A couple of years ago I had an opportunity to write stories about people’s experiences and insights into living the Christian life, but the ones I approached to find out who in their church would be interested for a chat about their lives, never got back to me. Email made it easier, I suppose, to go on to something else. With email, you don’t have to reply. I understood that people might have been reluctant to share their lives with me and the public, and that finding out if there are people who have “testimonies” is always leg work for others, but it was a potential series of articles that haven’t come to be. They haven’t materialized. I was sorry about that. Considering, there are editors who might turn a page of my work with a disdainful eye (but really it’s probably a sorry they couldn’t publish it), the editors who are interested in stories about people from me, don’t get to see it. The irony is painful. In this case, I will have to find the stories myself–my own contacts and relationships and approach them directly, or build new contacts and relationships. One has said ‘no’ so far. But is the publisher still going to be around post Covid-19? There are more pressing issues at hand…
For the last twenty-five years I’ve been published in the “smallies”, the newspapers, the magazines, the journals, the websites, you get the picture, but I’ve been also greedy for the book deal, the “biggie”. I went into writing the book not thinking too much about the ins and outs of publishing, but I’ve learnt from experience as you’d say. It was phase one of learning about submitting to book publishers; yes, I got rejection slips. I learnt that when the publisher rejects one’s work, or most times the publisher rejects your work, they are most likely right, to the degree that they think the work isn’t the right fit, more or less, or they have better work than yours. I’ve accepted this reality and don’t really mind. Even if I’ve done my research on the publisher, there’s the possibility my work will be rejected. Don’t worry about it, I say. Life is bigger than that. It doesn’t really matter. But I will try, in not an ideal world, to exhaust the possibilities, if the book deal is still something I want, after realizing a thing or two about publishing.
Authors must face publishing reality. What ever that publishing reality is. Years ago, I ploughed headlong into my fiction thinking it would get published someday. But when I got rejection slips saying my fiction didn’t fit their publishing needs, I withered a bit, and learnt that I just can’t go in there and get my work published. If I want to get published with a certain publisher, it’s about knowing them very well, and catering the work to their publishing needs. This is the publishing reality I am talking about. It may even entail me reading what other authors have done with that publisher. It’s no easy path to getting the book deal. This may seem obvious, but to know it, rather than sense it, are two different things.
In “The Wind in the Willows”, a children’s book that’s considered a classic and that I am presently reading, there’s the main action and we find out later what was going on in parallel to that action in a conversational scene. The author chose to tell what happened in parallel in just one scene. I found this worked perfectly, in this case. So, the question I have, is why would an author choose one lot of action first and tell the reader what happened in parallel later on, in just one scene? I think the author must know how this choice would effect the flow of the story. It may flow better that way. By telling two stories at once in parallel may lesson the effectiveness of the story as a whole. You may lose the gist of the story. Parallel plot lines — where two stories are told in parallel at virtually the same time — are the exception and one uses it only for the purposes of telling the story more effectively, without losing the gist of the story.
A piece of mine was published Monday at the Upper Room, after I submitted it two years ago. Well worth the wait, to see it up, and the reaction.