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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Katharyn Stockett needs HELP

Kathryn Stockett, author of the best-selling book The Help says things were SO HARD for her as a writer. The Help was only rejected only 60 times before Penguin picked it up.

Wow. Only sixty rejections? On a first novel before getting offered a book contract? That’s hardship?


Sixty rejections is a warm-up for me. For most newbie writers who are submitting a first book, sixty rejections is just a start.

If she got two rejections that would be something to tell a story about. But Sixty? On fiction? The hardest books to sell in trade publishing?

Come on.

For everyone else the query process for books is BRUTAL and even the most experienced writers with a series of writing credits and an MFA send over a hundred or more query letters to literary agents and editors at trade publishing houses before anyone requests sample chapters or if they’re lucky a manuscript.

My first book The Changing Soul in 2000 got no takers after 100 requests. It only got two requests for partials.

I couldn’t get a publishing professional to read my second book, Isis in 2001.

My third book, The Cassandra Cookbook got rejected 400 times from 2004-2005. And that’s after over 25-30 submissions of partials and one request for the whole manuscript.

And my fourth book, The Temptation of John Haynes was rejected by over 500 publishing professionals in 2006.

I won’t even write about the shellacking All About Marilyn got when I submitted that for queries. That was painful.

Seriously, it’s easier to win the lottery than get a book contract with a trade publisher. And it’s even easier to get hit by lightning than get a book contract on a first novel. Most-first time authors can’t get fiction read by an agent let alone an editor at a publishing house. Most publishing pros don’t want to take a risk on a first-time author, especially if they’re writing fiction. They’re untested. Unproven. They don’t have an audience or a platform. It’s a huge risk for a trade house to risk money on an advance and a print run on a first-timer.

And nine times out of ten times they lose on the bet. Million dollar advances on the books of a dozen or so first-time writers whose books tanked are part of what caused the collapse of the publishing industry in 2008.

But Kathryn Stockett thinks it’s so hard to get a book published after sixty rejections. On a first novel. In the aftermath of the collapse of the publishing industry.

Someone give this woman a CLUE.

I really think the author of The Help really takes for granted the opportunities she was blessed with. Five books and seventeen years since I hung up my shingle as a professional writer, I still don’t have a contract at a major publishing house. I don’t have a best-seller with the New York Times. I don’t have a movie deal. I’m still free-lancing and self-publishing building my audience on the underground circuit.

And all Kathryn Stockett got was a book and a movie deal on a first novel after only sixty rejections.

I find it ironic how Kathryn Stockett wanted to write a story about black maids and the relationships they had with the white children they raised in the 1960’s but doesn’t understand how out of touch she is with how she relates to life in the rest of the world today.

But that’s White People.

If only some of those black people she interacted with while writing The Help had the courage to tell her about all the advantages of White Privilege she benefited from perhaps she could become enlightened enough write something a bit more thought provoking.

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