All this month I'm posting letters to Book Biz Santa from readers of this blog. If you have one, please email it to MJRoseAuthor@aol.com
This is Part One of a three-part letter to Book Biz Santa from 25 Bah Humbug Authors. Part two will be published on Tuesday and Part three on Wednesday. After you read it, please, please click over to Mad Max Perkins' blog and read his rant. It's brilliant. It's what the 25 authors who wrote this letter to Santa are talking about. We need to start a new conversation and Max is willing to host it. Be afraid. Be very afraid. But not of Mad Max's anonymity. Or these writers' anonymity. But of ignoring the writing - not in the books - but on the proverbial wall.
We know we should ask for peace on earth and good will towards all. But we hear you have a penchant for the book biz.
We're a group of twenty-five authors and like everyone else in the blogshpere, we are worried about repercussions of signing our real names so are writing to you anonymously.
But trust us, together we've written more than 75 books, are published in 14 countries, have been chosen as Borders & BN & Booksense picks, gotten starred PW reviews, NYTBR reviews, Washington Post Reviews, etc and quite a few best seller lists. Our short fiction has appeared in publications from Seventeen to the New Yorker. We have been featured in countless magazines and newspapers, heard on the radio, and appeared on television including but not limited to the Today Show and Good Morning America.
Basically we are generally a fairly successful bunch.
What we want for Christmas is to stop complaining about the book biz but in order to do that there are certain things we need our editors & publishers to do from here on in.
So please Santa, would you print out this list and put a copy in every one of their stockings.
1. No more legs, asses or boobs on the covers of women's fiction. Believe it or not women readers are not interested in each other's body parts.
2. We know that every editor shepherds about 150 novels a year but each author only writes one. So when it comes out, could you think about picking up the freaking phone and congratulating us? Or heaven forbid sending flowers. Or a bottle of the bubbly. (And thank you to those of us who already do this!)
To you it's just one more book, to us it's about three years of work.We need to feel valued. We're sorry that the money we were paid on signing doesn't hold us over emotionally all year long. Writers can only write when they are emotionally full, so feed us please? If you like a story, let us know.
We love our fellow authors but we don't always need to know how great the book they just turned in was. Chance are we are struggling with our muse and pumping up another author makes us feel unworthy and worried we can't compete.
If we worry, we can't write well. If we can't write well ... We all suffer. So please don't constantly mention other authors names. Name dropping hurts.
3. This is a big one.
Can we stop with the lies?
No lies of omission. No lies of commission.
Do not lie to us about how many ARC's you are sending out.
Do not lie to us about how many books you are shipping.
Do not lie to us about running ads.
Do not lie to us about sending us on tour.
We are people. We get hurt. We bleed. We cry. We scream. It's our one and only career. Please give us a chance to help it along.
4. This is supposed to be a creative business. How about getting creative about promoting our books. Maybe the way its been done for the last 50 years just ain't cutting it anymore.
There are lots of great marketing ideas out there (A whole bunch on this blog) how bout taking a look and trying some of them out. The career you create might be the one that makes you a star and gets you a raise.
5. Don't offer my agent a million dollars for my book and then change your mind about what to do with it six months later and kill my career by throwing the book out there. If I don't sell you'll still have a job. But I won't. I'll have to change my name. And I like my name.
6. Can you stop dumbing down books with what you think are clever labels. Chick Lit was one thing. But are Mommy Lit, Mystery Lit, Dick Lit, & Hen Lit necessary?
7. PLEASE EDIT MY BOOK. Even if you know it will sell and get reviewed because of my name and my previous books, even though you recognize the many good qualities in the manuscript I have turned in, if you think it needs a serious revision, please, please, ask me to do it.
Ask me to change the voice or spend more time on the ending or explain that chapter that seems summarized. (Surely the book is important enough to you that you will do this and not just assign it to your assistant to read for you?
I have heard rumors about you. From some of your former assistants.) No matter what the schedule, no matter how your list looked for that schedule, no matter how you know the book is good enough the way it is now, please, please, make me write the best possible book that I can instead of permitting me to get away with a book that is only good enough.
Please ask yourself, is this as good as it can possibly be? Please, in other words, identify the problems and see that they are fixed! Please do not let me go out in public this time with my slip showing and parsley on my tooth. Please edit my book in both macro and micro ways.
And while we are on the subject, please employ a copy editor who understands the basic rules of grammar and has a working knowledge of the subject of the book sufficient to make useful and necessary changes in the manuscript instead of adding egregious errors while omitting to find crucial mistakes and typos.
I love our nice expense account lunches, and I love you, but above all, I really, really want you to edit my book...
To be continued tomorrow