In 2111 there is just no excuse not to be published. Depending, of course, on what your definition of being published is. You can be published traditionally, where you get paid--less and less these days. Or you can be published independently, where you pay someone else--for one book or a hundred, depending on your budget. You can publish yourself daily on the Internet or you can get published as a commentator, commenting on someone else's blog or answering questions in a forum with your signature as your logo advertising your forthcoming book on the top 10 secrets of becoming visible on the web.
Me, I first got published the old fashioned way, through contacts. This was back in the day when having a contact really meant something and most people pretty much topped out at five. Nowadays, five thousand contacts is nothing. But, at least in my experience, these virtual contacts have been virtually worthless at the thing they’re supposed to provide--leads for getting published. For instance, I got my first book deal after being recommended to my contact’s editor at Macmillan.
Having just said this, I realize that gaining a contact who has an editor at Macmillan already puts you on third base in the getting published game (although I’m not sure Macmillan is still around, or who owns Macmillan, or, to put it another way, the folks at today’s Macmillan are not sure who owns the rights to that first book of mine).
I got my contact who had the editor through two other contacts. One of them was a professor at CCNY who sent my student novel to an editor friend of his. (It probably helped that the student novel had just won the college’s top writing prize). The editor rejected it with the most detailed critique I’ve ever gotten. He then recommended me to an agent, who sent a copy of my zany resume to the contact with the editor (who worked in PR), who immediately started sending my magazine articles to his friend who was the assignment editor for the Entertainment Section of The New York Times. (It probably helped that by then I was writing articles twice a month for a national music publication). This eventually led to an assignment for me to cover a hot new singer/songwriter playing Max’s Kansas City named Bruce Springsteen. And the rest was history--for him at least.
What these self-aggrandizing details should tell you is, you can’t get a contact with an editor unless you’re already a pretty good writer, in the midst of getting your stuff around.
But even the best of contacts couldn’t prevent my first editor from leaving Macmillan before my book came out, a circumstance I was to confront many times on my journey to 14 published books. Which, in part, may answer the question, how can you publish 14 books and still not be famous (let alone rich)?
These days I’m sampling all the available avenues to publication. I’ve got a new book coming out through a traditional publisher in November. These are the same people who published my last traditional (analog?) book in 2009. I’m also plunging into the epublishing world by reissuing some of my out of print back catalog. This summer, in fact, I’m working on five books at once.
This involves a lot of waiting. I’m currently waiting for a guy to finish coding my first epub reissue. I’m waiting for an artist to deliver some choices on a cover for my second epub reissue, (which is actually more of a rewrite of my third novel). I just finished rewriting my fourth novel for the eighteenth time before sending it out to agents. And then I just finished editing the galleys for my November release. At the same time, I’m waiting for my editor to get back to me with notes for my next book. Meanwhile, I’m impatiently waiting for the pub date to arrive on book number 14.
This could be the big one.
Bruce Pollock’s books include By the Time We Got to Woodstock: The Great Rock Revolution of 1969, Working Musicians: Defining Moments from the Road, the Studio, and the Stage, If You Like the Beatles (coming in November), When the Music Mattered: Portraits from the 1960s (coming soon as an ebook) and the novel, It’s Only Rock and Roll (coming soon as an ebook). His web page is entitled brucepollock.net. His blog is entitled email@example.com.
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