A Gent's Outlook

A Literary Agent Divulges the TRUTH about Publishing

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Positively Negative

I sometimes get letters from people who can’t understand why I am so negative all the time.

“What do you have to be so negative about?” they ask.

Well, here is the answer to that: I am not always negative. Sometimes I am positive. Very positive. Like right now. Right now, I am positive that the Daniel Edwards sculpture that is supposed to look like Brittney Spears giving birth on a bearskin rug looks just like Charlize Theron massaging the temples of a polar bear naked. I am also positive that I would have liked to have seen the other end of the piece (no pun intended, I mean it in a totally artistic way). Or would I? I wonder if the baby’s face on the other end resembles Kevin Federline or maybe the sculptor? After I rest up a bit from these last few weeks, I’m gonna buzz on over there. Yep, I will. And I will stand at the birthing end and just stare (and maybe lick my lips and roll my eyes) until I make the other patrons so nervous that I am asked to leave. I make an impression everywhere I go.

But really, I am most positive that writahs who send me notes about how they have worked hard and deserve to published are completely clueless. What do you mean, you deserve to be published? Is that like if someone blows himself up for the cause he gets 72 virgins in paradise? When did getting published become some reward for living a good life? When you hear yourself saying things like “I have worked so hard on this book! I deserve to be published just for my efforts!” then you can officially claim insanity. EVERYBODY who writes puts forth effort. Some people wait twenty years to get a break, mainly because some snot-nosed mealy-mouthed little prick wannabe was willing to chew on a couple of nipples more than they were (or worse). Surely some of you have met multi-published, famous authors before, and that means you know that some of them are not what we would all agree constitutes--how shall I say it?--a human. Some of them are assholes; others are bitches. Some of them are really nice and gracious. Some are just plain stupid, and some show their boobies to everyone who will look—DG, you know who you are—so there is no way, with this motley crew of fools who are the publishing elite, that you can say getting published is something someone deserves.

Besides that, do you realize, folks, that some consider a publishing credit a curse? The most recent example is probably James Frey, but there are lots of others. People who got published and then did the quick fade, never to be heard from again. Or people who got that seven figure deal and the pressure to produce a second book drove them loony. Think about what it must have been like for Frey to sit across from Oprah and have her tear apart his publishing dreams in front of millions of people. Yep, that’s the kind of reward I’m looking forward to.

Ah, well, I don’t want to keep beating a dead horse, especially when it is much more fun to beat up live wannabes. So, I will go for now, but I can tell you that if you truly look at publishing as some kind of reward system, you are going to be more disappointed than a social security recipient in 2012. Of course, no one will notice your disappointment because they will be too captivated by Daniel Edwards’ next sculpture, which I imagine will be something like a tottering caricature of Tom Delay eating snacks off of a boa constrictor wrapped around Bill Frist’s waist (with the proceeds going to the re-building of New Orleans, of course).

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