Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Betting on the right horse


Lately I've been writing book proposals for other people, and when one went out, two publishers responded right away. One offered a decent advance; the other wanted the book, but didn't want to pay for it.

 "I've never sold a book for nothing," the agent wrote.

 The editor was indignant; wanted the book and whined about uncertainty. The agent said that acquiring mss. ought not to be going for certainty (buying mss. that are like other best-selling books etc.) but "betting on the right horse."

 I love that idea! And not just because it reminds me of John Steinbeck saying,

"Publishing makes horse-racing look like a stable, secure business."

Betting on the right horse is a good way to think about my own books, too -- though for me it's like owning a horse as well as betting on one. If you muck out the stalls etc. yourself, owning a horse is a lot of work. And so is writing a book. You have to really love the creature to make all that work worthwhile, whether it wins the race or not.