I’m naive, I admit it

One of my goals has always been to be published. By a major publishing company. With an editor. And, most importantly, a nice advance that could (maybe) pay my bills for a bit. I also always sorta expect a publishing house to be helpful in pushing me (or any author) in the right direction regarding publicity of said work.

Then I read this blog by Mitzi Szereto.

Then I read this page by Jim Cox at the Midwest Book Review.

Then I talked to a couple of other friends of mine who are knee (well, shoulder) deep in MFA Master/PhD programs.

And I discovered how horribly naive I really am about the whole publishing mess. Any hope that a publisher would help a writer succeed appears blind and destined for failure. Want to do readings? Book’em yourself. Want to get reviewers to read the thing? Send them copies.

Unfortunately, if you’re like me (and you’re probably not, so you’re fine), you don’t really interact well with people. Or maybe you are like me which means that, like me, you have some work to do. for the first time, networking is taking on a clear importance and meaning.  Friends (or at least people who want to remain acquaintances and who may later ask you for a favor) are essential.

But how do you make friends, especially in a world where you are literally a tiny fish in a MASSIVE sea? I come from a small ass town in SE Michigan. I have lately moved to Cleveland.  Not exactly the center of the universe or, especially, the literary universe (Though Dan Chaon lives about 10 minutes away, and I guess Harvey Pekar lives somewhere in this town, so there’s some people whose names are at least noticeable on bookshelves). Given such a situation, it’s easy to look around and wonder how the hell you’re supposed to meet/greet/schmooze anyone.

Well, first, send stuff out. Obvious answer. People like you enough to publish you, on their dime, that’s a great first step in fostering allegiances to call on when needed. Second, use the web. Search for blogs and websites related to your interests/writings/etc. And comment. Say stuff. It’s easy, even if you do look like a naive nit (such as I on Mitzi’s blog). And just know that it’s going to happen. Don’t be an ass. Just be you (unless you are an ass then try to be something less you).

As I crawl, drag, stagger towards finishing the (first) re-write of my first novel I have considered hurling into the world, I’ve started taking these steps. And credit goes to people like Mitzi Szerato and Jim Cox for erecting islands of illumination in the publishing darkness. Eventually, I hope to provide something similar. Until then, I’ll keep plugging away and trying to be a bit less naive.

And I’ll try to shake more hands.

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3 Responses to “I’m naive, I admit it”

  1. Mitzi Szereto Says:

    Thanks for the mention and link. Well, even if you’re in London (not Cleveland), don’t think it’s any great improvement for schmoozing. I get more done on the internet with people I’ve never met, then I do going schmoozing face-to-face!

    PS – Can you fix the spelling of my surname to “Szereto”? x

  2. michaeleriksson Says:

    If it is any comfort: “Being published” is a concept that is on its way out. In the not-too-far-away future other business models than used today will take over, and “being published” will be a non-issue status- and accomplishment-wise. (With exception for some special cases, like scientific publishing.)

    On the negative side, this need not have positive implications money-wise…

  3. charlieblizz Says:

    Sorry about the misspelling Mitzi! Just from a brief looking around, I can definitely see the opportunity for meeting new people on the web and making other connections. It certainly takes some getting used to, though.

    Michael: interesting you bring up scientific publishing. After having spent two years going after an MA:Eng. Lit., I think there’s definitely a similar feeling across the various disciplines. Nothing was pushed harder than Publish! Publish! Publish! except for, maybe, Research! Research! Research! and my main knowledge of the necessities for being published stem from that background. Making contacts and networking were certainly mentioned, but being published was the big door opener for the field.

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