Sunday, May 31, 2009

Why You Really Don't Want to Get Published

If you're reading this blog, THE INTERN assumes that you either know THE INTERN and are just being nice, or you have some interest in eventually getting a book published.

If you're the former, thank you. If you're the latter: crazy mofo, what are you THINKING?

Getting a book published is not all that. In fact, it will ruin your life (at least temporarily). Want to live in a perpetual state of frayed nerves, paranoia and shame-facedness? Get your damn book published.

THE INTERN must, at this point, reveal, that THE INTERN herself is in the process of having a book published. It isn't my fault—there were no query letters, rejection slips, or postage stamps involved—it's just something that happens when you ride the wrong elevator at the wrong time. BAM! Book deal. Like that one, faintly remembered episode of carnal enthusiasm, you wake up the next morning with this THING that follow you around for the rest of your life. Except instead of open sores, that THING is a book.

Here's why you don't actually want to get a book deal.

1. If you get a book deal, you will have to sign a book contract.

And that contract has a single purpose: to bone you. If you have leverage, you may be able to get a contract that will bone you slightly less. Otherwise, bend over and assume the position. Then prepare to be tormented by it for years to come.

2. Any emotional stability you have right now will be destroyed.

THE INTERN has bipolar disorder, so perhaps it is understandable that said book deal has sent THE INTERN into a tailspin of alternating highs ("INTERN FAMOUS") and lows ("INTERN MEDIOCRE PIECE OF SLIME"). But even if you haven't been declared clinically off your rocker, your book deal will fuck with your head. You will question your self-worth, and the quality of your writing, and whether you made the right decision in signing that humdinger of a contract (see #1) or should have held out for something that would leave you with more than two royalty checks a year for seventy-five cents each.

3. People will ask what your book is about.

You will be momentarily excited about having a book published, and in that moment you will tell everyone you know. They will naturally ask "What is your book about?", thinking they might be talking to the next David Foster Wallace. When you tell them your book is called "100 Tea Cozies You Can Knit," their faces will fall. "Oh," they'll be thinking to themselves, "so he's not really a writer." Eventually, you will be so shell-shocked and defensive about your book's subject matter, you will snarl and say "What's it to ya?" when anyone asks.

4. You'll still be the same old trashbag as you were before the book was published.

You will not transform overnight into a sophisticated and socially-savvy Author. You will not be prettier. You will not become more popular (see #3). You will not be richer. You will not be recognized in the streets. Odds are, you'll be exactly where you were before said book was published, only significantly more neurotic.


That is all.


  1. Congratulations on your book deal.

  2. My condolences on your book deal. Perhaps we should start a fund to get you counseling services.

  3. Congratulations and I'm sorry about what's to come. Thanks for setting me straight on the publishing world. I now feel just a tad more confident in my decision to take the path to ignominy rather than greatness by self-publishing. Sadly, even as my own publisher I find myself second guessing every decision and am definitely "significantly more neurotic" than when I started.

  4. Oh, INTERN.

    Welcome to the jungle.

  5. Wait! What elevator? You've GOT to be kidding me! *waves fist full of rejection letters*

  6. That's hilarious! Even if your book doesn't do well, I'm sure you'll be a successful blogger (I'm sure that didn't help your self-esteem). Just kidding...I got a kick out of your entry. :)

  7. Too true and very funny. Thanks!!!

  8. What Laurie says! Elevator???? Could you,um, well, like, send secret directions, a map with ink that reveals under a book lamp or something?

  9. i'd also like to know the location of this magical elevator. i am already an insane sloppy mess without the book deal.

  10. Dear Intern,
    Your timing and humor are poorly organized. Don't you know that you are "supposed to" gush support and encouragement to writers. Help the unpublished write sparky query letters that will zing the copyeditors. Letters written from just far enough outside the proverbial box that editors will scramble to create marvelous contracts.
    Just kidding. Thank you for letting me vent.

  11. INTERN say:

    Elevator was destroyed in a mysterious incident mere seconds after the interaction that spawned said book deal. INTERN and editors barely escaped with their lives.

  12. Hilarious! And congratulations .. I think! :-)

  13. Oh, Intern. I think I heart you. Pass the Prozac please...


  14. Arrg! You're too late with all of this information. I'm already at the "What's it to you" stage of this post-publication life and my mirror refuses to lie--I'm still old and saggy AND recently neuroticized.

    INTERN, you must write a follow-up post. Medical Guide for the Published.

  15. I am willing to take the stairs in the building that used to have the elevator. I am willing to climb 100 flights of stairs and suffer every indignity you describe. Here that Intern's publisher?? I am assuming the contract signing position.;-)

  16. Hilarious! And so true (I made more money last year playing Bunco than I made in royalties)

  17. Seventy five cent royalty checks, LOL! I knew they'd be low for a first book, but damn.
    Good thing I just want to tell an entertaining story.

  18. INTERN say:

    Bunco? What is this Bunco you speak of? How can INTERN get in on this Bunco scheme? :)

  19. Here's some advice I got about publishing last week, and since I love your blog so much I will pass along this nugget of wisdom to you. Maybe your next book will get you a better deal:

    "Why don't you write a book like that Harry Potter? That did well."

    You're welcome.

  20. Ooo, that is HILARIOUS!

    thank you thank you thank you!
    it's always the darkest humor
    that takes away the sting.


    helluvan elevator ride!
    good on ya, Mate!

  21. Just a tad hilarious. This put a smile on my face. Although, I still am not looking forward to being "boned" if I ever get a book deal. :) Not. At. All.

  22. What do you think about Kindle Ready self pub, win win? Skip pub go straight to Amazon (with copy editing by INTERN of course)...Hummmm?

  23. Thank for explaining the way I felt when I got my book deal. I feel so much better knowing that I wasn't the only one thinking " why am I feeling so crazy about this book deal."

  24. Oh, and wait till your first and only book is out of print and your editor quits to write her own books and it's been 5 years of trying to play the avoid the slush pile game and you finally get an editor to ask for a re-write which you send and wait 6 months wondering if it's in the trash somewhere or is she so impressed she is taking it to meetings then you read she has quit to write her own books and you don't know where your ms is...well, I'm done, so done with it all. Not really I can't quit. it's a sickness.

  25. What? I am not prettier? Well shoot. (Goes to get a mirror)