Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Just Saying "No"

At this point, after the fourth rejection of my "Interviews with 11 St. Louis Writers" book manuscript, I could cultivate the familiar writerly psychological problems: "I did my best, it wasn't good enough," "Why try," and "I could have predicted this," & so forth. Against those I repeat 50 times: "Writing is an art, publishing is a business." But there's new spot in the Petri dish -- maybe because this is a new kind of manuscript for me -- and it communicates thus:

"You're so arrogant, thinking you can publish a book as-is and get a smidgen of glory. Get real. Remember you are a servant. You serve the publisher and readership. The publisher suggested you compile full bibliographies of all 11 authors. In certain cases, such as Gerald Early's or Don Finkel's, this would take years and you'd come out, as in grad school, with a face like a sneaker sole. But you should do it as a service. Learn to think not like an author, but like a servant."

To this I said (to myself): "That violates my boundary. I think it does. Yes. It does. I perform a service. But I am not a servant.

"H-ll no!"


  1. I don't know if you've tried them or not, but Southeast Missouri State University has a press that does non-fiction books.

    The editor, Susan Swartwout, is going to be at the October Saturday Writers workshop if you want to pitch to her. You can see her info at under events.

    Good luck with the book. It sounds interesting.

  2. Only four rejections? T'aint nothin'!

    The author Richard Burgin sat me down once and gave me a stern talking to about my own feelings of defeat, regarding being unable to publish my memoir after years of trying.

    "How many publishers actually read the thing?" he asked.

    "None," I said. "It didn't get that far."

    "So, you know your problem then is just the marketing angle. The book is probably fine. I wouldn't worry about having a bad book until it was fully read, and rejected, at least ten or fifteen times."

    It's all spin. They won't even read it unless it's spun their way. And maybe these publishers who demand full biographies are not the ones you want to be approaching.

    Publishing is most definitely a business.