consider getting it self-published and giving it to all your friends and family. They likely will appreciate it; there just aren’t enough of them to convince a publisher to appreciate it.

Impress us with your businesslike professional attitude, rather than worry us by your emotionalism.

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