Monday, April 25, 2005

Walking A Tight Rope

Many years ago (almost thirty), I spent a summer internship on a local newspaper and covered the circus. It was a heritage of the town and I wrote most of the articles and material for the special circus edition in the newspaper.  Each summer, the circus had eight shows with children from the town doing most of the acts.  For the most part, the adults participated as clowns. One regular act in the circus was the high wire act. One young man walked the tight rope with a balancing pole—on stilts. The audience loved to watch this popular and daring feat.

Last week at the writer’s conference, I walked a tight rope of sorts. It’s the constant dance that I do as an editor. I want to be encouraging to writers. It’s easy for me to recall my start in this business and how much I’ve learned (and continue to learn) in the journey.  Some of the writing life is a careful balance between craft (which can be learned) and art (which you have to bring naturally). I’ve learned not to make hard and fast judgments about other people’s writing and work. I’m constantly surprised at books which make a splash in the market and others (where I have high expectations) which do very little. There are many factors in the success or failure of a particular book or author.

Imagine for a moment, how it feels to see someone’s work which has miles to go before anyone will publish it. It happened repeatedly to me last week—and at other conferences. I see a parade of people who have hopes and dreams about their writing and their stories yet they are brand new to the world of publishing. It’s always a careful tight rope to say something kind and encouraging yet honest.  Because I don’t want to give people false hope yet I don’t want to dash their dreams. All I can do is look at the work and honestly evaluate whether it is something that I want to champion within my publishing house or not. It’s what I tried to do when I was meeting face to face with authors or what I do when I interact with them via email or the regular mail.

I’ve poured a lot of energy and effort during this past year into a book called Book Proposals That Sell, 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success. Originally I published this book as an ebook then for Write Now Publications, I expanded the contents, made it timeless and also gathered endorsements for it. If you want the book instantly, you can receive the text via my ebook. The trade paperback version released this month. You can either get it from my website or through Amazon.com or through your local bookstore. The book has a unique perspective from any other how-to write book on this topic because I try and help writers walk inside the head of an acquisitions editor.  As a writer, have you answered all of the questions that I need to champion your work to the publishing board and gain permission to issue a book contract? Also I’ve included a couple of excerpts so you can have a taste of the book. If you have an ezine or some other newsletter, I’d love for you to use these excerpts.

It’s not easy for any of us in this business to walk the tight rope between blunt honesty and being encouraging to writers. We need to watch our steps.

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