June 27, 2010


I made it to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award’s top 50 young adult novels – out of some 4000 entrants.

Minnesota author, Judith Guest’s book, ORDINARY PEOPLE was discovered in the slushpile of Viking Press and published in 1976 – it was the first slushpile discovery Viking had published in 26 years.

Nathan Bransford (http://blog.nathanbransford.com/) and Rachel Gardner (http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/) are agents whose blogs are followed by nearly 4000 and nearly 3000 people respectively.

When people found out about my status, I was contacted by the local SunPost newspaper and the district-wide online news and interviewed by both at length.

Judith Guest’s book received the Janet Heidiger Kafka Prize for best first novel and was optioned by Robert Redford, who made it into a movie that garnered Oscars in 1980 for Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and Actor.

Virtually every post Bransford and Gardner make has between 25 and 150 comments.

I didn’t make the next-to-last cut into the Top Three young adult novels. Neither the local newspaper nor the district news ran my interviews.

Judith who?

If Bransford and Gardner announced that they were retiring from the agent business but would continue to write their columns, I GUESS (mind you, I am no clairvoyant or seer, just an observer of the human condition) that their popularity and comment numbers would plummet and they would no longer be on the “most read” lists.

My point? Not sour apples; I’m hoping I’m pretty much past that stage of my writing life. I also don’t believe in the “luck myth” (http://www.ninc.com/blog/index.php/archives/luck-myth) except as the smallest part of the publication equation. I’ve sold enough things to CRICKET, CICADA, ANALOG, a book that’s been selling for 12 years (http://www.csspub.com/prod-0788012940.htm) and other various and sundry publications to know I’m an OK writer.

I also understand the whole networking thing. But that’s what I’ve come to loathe. I have sold to several publications and I also teach writing and come into contact with aspiring writers at school and work. Often these people ask me about my agent. More than once they asked if I could introduce them to an agent; most of them were brand new writers or had one or two projects they wanted represented (sometimes the projects aren’t even done…)

When I say, “Oh, I don’t have an agent. I’ve been submitting over-the-transom…” I find I’m talking to thin air.

It’s not that I don’t know “famous writers”: Jeff Kooistra, Bruce Bethke, Mary Casanova, John Coy, David LaRochelle and Kate DiCamillo all have agents. I have resisted asking them for an introduction or reference because I feel obscurely uncomfortable; like I don’t want to be known as part of a Hunting Pack out to get their endorsement or something. I know the publishing process includes networking, but I guess I see networking as between me and “an agent” or “an editor” and something I do myself. Maybe this just shows my lack of faith in Humanity. Then again, my faith has always been in Jesus Christ, so I guess there’s no surprise there.

I’ve thought about this “networking” thing for a long time, and I think I’ll stay the course I’ve been walking all along: http://www.footprints-inthe-sand.com/index.php?page=Poem/Poem.php.

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