Thursday, October 15, 2009

publishing observations round-up


INTERN went out to the plant store and bought herself a fern the size of a smart-car to fill the post-internship space in her life, and is feeling ready to take on the world. She is naming the fern "Head Ed" and will be taking assignments from it (envelope-licking and such) whenever necessary. Techie Boyfriend is a little concerned, but seems to buy INTERN's argument that she has to cope however she can.

Right now "Head Ed" is telling INTERN to write a round-up of Things Learned About Publishing before going on to write new things. So, anxious to please her new boss, here it is:

Round-Up of Things Learned About Publishing

1. On her first day of interning, INTERN was shocked to learn that the acquisitions editor listed in Writer's Market does not necessarily always exist.

2. Editors can and will check the sales figures of your previous books. Fools who tweak their numbers get pitied. And not just by INTERN.

3. Getting a book deal is 10% reason for celebration is 90% reason for nervous breakdown.

4. It's not enough for a book to be good—it has to be a good fit for the publisher (and the publisher's boobs.)

5. If you want to publish a memoir, merely having an interesting life is not enough—you also gotta write good, and stop talking about yourself so dang much.

6. That no matter how brilliant you think your title is, the overlords in marketing know better.

7. That all sorts of things like gift books and journals can and do get cranked out in-house in, like, fifty-five minutes. Counting pee breaks.

8. That in fiction, emotional truth trumps literal truth every time. Write from the heart, folks—not from memory.

9. Authors get discovered all over the place—in magazines, on the radio, in the elevator—not just in the slush or agented submission pile.

10. That no matter how true your story is or how extravagant your promotion plan, what matters at the end of the day is the quality of your writing. Oh, and good timing doesn't hurt either.


What's that, 'Head Ed'? You want some coffee? Cream or sugar? Both? And some water from that spray bottle?

INTERN must run now. Urgent duties. Good day!


  1. Nice summary. Is Head Ed giving you a raise?

  2. Do inquire if Head Ed is up for holiday decorations or even a strand or two of twinkle lights.

    You never know . . .

  3. Head Ed?...
    Good Lord Ed is everywhere! Ed's on TV. Can't watch a football (or any sporting event) without Ed being mentioned. Or those commercials where the couple sit in bath tubs in unusual places.

    And now, INTERN has HEAD ED!

    Oh, you mean Editor, not Erectile Dysfunction!

    Well, slap me with a pork-chop...

    Haste yee back ;-)


    What you are doing is called 'Pulling yourself up by the bootstraps.' - Good for you!


  5. So true!
    One year in publishing and still learning new things!

    Yes to 4 & 5! It is so frustrating getting phone calls about fascinating lives when you publish business books!

  6. Haste ye, you win the prize for most random and bizarre and ornate comments! They belong in a Victorian museum... :)

  7. Why INTERN...

    Thank you... the distance between my ears is completely out of control!

    Haste yee back ;-)

  8. I am glad to hear that INTERN has found err..someone to help shape the hours until a new adventure begins. As long as Head Ed is inclined to share INTERN's valuable knowledge with us, the great unwashed, then I say Viva La Head Ed. Spray bottles all around!!!

  9. You know, I kind of like you. I listened to the podcast/netcast/whatever-it-was, and yeah, you were a little bit duh, but likeable.

    Likeable is important. It means that you'll probably make a great editor. Thanks for blogging this stuff, I'm having fun reading it.

    And, some advice for radio: Less "umm", more YOU! Much success to you :)

  10. Annie Dillard would agree with you about number 1.

  11. Oh, thank you for #9. So the trick is I have to carry a magazine while in the elevator en route to visiting a radio station.

    Got it!

    Thank you for all advice, humor, sundries...

  12. great blog-love #7! Would love for you to rate your experience on also, I'd love to post your article on our blog- you can contact me through the site:


  13. Too funny and depressing. That's pretty much the rollercoaster I've been on since I started pitching my first novel, "badbadbad," which you can peep here: -- and please do, really; you'll like it.

    Best agent rejection so far: "a bit too literary for my list." And she's a LITERARY agent. Gotta love it. I added her to the Reader Feedback on my Web site.

    So what am I doing now? Turning my book into a full-blown multimedia project, a literary-audio-visual mashup that I intend to take directly to the people. Have I mentioned

    If this doesn't work, at least I'll soon have a great CD and some very cool videos, yep.

  14. INTERN, I feel your pain. I'm an intern myself at a Big Publishing House in Brazil and have no idea what I'll do once my internship ends. What am I gonna do without my date stamper?

  15. I would have named the fern "Audrey" but that's just me.

    PS... I love reading your blog. Go forth and be Excellent!

  16. INTERN, you are hilarious!! Do you have a service for reading an author's book and offering your opinion about it (no editing involved)?

  17. You sure know how to crack me up while depressing the shit out of me...

  18. Just discovered your blog. Lucky me. Funny you. Good luck with Head Ed!